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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!

cauliflower1

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Grilled Parmesan Basil Cherry Tomatoes

May 21, 2014 Appetizer, Menu, Salads No Comments

Cherry tomatoes and grape tomatoes are a fun and versatile fruit/vegetable (whichever you prefer) that I enjoy all year round, especially during the summer season. Whether mixed in a salad, or popped as a quick snack, their juicy flavor always brings a smile to my face. For this recipe I added a little extra complementary taste and texture which really added a nice, yet subtle complexity and made for a beautiful summer side dish. You can prepare this dish either on a grill (using a grill basket) or in an oven. The tomatoes cook quickly using both methods, but I prefer the slightly charred taste of being cooked over an open flame. Whichever method you prefer, you’ll be sure to enjoy these tasty and juicy treats.

 

 

 

Grilled Parmesan Basil Cherry Tomatoes

Ingredients
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 tspn garlic powder
1 tspn chopped basil
1 tbspn parmesan cheese
pinch of salt
olive oil

Directions
Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl. In a separate bowl, lightly drizzle the tomatoes with olive oil so that they are all evenly coated. Roll the tomatoes in breadcrumb mixture. The breading may not coat evenly but rather clumpy. This is fine, as the breading will adhere to the tomatoes when cooked.

Grilled – Pour the tomatoes into a grilling basket. Place the basket on an indirect heated portion of a hot grill. Close the lid and let cook for about 10 minutes, until the tomatoes start to shrink.

Oven Roasted – Heat oven to 400˚. Place tomatoes on a cooking sheet. Roast until tomatoes start to shrink and the skin starts to shrivel, approximately 10 minutes.

 Tomatoes1

 

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Baked Parmesan Wonton Chips

March 30, 2014 Appetizer, Menu No Comments

If you’re a reader of my blog, a friend of mine on Facebook, or have recently been at a dinner party with me, you’ll know that I’ve been experimenting a lot lately with appetizers that use egg roll and wonton wrappers. These recipes have given me lots of creative energy and inspiration. They’ve also left me with an over-abundance of unused wonton wrappers sitting in my fridge.

We recently put the extra wrappers to good use as we had a little fun in the kitchen with the kids, making batches of baked wontons. The recipe is very simple and easy, and could be found on countless food sites. You place the wrappers on a cookie sheet, either whole or cut in half to make a traditional tortilla chip shape, and you bake ’em. Done.

Baked wontons can be served plain, without any seasoning. The chips will have a light, crispy taste to them that would go well with any number of dips. To kick our chip flavor up a bit, we sprinkled them with a bit of parmesan cheese before baking them…and they were a huge hit. There was just enough cheesy zest there to really give a nice flavor to the chip.

You can go all kinds of directions with seasoning for wonton chips – anywhere from barbecue or ranch seasoning to Italian spices to cinnamon. But I would suggest to avoid salt. There is enough flavor in the wonton wrappers where just a little bit of salt may be too much. Baking without seasoning does not require any cooking spray. But if you do decide to add seasoning to your chips, be sure to spray them prior to seasoning and baking. Spraying the chips will also make for a slightly crispier chip, which we all preferred in my house.

Now chip away!

Baked Parmesan Wonton Chips

1 package wonton wrappers (found in the produce section of your grocery store)
grated parmesan cheese
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400˚. Place individual wrappers, either whole or cut in half diagonally, on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Lightly spray the top of the chips, then lightly dust the chips with grated parmesan. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool for a few minutes.

Serve and enjoy.

Ava and Jules with the wonton wrappers.

Ava and Jules with the wonton wrappers.

Seasoning the chips.

Seasoning the chips.

wonton1

 

 

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Crostini: The Perfect Party Appetizer

December 29, 2013 Appetizer, Menu No Comments

If you’re looking for a simple and impressive appetizer for your New Year’s Eve house party, or if you want to look like a gourmet, rock-star guest at someone else’s house party, crostini is the perfect dish to serve. With just a few basic ingredients, many of which you probably already have in your kitchen, you can prepare and serve a variety of crostini in under 20 minutes. If you’re planning to make crostini for another person’s house party, you’ll want to bring all ingredients with you and prepare it while you’re there. Check with your host ahead of time to see if they have olive oil, grated parmesan cheese and salt and pepper on hand for you to use (you’ll only need a bit of each). If they don’t, be sure to let them know that you’ll supply it…and then leave whatever is unused at your host’s house as a token of appreciation for them allowing you to use their kitchen.

 

 

Ingredients:
1 long, thin loaf of crusty bread, preferably a baguette
1 ball fresh mozzarella (do not use the bagged shredded cheese)
6-8 pieces of thin-sliced prosciutto (the pre-packaged variety will work for this in a pinch)
1 small jar bruschetta topping
olive oil
grated parmesan cheese
salt
pepper

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350º. Slice the baguette into 1/2″ slices. Place the slices on a baking sheet. Lightly drizzle the slices with olive oil, then sprinkle with a light amount of salt and pepper (do not add salt to the pieces that you will be topping with prosciutto, there is enough salt in the meat). Use any combination of thin slices of the mozzarella, pieces of the prosciutto (about 1/4 of a slice of prosciutto for each piece of bread will be plenty), a spoonful of the bruschetta topping and the parmesan cheese to assemble a variety of crostini. I like to top some with the prosciutto and mozzarella, some with the bruschetta and parmesan, and some with just the parmesan and an additional drizzle of olive oil. You can also add some garlic powder for additional taste. Bake the crostini for about 8-10 minutes, until the bread is toasted and the toppings are heated but not burned.

Serve immediately and enjoy!

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