No-meat barbecues

169In the last week, I’ve been trying to make good use of my little Weber grill.  I’ve been meaning to get a new grill for a while, but my shed building project keeps getting delayed and I don’t want to get a bigger grill until I have a place to put it.

Anyway…

I’m always surprised what my little grill is capable of, though I have to admit I’ve been having a hard time getting used to the new, more natural charcoal.  Unlike the old chemical kind, they barely take any time at all to get to heat but it means they don’t burn as long.  I learned out the hard way on the 4th of July that you have to get the food on right away or you’ll be barely charring before it’s too cold.  Luckily we were cooking corn and not something more “deadly” like meat.

Now that I’ve perfected the timing of lighting the chimney and being ready to grill in about 10-15 minutes, I’ve been making hay while the sun is shining (or whatever that expression is).  In the last week alone, I’ve fired up the grill two times just to be able to stay out of my kitchen, but more than that, to focus on grilling vegetables.   I’ve had two delicious meatless feasts186

To start, I made a fresh tomato pasta sauce I’ve written about before since it can be eaten at room temperature.  After that, I grilled heaps of veggies from the farm:  “dinosaur” green beans, light yellow-green and purple bell peppers, green onions, and fresh corn.  I just tossed the veggies I intended to cook with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, chili flakes, and some dried thyme and oregano.  Some things went straight on the grill, but most of the veggies were cooked in a small grill pan/wok I got years ago but had never yet used.  It works great — only two green beans were sacrificed to the grill gods!

171It was a feast on the platter and beautiful on the plate.  Simple flavors.  Lots of color.  A perfect, filling, substantial no-meat dinner for a summer weekend evening.

Because I knew the grill would still be hot for a while after cooking this meal, I cut up some lovely pink potatoes (inside and out) that we got from the farm and put them into foil packets with garlic, olive oil, chili flakes, salt, and pepper.  They cooked/steamed on the grill for about 25 minutes until they were nearly cooked.  I figured they could be turned into fried potatoes or even potato salad.

185

Inspired by that meal, I decided on a weeknight to do a repeat with the idea of making a summer dish that could be eaten hot, cold, or whatever and would hold up to being packed in a lunch.  I had a red pepper from the supermarket, but looking in my veggie drawer, I had more green onions, yellow squash, zucchini, and flat romano green beans from the farm.  I cut it all in large-ish pieces, got out my grill pan, and got to grilling.  Once cooked, I brought everything inside and chopped it up into more bite-sized pieces.  While the veggies had been grilling, I cooked some orzo pasta and then tossed it with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, black pepper, and loads of lovely flat-leaf parsley from the farm.  I tossed the orzo mixture with the grilled, chopped veggies and tossed it and adjusted the seasonings (it needed more balsamic vinegar since the pasta soaks up a lot of the flavor).

211Delicious.

I had remembered that I never did use the mostly cooked pink potatoes from the first bbq, so I decided to essentially re-heat them on the bbq and add some of that delicious charred flavor from the charcoal.  I tossed them in the grill pan once the veggies were done, and by the time I had my orzo salad assembled, the potatoes were warm and crispy.  It was a very satisfying meal without meat.

Happily, the orzo “salad” has packed well as leftovers for lunch.  It can be eaten cold, room temperature, or warm.  Looks good, too!

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