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Grill-Roasted Red Peppers

June 23, 2016 Menu No Comments

Here’s a fun recipe that I picked up from America’s Test Kitchen. I was especially happy to learn this recipe because we have an electric glass top stove in our house, which obviously is not appropriate for roasting red peppers over an open flame. Now that I was introduced to this grilled version, I am looking forward to many jars of home-made roasted red peppers this summer season.

Traditionally, you would roast a red bell pepper over an open flame, making sure that the pepper gets charred evenly on all four sides. Once charred, you place the peppers into a paper bag or a sealed container to cool, then simply peel off the blistered, charred skin and voila…roasted red peppers! The secret to this unique recipe is roasting the peppers with a bit of olive oil and fresh garlic in a covered aluminum tray on the grill prior to sitting them over the open flames. This step actually steams the peppers, causing them to flatten out and become much more pliable. When it’s time to grill the peppers over the open flame, they will actually lay flat on the grill, which means you only have to grill two sides of the pepper instead of four. You can re-use the foil covering from the roasting pan to wrap and cool the peppers prior to peeling the blistered skin. And be sure to reserve the oil and garlic from the roasting pan, as you can add it to the roasted peppers as a marinade for additional flavor.

Step 1 - remove the cap, core and seeds from 2 to 3 red bell peppers. Place in an aluminum tray, drizzle with 1/2 cup olive oil. Add a few cloves of garlic, whole or minced, to the tray. Cover with foil.

Step 1 – remove the cap, core and seeds from 2 to 3 red bell peppers. Place in an aluminum tray, drizzle with 1/2 cup olive oil. Add a few cloves of garlic, whole or minced, to the tray. Cover with foil.

 

Step 2 - place the covered tray over direct high heat. Lower the lid on the grill, let roast for 20 minutes. Carefully remove tray and foil covering when done.

Step 2 – place the covered tray over direct high heat. Lower the lid on the grill, let roast for 20 minutes. Carefully remove tray and foil covering when done.

 

Step 3 - remove the peppers from the tray, reserving the foil covering and the oil and garlic marinade. Lay the peppers over direct high heat. Grill for 20 minutes, or until both sides of the peppers are charred and start to blister, flipping occasionally.

Step 3 – remove the peppers from the tray, reserving the foil covering and the oil and garlic marinade. Lay the peppers over direct high heat. Grill for 20 minutes, or until both sides of the peppers are charred and start to blister, flipping occasionally.

 

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Step 4 – wrap the charred peppers in the aluminum foil, or in a sealed container or paper bag, let cool for 1 hour. Once cooled, peel off charred skin, slice peppers into strips and mix with oil and garlic marinade.

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Grilled Artichoke Hearts

August 16, 2015 Appetizer, Menu, Salads No Comments

Artichoke hearts are hands-down one of my all time favorite vegetables…and yes, they are considered a vegetable. Whether used in a salad, over pasta, with chicken or fish, or even served as a dip, this anti-oxident rich veggie adds the perfect amount of zesty tang and flavor. For this recipe that I’m sharing with you, the artichoke hearts are the one-man star of the show. This dish is actually so easy, that I feel guilty to refer to it as a recipe. But it does involve some cooking (a very minimal amount at that), it makes for a great side dish to just about any meal, and it went over really well when I made them for a recent family grill-out. So all bases are covered to consider this a great summer recipe. All you need is a jar of marinated artichoke hearts (the jar size solely depending on how many you would like to make), a grill heated to medium-high, a grilling basket, a large stirring spoon and about 5-10 minutes of your time.

Place your grilling basket over direct heat. Remove the desired amount of hearts from the jar and carefully place them into the basket. I stress the word carefully because the oil-soaked hearts will cause the flames to temporarily flare up. Be sure to not pour the hearts into the basket directly from the jar, because the extra oil may cause the flames to rise to a dangerous level. Once the flames die down, stir the hearts to make sure that they get even heat distribution. The hearts will retain their natural moisture (along with marinated coating), so they will not char or burn. Instead, they will pick up a nice, bold smoky flavor, while retaining their soft texture. Continue to stir for about 5-7 minutes. Remove from basket, serve and enjoy!

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Grilled Garlic Parmesan Cauliflower

August 5, 2015 Appetizer, Entrees, Menu No Comments

Cauliflower, in my opinion, is a vegetable that doesn’t get due respect. Not that cauliflower has a bad rap…it just simply seems to be ignored. Aside from a store-bought veggie tray, cauliflower doesn’t make many other appearances. Even when you do spot it on a party plate, it is usually overshadowed by the carrots, peppers, cucumbers and broccoli. As a vegetable lover, I find this to be a real shame. Cauliflower is one of the healthiest vegetables that you could enjoy. A cousin to cabbage, kale and broccoli, cauliflower is packed with nutrients and antioxidants, along with many anti-inflamitory, cardiovascular and digestive benefits.

Recently, I was introduced to a delicious cauliflower pizza, which was a white brick-oven pizza topped with sautéed cauliflower. The pizza itself was tremendous, but the cauliflower was definitely the shining star. Because I love grilling up veggies during these summer months, the pizza encouraged me to give cauliflower its due time on my grill. Many grilled cauliflower recipes that I found while doing my research had you slicing the cauliflower head into thick, steak-like wedges. While this sounded delicious, I wanted to take advantage of the softer, sautéed taste and texture. I was afraid that following the grilled wedge version would have given more of a charred taste. Enjoyable, no doubt…but again, not what I was aiming for.

What I decided to do was divide the head into individual florets, discarding the thicker stem portions. I then made a marinade by mixing some olive oil, parmesan cheese, garlic powder, and some salt and pepper (I love the taste of black pepper with cauliflower). I mixed the marinade with the cauliflower, making sure that the florets were evenly coated. I then wrapped the florets in an aluminum foil pouch and set it on my grill, over indirect heat. After about 35-40 minutes, the cauliflower was done, and cooked to my exact expectations. Perfect! The marinade made for the perfect flavor, and softened up the cauliflower just enough (cauliflower, in my opinion, is best when partially cooked, instead of fully cooked and mushy). The heat from the grill did brown the florets slightly, which gave a nice, yet subtle grilled taste. Because my grill top was already packed with other items, the only indirect area that I had available was my upper rack. Had there been more room on the grill, I would have found an area where I could have closed off one burner to avoid charring. But it’s nice to know that the upper rack serves a good purpose with this dish. No doubt, cauliflower will become a regular item on my grill!

Grilled Garlic Parmesan Cauliflower

1 cauliflower head, chopped into individual florets, discarding thick stems
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tspn parmesan cheese
1/2 tspn garlic powder
salt and pepper

Preheat your grill to medium-high heat (about 400˚). Designate an indirect heating area, where the flames will not come in direct contact with the cauliflower. An upper rack works well for this. Mix the oil, parmesan cheese and garlic powder. Place the chopped cauliflower in a bowl and add the oil mixture. Stir to evenly coat the florets, adding additional oil if needed. Add some salt and pepper, stir again. Tear off a piece of aluminum foil large enough to hold the florets. Pour the florets onto the foil, then carefully  fold and wrap the foil to make a loose pouch, open side on top. Place the pouch on your indirect heating area, close the lid and let cook for 35-40 minutes, checking occasionally. When the cauliflower starts to slightly char, carefully remove from grill. Let sit for a few minutes before opening the pouch. Carefully open the pouch, avoiding getting burned but the released steam. Plate it, serve it and enjoy!

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Grilled Chicken Italiano

June 30, 2015 Entrees, Menu No Comments

Growing up in South Philadelphia, I have enjoyed more than my share of delicious and delectable sandwiches. While cheesesteaks, hoagies and roast pork sandwiches rank among highest on most Philadelphians’ lists, my all time favorite ‘sang-weech’ is the classic Chicken Italiano. Seasoned chicken breast, broccoli rabe, prosciutto and provolone packed in a crispy Italian roll…what is there not to love? Now I do realize that there are different variations of a Chicken Italiano, using other ingredients such as peppers, mozzarella and sun dried tomatoes. But the prosciutto, provolone and rabe combination is the version that I fell in love with. For this post, I would like to share with you my grilled version of this amazing combination….a perfect dish for any summer cook-out!

This grilled version does differ just a bit from the classic sandwich. First, while broccoli rabe is one of my all-time favorite greens, I decided instead to use a home made basil-mint pesto. My garden is overloaded with fresh basil and mint, so I figured it would be a great opportunity to put both to good use. Of course, you can stick with the traditional broccoli rabe if you prefer. I also like to prepare and serve the chicken breasts whole. You can cut the chicken breasts into smaller pieces to serve in a sandwich if you like, but I find that cooking and serving the chicken breasts whole allows for prosciutto, provolone and pesto (or rabe) to melt evenly on top.

You’ll want to marinate the chicken breasts for a good two to four hours before grilling. You can find a good, basic lemon and garlic marinade by clicking here. You can also used a bottled marinade of your choice, but I would stick to a basic garlic, lemon or white wine flavored marinade. There are too many good tastes happening with this dish, so you don’t want to overpower the chicken with an strong-flavored marinade.

Grilled Chicken Italiano

4-6 boneless and skinless chicken breasts
4-6 slices prosciutto
4-6 slices provolone cheese
*Basic lemon-garlic marinade (see recipe below) or 1 bottle marinade (any combination of garlic, lemon and white wine will work)
**Fresh basil-mint pesto (see recipe below)

Pierce chicken breasts with a fork to allow marinade to soak in. Place chicken breasts in a plastic bag, pour marinade into bag, making sure that all of the chicken breasts are well coated. Refrigerate for two to four hours.

Pre-heat your grill to high. Make sure that your grill grates are brushed with oil to avoid sticking. Reduce heat to medium-high, and place the chicken on the grill, discarding the bag with the used marinade. Keep lid closed. Turn chicken occasionally, until browned and done. Top the chicken breasts with a dollop of the pesto, a slice of provolone and a slice of prosciutto. Allow to heat for another few minutes until the cheese starts to melt and the prosciutto starts to slightly crisp. Remove from grill, serve and enjoy!

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*Lemon-Garlic Marinade
Adapted from food.com

2 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
3 tablespoons lemon juice, fresh preferred
1⁄8 teaspoon pepper

Combine all ingredients together to pour over chicken.

Note – this recipe’s measurements are for 1-1.5 lbs of chicken breasts. You may need to increase the ingredients for the amount of chicken breasts that you are making.

**Fresh Basil-Mint Pesto
Adapted from simplyrecipes.com

1 cup fresh basil leaves, packed
1 cup fresh mint leaves, packed
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts
3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Combine the basil and mint with the pine nuts, pulse a few times in a food processor. (If you are using walnuts instead of pine nuts and they are not already chopped, pulse them a few times first, before adding the basil.) Add the garlic, pulse a few times more.

Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. Add the grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Use immediately, or refrigerate in a sealed container for up to a week.
Makes 1 cup.

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