Monday, May 19, 2008

Grillin' & Chillin'

We had to grill Sunday because it will rain this weekend. It rains here every Memorial Day weekend. (Remember last year?)

I made some make-ahead salads (“chillin”) so I could concentrate on the grilled items (“grillin”).

You know I gotta have my broccoli, so I made Broccoli and Sweet Pepper Salad.

Broccoli and Sweet Pepper Salad

1 large head of broccoli with stem
1 bell pepper, diced (I used half a yellow and half a orange)
1 green onion, white and green parts, chopped
1 T. canola oil
1 T. cider or white wine vinegar
1 T. Dijon mustard
1 clove minced garlic
S&P to taste

Chop the broccoli head and stalk into bite sized pieces and steam for 2 minutes. Put into bowl. Add pepper and onion. Mix together the remaining ingredients and pour over veggies. Chill until ready to serve.

My neighborhood market puts out a monthly magazine which includes recipes. I found several nice looking recipes featuring seasonal produce and organic products, but the most intriguing recipe was Pico de Strawberries. It is pico de gallo using strawberries in place of tomatoes and it is fabulous! I had 2 big cartons of fresh strawberries and I used the least ripe from each container.

Pico de Strawberries

16 ounces strawberries (fresh or frozen), chopped
1 cup sweet white or yellow onion
1 big fat fresh jalapeno, stemmed and seeded
juice of 1 large lime
1 tablespoon raw sugar
¼ cup chopped cilantro

Mix all together and serve as a dip or a salsa topping.

I had it out as an appetizer when Chase arrived for dinner, and I didn’t tell him what it was because you can hardly tell it’s strawberries instead of tomatoes. I asked him to try it with a cracker. He didn’t say anything for a while, then finally said “It tastes like fruit. I like it!” I think it’s much better used as a salsa instead of a dip. I highly recommend serving over sliced avocados!

I used some of the Pico in this next recipe, Individual Layered Salads. I had eaten a nonvegan version of this salad a long time ago, and all I could remember was you start with dressing and end with greens. So here’s my version with ingredients I had on hand.

Individual Layered Salads

Start with a twelve ounce cocktail glass and layer your ingredients in this order, pressing down as you go.

1 ounce (2 tablespoons) vinaigrette (I used “Sante Fe”)
shredded carrots
chopped avocado
pinto beans
pico de gallo
chopped yellow bell peppers
mixed greens

Mash down as best you can, then cover and refrigerate until serving time.

When ready to serve, turn out onto a salad plate. The dressing will drizzle through the layers. Guests can knock over their salads and eat!

This was the most fun part of the meal, and a fantastic salad. Here’s Chase preparing to unmold his salad. (I only had Christmas glasses to put the salad in. You know, Christmas glasses for Christmas cheer…)

He grew impatient and violently shook out his salad.

I, on the other hand, was more patient, which now that I think about it is unusual. My patience pays off!

See how fun!!

Spread on the plate and ready to eat.

The rest of the meal was from the grill – two kinds of kabobs and portabella mushrooms. I think the 6-inch skewers aren’t meant for grilling. Both ends burnt up.

Anyway, I found some “Mandarin Sweet Cherry Tomatoes” at my market. The produce man told me they were incredibly delicious and talked me into buying them. They are very orange.

I marinated them in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, rosemary, and thyme, then skewered them. They only needed about 3 minutes on the grill. They are sweet, really really good tomatoes, and grilling them was a good idea.

For me, portabella mushrooms, marinated in a store bought sesame ginger vinaigrette. Delicious! Tofu Kabobs for Chase, glazed with molasses and mustard. I brushed on the glaze before and while they were on the grill. Chase loved it.

Here’s Chase’s plate. (He put a mushroom on his plate and had a bite, but he’s just not a fan. He also likes to squish his tomatoes.)

And my plates.

The Grillin’ and Chillin’ table.

And cookies for dessert! Vive Banana Oat Bundles (with peanuts) and Happy Herbivore’s tester Chocolate Chip Cookies.

I hope you all have fabulous plans for the long weekend, and I hope I’ve jinxed away the rain.


jenny said...

OMG! I LOVE that salad idea!! You're so clever! :)

VeggieGirl said...

I too have to have my broccoli, haha - LOVE that Broccoli & Sweet Pepper Salad!! Yum!! And that layered salad?? Total perfection and elegance.

Carla said...

Upside down pour out salad - how very cool!

vegan addict said...

Beautiful, colorful, amazing food...yet again! Wow. You can just forward the rain to me! I love rain. And some of your food would be nice too!

Anonymous said...

The Pico de Strawberries sounds awesome! Thanks for the recipe. I love grilled anything. Fortunately for me, there definitely is no chance of rain come Memorial Day. I hope your weekend is nice and sunny :]

Anonymous said...

Wow - everything looks great but that salad is amazing! What a cool, and slightly less expensive way, of serving salad to a crowd and you can make it ahead of time. I can't wait to try it.

Did you pre-soak your wooden skewers? I've heard soaking them in cold water for 15 minutes helps them not burn.

Mihl said...

You always post the most beautiful and colourful foods (maybe I have said that before?)! Those individual salads are such a great idea.

healthyceliac said...

Layered salad? Pure genius!

Liz² said...

yep, salad's awesome! and peanuts in the oat bundles sounds so perfect, wish I could try one. :p

pleasantly plump vegan said...

wow, that layered salad idea is so cool looking! lovely presentation!!!

Kumudha said...

Thanks for sharing delicious recipes!

And the super spices, post was great.

Erin said...

I get the feeling that eating at your house would be like eating at a buffet where I would go back for seconds of everything. I LOVE the layered salad idea, so Martha Stewart-y.

Happy Herbivore! said...

I'm going nuts over your salad - HOW FREAKING AWESOME & fun and the strawberry pico! YOU are a culinary GENIUS!

Ruby Red Vegan said...

If those layered salads are not awesome, then nothing is! I am so glad you posted about this!!! I like that you can put different vegetables in rainbow order, so you can end up with a rainbox salad tower. Yay!

Those Happy Herbivore cookies are everywhere I go online! They look so amazing - I can't wait to try some!

JENNA said...

that layered salad looks amazing. i'm going to have to give that a try one of these days!

Urban Vegan said...

The inverted salad is brilliant! But of course, it all looks fantastic. I'm also lovin' your pico de strawberries.

ChocolateCoveredVegan said...

Pico de strawberries? That’s so creative—I love it! And the Broccoli and Sweet Pepper Salad looks delicious and not-too-hard to make. I’m copying it down, and will try it for sure. I also love the salad-in-a-glass idea.

Rain, rain, go away…

Melody Polakow said...

Wow! I don't know where to start... the strawberry pico looks awesome and I just LOVE the salad idea..

erica said...

I remember the rain, I was so impressed!

Ruby Red Vegan said...

I cannot wait to hear all about your vegan poptart creations! you must devote a post to this. maybe if i can get back to austin this summer i can beg the dhaba joy employees for their snickerdoodle recipe... and yay for texas! too bad i'm only a texas girl in the summer and on holiday break now - i go to college in missouri.

thanks for the larabar pointer. i am definitely going to keep trying. i even bought some juicy medjool dates and hazelnuts today for more experimentation...

VeganCowGirl said...

The salad idea is brilliant! And the cookies look way too good!

Vicki's Vegan Vice said...

oh how I'd LOVE to grill & chill with you!! The layered salad is awesome! I'm so going to steal that idea! It might even stir some interest in my non-salad-eating children...

Anonymous said...

Hey there! I'm back to blogging and catching up on all my favorite bloggers. I have just bookmarked so many of your recipes I don't know where to start. Everything you make is always so colorful. I can't decide what I want to make first. The layered salad or the pico de strawberries.

I love your plates. They're so zen-like. Just beautiful.

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Anonymous said...

Wow, that salad looks AMAZING! Such gorgeous presentation. I'd have to beat my friends away with a stick or else it would be gone in seconds.

Vegan_Noodle said...

Not sure about up in Austin, but it's been a pretty clear (but hot!) weekend so far for us!

That strawberry pico looks delicious! And I love that layered salad. WE got the grill out on Friday and will probably grill tomorrow night as well. We will have to stay inside for the chillin part :-) Hope you're having a good weekend!

Peggy the Veggie said...

That all looks soo good and fresh, but I think the layered salad is an especially cool idea. I am most definitely trying that sometime!

Simple and Divine said...

OKay, you are too much for words! SO incredibly creative and talented!!! I can't wait to try that salad!