Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Get Grilling - without the grill!!

One of the coolest things about this new work place I'm at is the awesome cafe. Not only does it promote healthy eating, but the food is delicious too. And the very first thing I noticed was the well-stocked salad bar area. Ever since I started with a  salad-at-lunch routine, keeping a meatless salad interesting, and satisfying, has become quite a challenge. So I took to peeking in the cafe's salad bar to glean off some ideas outside of what I do to my salad.

One of the very first things I noticed was a bunch of grilled vegetables. Duh! Why didn't I think of it.

"Because you don't have a grill pan, and it's not grilling season yet", pat came the reply from the devil within. Of course!!

Around a month ago, when the weather finally started turning spring-like, I asked A if he would get the grill cleaned and ready (we have a small, outdoor gas grill that I have no idea how to use....). He nodded, ....and that was the end of it.....

A month later, I asked him - shouldn't you get the grill out on the deck now? We could do burgers on Memorial Day... This time,  he looked right through me; and went away on a business trip on the Holiday weekend... :-(

After another few days of drooling and buying grilled veggies for my salad at the cafeteria; inspiration struck one evening when I was making a waffle iron bean and cheese quesadilla for the girls' dinner. 

I had one lone zucchini in the fridge to experiment with. The results - I have made grilled vegetables for my salads / burritos/ quesadillas anytime I want, in less than 5 min. without an ounce of trouble. All you need  is a panini press or waffle iron and a will to do it!

In this picture here I've used green and yellow squash. And here's how I did my “grilling"

  • Cut off thickish roundels of squash.
  • Wash and pat dry on a paper towel.
  • In a bowl, pour off about 1Tbsp EVOO on the squash pieces.
  • Mix to coat. Let sit for a couple of minutes.
  • In the meanwhile, heat your panini press (or quesadilla maker, or sandwich maker or waffle iron).
  • Keep the vegetable pieces in the appliance, close lid.
  • Check back in 2 min.; move the pieces around to make sure they don't stick.
  • Let go for another 2-3 min, till your vegetables get slightly soft, and get those pretty brown "grill marks"
  • Let cool, sprinkle with salt and black pepper (optional) and enjoy!!

My two cents: A lot of times, little cheats like this are totally worth it. I have wanted to buy a grill pan forever -  the constraint, space. A smaller kitchen with not adequate storage makes it hard to buy everything that catches my fancy. But over the years I've realized that there's  usually an alternative hidden in plain sight. I am really glad that I  was able to uncover this hidden gem. As of now, I've grilled mostly the squashes, and cherry tomatoes once. I plan to try on some fruits soon- will let you know how that goes. For now, I am happy with my almost no-fuss, easy grilled vegetables to top my meatless salad!

Meanwhile, if you have any little kitchen secrets, please share! And bring out that sandwich maker for uses other than grilled cheeses!!