Food: Try this veggie dip at the next tailgate party (recipe)
GRILLED VEGETABLE DIP
Make this Middle Eastern-flavored dip several hours or up to a day in advance.
2 pounds medium-size eggplants
2 large red bell peppers, cut in half, ribs and seed pod removed
1 large red onion, peeled and cut in half
1 medium jalapeno pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 large head of garlic, top cut to expose cloves
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup plain whole yogurt
1 teaspoon crumbled dried mint
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses or a drizzle of honey, optional
1 tablespoon roughly chopped mint, for garnish
1 tablespoon roughly chopped parsley, for garnish
1. Place eggplant, bell pepper, onion and jalapeno pepper on a sheet pan. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt on the vegetables. Toss to coat. Wrap the head of garlic in foil.
2. Put whole eggplants, bell pepper and onion halves, the whole jalapeno and the foil-wrapped head of garlic on a barbecue grate over hot coals. Turning the vegetables frequently, cook until the skin is completely blackened and charred and the vegetables begin to soften and collapse, about 10 minutes. The garlic should be soft when pressed. Set aside to cool.
3. Cut eggplants in quarters top to bottom; carefully separate the flesh from skin with a spoon or paring knife. Discard charred skin. Chop the rest of the vegetables roughly with a large knife or in a food processor, and put it in a fine-meshed sieve to drain excess liquid.
4. Transfer vegetable mixture to a mixing bowl. Press cloves to remove the softened garlic and add to mixing bowl. Add remaining tablespoon of salt, lemon juice, olive oil, yogurt and dried mint. Mix well, and set aside to rest for a few minutes. Check seasoning and adjust.
5. Put mixture in a low serving bowl. Drizzle with pomegranate molasses, if using, and remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Sprinkle with chopped mint and parsley.
Football season is upon us, and when it comes to tailgates and game-watching parties, people tend to think of hamburgers, steaks, brats and hot dogs for grill entrees. Instead, move the meat over and make room for vegetables. Why not try zucchini, eggplant, asparagus, bell peppers or portabella mushrooms? Grilling vegetables caramelizes them and brings out a sweetness not typically found in other cooking preparations.
Even if you’re not a sports fan, grilling offers an opportunity to prepare vegetables in a quick and different way. Many people think everything tastes better on the grill, which also can hold true for vegetables. Some people don’t like eggplant, zucchini or asparagus — until they try it grilled! Taste is not the only benefit. Vegetables cook so quickly on the grill that they retain much of their vitamin and nutrient content.
To prepare vegetables, have the grill warm, but not as hot as you would for grilling meat. Lightly brush the vegetables with olive oil and put them directly on the grill, turning until tender. Try larger hunks, like half a green pepper, large slices of squash or portabella mushroom caps, which are large enough to sit on the grates without falling through. A grill basket, aluminum foil pan or kabobs also can be used.
If you prefer steamed veggies, wrap them in aluminum foil with a little olive oil and your favorite marinade or spices. Seal and place on grill, turning occasionally, for 10 to 12 minutes or until veggies are tender.
Experiment with different spices, marinades and sauces when preparing vegetables, and don’t be afraid to try various flavors. Store-bought mixes and marinades may have extra sodium, sugar and calories compared to a specialized homemade version. Balsamic vinegar or other flavored vinegars are great for drizzling over grilled vegetables or using in a marinade. As always, practice safe grilling techniques and food safety.
The next time you plan to fire up the grill, remember to invite some vegetables to the party.
Angela Shelf Medearis is an award-winning children’s author, culinary historian and the author of seven cookbooks. Her new cookbook is “The Kitchen Diva’s Diabetic Cookbook.” Her website is www.divapro.com. To see how-to videos, recipes and much, much more, Like Angela Shelf Medearis, The Kitchen Diva! on Facebook. Recipes may not be reprinted without permission from Angela Shelf Medearis.