When spring comes out from under that white blanket of snow, so does the grill. In general, grilling is associated with the aroma of searing meat and often over looked is the healthiest part of a meal; the veggies! Flame kissed with a slightly smoky flavor, grilled vegetables can become the best part of the grilling experience. Delicious!
Most vegetables cook evenly and are less likely to stick if marinated first. A marinade is made of three main components; an oil, an acid, and a seasoning blend. Although any type of oil can be used as the base of a marinade, using a virgin olive or a coconut oil is better from a health standpoint. A small amount of oil is necessary to prevent the vegetables from sticking to the grill.
The marinade must also contain either an acidic component such as lemon or lime juice or wine vinegar, or, an enzymatic blend made from foods such as pineapple or papaya. Depending on individual preferences, spices or herbs are mixed with these to flavor the food. Since there are so many possible combinations, every dish can boast its own marinade.
A marinade will naturally draw the water from vegetables. Therefore, those with less natural water seem to work particularly well when the veggies are going to soak for a length of time. For instance, artichokes, asparagus, zucchini, onions, peppers, mushrooms and cauliflower can be marinated for quite a while.
Vegetables with high water content, such as tomatoes, need to marinate separately or be added shortly before use to prevent a dilution of the marinade.
A marinade can be mixed from any spices that suit your taste. For instance, if you have a liking for Thai food, the following marinade will give you that flavor but without excessive sodium, and can be stored in the refrigerator for a week.
1/3 cup of rice vinegar
1/3 cup of water
2 teaspoons of low sodium soy sauce
2 cloves of minced garlic
1 Tablespoon of minced ginger
2 Tablespoons of unsweetened orange juice
Good vegetables for this marinade would be squash, peppers, carrots and cauliflower. If they are going to be grilled, allow vegetables to soak for an hour. Another option would be to simmer the vegetables in a saucepan with the marinade for about 5 minutes.
For an interesting, somewhat sweeter blend of spices, mix these together and let the vegetables soak overnight.
½ c. canola oil
½ c. olive oil
3 c. apple cider vinegar
½ c. granulated sugar
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp. prepared mustard
1 tbsp. salt
Black pepper to taste
Suggested vegetables for this marinade are hearts of palm or artichoke, carrot slices, zucchini, cucumbers, celery and whole, small tomatoes.
Here are few more marinades that you may want to try…
1 hot Chile pepper, minced
2/3 cup orange liqueur
1 bunch fresh cilantro
4 1/4 cups fresh orange juice
1 1/3 cups coriander seeds, ground
1/4 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. cider vinegar
2 tbsp. honey
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 scallions, minced
1/3 c. chili sauce
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. sugar
2 bay leaves
The thing to remember about mixing a marinade is that it isn’t rocket science. If the blend of spices is well received by your family and guest, then it’s a hit! Just keep experimenting and you’ll soon have a favorite.