Grilled Summer Veggies with Forbidden Rice

Everyone knows summer is awesome.  Seriously.  Ask anyone.  Especially kids.  And it doesn’t hurt to live in the Napa Valley where the weather is stupidly perfect.  Today it was 72 and sunny with a slight breeze, which is fairytale weather.

So one of the best things about the good weather and the summerness of it all is the grill.  I can’t even tell you how much I love barbecues.  It’s one of my top 10 favorite things, along with puppies, drinking free wine and David Sedaris novels.  But, since I’ve been trying to eat less meat these days (you know, to singlehandedly save the world) I have to find other things to grill.  Luckily, grilled veggies are amazing and delicious, so, crisis averted.

Grilling veggies is easy.  All you need are veggies, a grill and an easy marinade.  I also made some forbidden rice to go along with them, which I didn’t take a photo of.  It’s this cool, totally black rice that has a really great texture and flavor.  I suggest you go buy a bag of it and then prepare it according to the directions on the bad.  It’s that easy.

So, the kinds of veggies you used are up to you.  I used:

Portabello mushrooms

Yellow squash

Zucchini

Asparagus

Red onion

Sweet peppers

Pasilla peppers

Aaaand that’s it.

But really, feel free to use any of your favorite veggies!  Like carrots, or brussel sprouts, or broccoli.  Anything really works.  The important thing is the marinade, which is also simple.  You’ll need:

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

5 cloves of garlic (minced)

2 lemons (juiced)

1 tsp kosher salt

Ground pepper

Okay, so basically you want to combine these ingredients and let them sit together for at least an hour before you used them on the vegetables.

After chopping up your veggies and letting the marinade stew a little bit, pour the whole marinade over the veggies and toss like a salad.  Let the veggies sit in the marinade for about 15 minutes.

Also, be sure to drink some wine.

Now, prepare your grill…however you do that.  All grills are different.

We have this nifty basket thing to put the veggies in so they don’t sit directly on the grill.  I highly recommend it, because you can cook a larger amount at a time and you don’t have to turn everything over individually.

Depending on how hot the grill is you can leave the vegetables on anywhere from 10-30 minutes.  If your veggies seem to be taking to long, try closing the lid of the bbq for a couple minutes to seal in the heat, but not for too long because you don’t want too much smoke all up in the veggies.  Make sure to constantly check and stir them.  If you’ve got a really hot grill, they can easily burn.

Like I said, serve these with some forbidden rice and you won’t be sorry, but they’re also just great as a side dish for any bbq.  Or even just on their own as a snack.  Enjoy!

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Aloo Palak

If I’m being totally honest with you, readers, I woke up this morning thinking that I would try to make Giada DeLaurentis’s Sausage, Peppers and Onions.  Then, I noticed that I had a giant bag of spinach in the fridge that I bought to make a salad.  I never made the salad.  Apparently, in Chile, spinach only comes in extreme bulk and looking at the spinach I realized that it was not long for this world so I thought “Well, I should use this spinach.”

this spinach.

From there I Googled “spinach recipes” to be confronted mostly with spinach and artichoke dip recipes and as much as I love the stuff I was looking for something a little healthier and more along the lines of a meal.  I came across a recipe for Aloo Palak, an Indian dish with spinach and potatoes that I’ve enjoyed before and thought it sounded splendid.  So, I wrote out a grocery list with the ingredients for both the sausage and peppers and the aloo palak thinking that I would make one today and one tomorrow.

The thing about sausage and peppers is that it requires peppers, so naturally I put “2 red bell peppers” on my grocery list and then promptly and completely overlooked and forgot about that ingredient (this is while I’m actually thinking “I can’t wait to make sausage and peppers!) and didn’t manage to buy them.  There was even a fruit and veggie stand on my walk home but they were sadly lacking in peppers.

Here is the point.  Today, I made aloo palak.  I’ll make the sausage and peppers this weekend.

Wasn’t that interesting???

Okay, so the recipe I found actually contained some spices that I’ve never seen in Chile and that they definitely didn’t have at my local little grocery store.  So instead of turmeric, coriander and garam masala I used some other familiar Indian flavors, namely cardamom and curry powder.  It actually turned out really great, but I’ll post the real recipe as well as my replacements if you have access to those particular spices.

Here we go:

2 large handfuls of fresh spinach (this isn’t super exact but when the spinach cooks down it needs to measure a little more than a cup)

3 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped

1 inch fresh ginger, roughly chopped

2 onions, diced

1-2 green chiles, chopped with seeds

2 large potatoes, peeled and chopped into cubes

1 tsp turmeric (I used cardamom)

4 tbl butter

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp garam masala (I used curry powder)

1 tsp cumin

Sour cream to taste

Salt

Oil

First, cook the spinach, garlic, ginger, chiles and onion in a pan with a little water and a little oil for about 5-10 minutes until the spinach is a deep, bright green and the other ingredients are soft.  Remove all ingredients from the pan and puree until very smooth.  I used a hand mixer and it worked wonderfully with hardly any mess.  I have a hand mixer, who knew?  Set the puree aside.

Boil the potatoes with a pinch of salt and the cardamom until soft, about 10 minutes at a full boil.  Drain and set aside.

In a large frying pan heat up the butter, cumin seeds and puree.  Bring to a simmer and let it cook for a few minutes.  Add the potatoes, cumin and curry powder and stir.  Cook for about five more minutes, allowing the potatoes to soak up all the flavors.  You can add a little water if the mixture is too thick.

Serve with sour cream.

I served mine with some white rice steamed in water with a chicken bouillon cube.  The bouillon spices the rice up a little bit.  You can also serve it with naan, which is a flat Indian bread.  This dish is filling and totally vegetarian.  And super delicious.

aaaw yeah.

See you soon for sausage and peppers!

(Original recipe found here: http://www.food.com/recipe/aloo-palak-indian-potatoes-spinach-108787)