It is the first day of September and summer vegetables are still widely available everywhere. The weather is also still very much like summer around here, therefore, I am featuring the "Chargrilled summer veg" as my sixth post in my River Cottage Veg Everyday series today.
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall states in his comment "to vary the veg as you like" and so I went to the market and brought back the best looking vegetables that I could find.. I also dropped by my favorite bakery and bought two loaves of fresh bread.
We enjoy fresh fennel that hails from Italy - I have not been able to find locally grown fennel anywhere but the Italian fennel bulbs that I bought were not only firm and unblemished but also incredibly aromatic.The Italian fennel is also called "Florence fennel" or finocchio in Italian.
Fresh fennel has a broad, bulbous base, pale green, celery-like stems, bright green, feathery foliage (that I often use as garnish) and greenish-brown seeds, all of which have a lovely aniseed flavor.
My usual way to prepare fennel is cutting the fennel into wedges, placing it in my grill pan and serving it with local honey and fresh soft goat cheese - pan or grill, both methods miraculously turn the crisp fennel slices into sweet and tender vegetable delights.
Next up was sweet corn - after my little adventure with a recipe for the French Fridays with Dorie recipe last week, I now have a reliable source who will part with some of his freshly harvested corn in the husk, I could not resist and placed some lovely fresh corn on the grill as well.
And grilling courgettes also known as zucchinis is the one of best methods of preparing those lovely veggies and handling part of the bumper crop. When choosing courgettes, remember, the smaller they are, the more flavorful they will be.
And no one at our house can resist ripe, bright red, grilled, cherry tomatoes, they are a smaller variety of the common garden tomato and are generally sweeter than larger fruits. They make a fabulous and colorful addition to any platter filled to the rim with tons of summer chargrilled veg.
New potatoes are also wonderful when placed on the grill for a few minutes - I scrubbed them, boiled them in salted water for a good 12 minutes, dried them off, coated them lightly with olive oil and placed them on the grill for a few minutes.
New potatoes are potatoes from the early crop that are smaller than the main crop potatoes. Remember to leave the skins on as much of the flavor (and the vitamin C) is found just under the tender skins.
When we grill, I always make sure to place some Ciabatta on the grill as well - simply delicious alongside any type of grilled vegetables - the thick slices of bread are especially fabulous when topped with those grilled late summer cherry tomatoes. You can easily use the tines of a fork to squash the grilled tomatoes.
And since we enjoy eating garlic, particularly when it is grilled this way, it also was placed on the grill.Grilling garlic gives it a golden color and an unbeatable mellow smoky flavor. Make sure to rub a bit of this delicacy on the grilled and still warm slices of Ciabatta.
And last but not least, thick grilling slices of fresh lemons will impart them with a sweet and smoky flavor - make sure to grill a whole bunch of these and just before serving the veg platter, season to taste with some wonderful sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and drizzle your grilled treasures with the still warm lemon juice.
Sometimes there seems to be no better way to celebrate the late summer bounty of vegetables than by placing them on the grill and serving them on a huge platter. Then you gather the family around the table and let them choose which vegetables they would like to enjoy.
If you like, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall also suggests tossing the veg together with chopped fresh herbs such as finely chopped parsley, basil, chervil, thyme or tarragon or finish them with cheese shavings (Parmiggiano Reggiano or another well-flavored hard cheese). But for today, it was just lemon juice, pepper, salt and a drizzle of a fruity olive oil.
If you own the English edition of this vegetable cookbook, you will find the recipe on page 332 in the chapter on "Roast, Grill & Barbecue".