Saturday, October 6, 2012

My name is Scott and I am a snackaholic.  I can go through a bag of chips faster than you can say, "Ruffles."  And if they are covered in some sort of exotically flavored powder, I'm done for.  Sweet Maui Onion, Wasabi and Mustard,  or good old fashioned Sour Cream and Onions...I like salty snack treats that taste like other things.

As I have turned over a new leaf, I no longer buy those delicious (yet completely fat and sodium laden) treats.  But, I still like to snack.  So nowadays, I bust out my trusty grill pan and make some grilled and marinated veggies to snack on.  I first encountered this method while working at Bari Ristorante e Enoteca in Memphis, TN. The process is a little time consuming but well worth the work. These bad lads are great on an antipasti plate, in a pannini, or thrown into a spinach salad, couscous, or a chilled pasta salad.  Or just about anything!

Personally, I love making flatbread pizzas with them. Play around with different vegetables and herbs, like peppers, thinly sliced carrots, and spring onions.

Grilled and Marinated Zucchini and Eggplant

This is a method; you decide the quantity.

Garlic, thinly sliced
Capers, drained
Basil, finely chopped (or oregano, mint, or parsley)

Olive oil

Preheat a grill pan over medium high heat. Using a mandolin, slice zucchini length wise in thin, ¼” strips. In batches, grill zucchini until grill marks just barely become visible through the side remaining up (about 3 minutes). Flip and grill for another minute. Set aside to cool.

In a flat container, create one even layer of vegetables. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper. Add a few slivers of garlic, a few capers, and basil. Drizzle with oil. Continue to layer until all of the vegetables have been treated. Cover and refrigerate, allowing the vegetables to marinate for at least 3 hours.

Repeat process with eggplant substituting oregano or mint for the basil.

The key to this is moderation. Don’t go too crazy!

Makings for a great pannini:  zucchini, eggplant, peppers, and arugula with homemade pesto.
If you have a pannini press, schmear just a little bit of pesto on the bread and stack your veggies up for some sandwichy goodness.  If you don't have a pannini press, use your grill pan and weight down the sandwich with a cast iron skillet.

Basil Pesto

I know this isn't vegan, but it sure is tasty.

3 cups loosely packed basil
5 cloves garlic
¼ cup almonds
1 lemon, zest and juice
¼ cup parmesan cheese

¾ cup olive oil

In a small food processor, combine garlic and almonds with a little bit of salt and whir away until they form a paste.  Scrape down the sides and add basil, zest and juice. With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil. Transfer to a bowl and mix in the cheese. Store in an airtight container with a layer of olive oil on top (this helps it retain its vibrant green color).

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