This Labor Day weekend just might be the last time you can fire up the Weber this year. Use these recipes and tips to end the outdoor cooking season on a deliciously high note.
By Daniel Duane Thu, Sep 1, 2011
CHEF: Jean-Pierre Moullé, co-head chef at Chez Panisse, in Berkeley, California
Jean-Pierre Moullé, a French native and California surfer, spends six months a year in Paris, hardly working, and the other six in Berkeley, running the kitchen at Chez Panisse. Chez Panisse was among the very first American restaurants to install a wood- fired grill, in the 1970s, and it kicked off the craze for fresh, local, seasonal produce. Summer vegetables have plenty of mois- ture to handle the grill’s high heat. They sing with the grill’s deep char flavors, and they cook quickly. “Think of vegetables for grilling in two categories,” says Moullé. “Vegetables you have to cook a little before you grill them, and vegetables you do not have to cook before you grill them.”
VEGETABLES THAT NEED PREP
When grilling vegetables like onions, leeks, or asparagus, the outside burns long before the inside becomes tender, which is why Moullé blanches them first:
1. Bring a huge pot of water to a boil; add 1 cup of salt per gallon. (Bigger pots prevent water from cooling once cold vegetables are dropped in.)
2. All but the very thinnest of asparagus should be peeled first, and all but the smallest leeks and onions should have their tough outer layers peeled off.
3. Add vegetables to the water in small batches so your water never dips below the boiling point. Cook just until the tip of a sharp paring knife slips into the center without much resistance.
4. Remove vegetables to paper towels, let them cool and dry, and then toss them with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Shortly before serving, place directly over very hot coals, just long enough to get good sear marks and a wisp of smoke.
VEGETABLES THAT ARE GRILL-READY
Eggplant, zucchini, summer squash, and peppers: All these high-summer classics can go straight onto a hot grill, but slicing them in flat pieces helps. (Keep slices big and long, so they don’t fall between the grill bars.) Tomatoes shouldn’t be sliced at all, but just halved crosswise, along their equator. Then, simply toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and lay them flesh-side down on a medium-hot grill, long enough to soften up and sear.
BETTER THAN BBQ SAUCE: GRILLED VEGETABLE VINAIGRETTE
Something Light, But With a Kick
Mash 1 peeled garlic clove to a smooth paste, and whisk together with 1/4 cup red wine vinegar and 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil. • Arrange grilled vegetables on a platter, and drizzle the vinaigrette over the top. • Season with salt and pepper.