Peanut Butter and Purple Onions

Sounds crazy until you try it.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Fear of Frying

I'm a clumsy person. Oh, not spectacularly, but there's a reason that Dimples refers to our bathroom cabinet as the Bermuda Triangle of the apartment -- I can't get through an evening's ablutions without dropping at least one bottle of this or jar of that. I'm just not particularly well-coordinated. (And luckily I can buy most of my beauty regimen in plastic containers.)

Which means that dropping bits of food into inches of hot oil is really not a good idea. I don't even like to fry bacon -- too much opportunity for grease mischief. And for a long time, I was also frightened of my grill pan. Even though the bubblebubbletoilandtrouble thing wasn't an issue, something about all that heat and heavy cast iron seemed ominous.

But it's spring, and asparagus is everywhere -- and my absolute favorite way to prepare asparagus is on the grill. So last night, after some deep breaths, I reached for the grill pan.

I'm pleased to report total success! The asparagus, zucchini, and mushrooms soaked up tons of flavor from my on-the-fly marinade, which gets an extra savory-sweet kick from Chinese five-spice powder. And the tofu, which I marinated in a dark sesame marinade, grilled gorgeously.

And yeah, well, I did burn my wrist a little. On each side. But hey, what did I expect.

Spicy Grilled Vegetables

one medium bunch asparagus (thicker spears will be easier to manipulate)
two small zucchini
a handful of crimini mushrooms
soy sauce, preferably low-sodium
extra-virgin olive oil
white pepper
Chinese five-spice powder
honey, if you like

Clean and trim your vegetables. Slice the mushrooms in half and the zucchini in to 1/3" planks. Add all the veggies to a large Ziploc bag.

Shake in about a tsp. white pepper, half a tsp. five-spice powder, and more or less a T. of honey if you're using it. Add anywhere from half a cup to three-quarters of a cup of soy sauce, then shake in a quarter cup of olive oil. Seal the bag, squishing out the air, and wiggle everything around. Toss the bag into the refrigerator for at least two hours and preferably overnight, turning it periodically.

To grill, heat your pan (or your actual grill) to medium-high heat. Make sure the grill is hot before adding the vegetables. Add the asparagus first; they will take longest to cook, about 3 minutes per side. Add the mushrooms and zucchini after you turn the asparagus for the first time. Everything should finish more or less at the same time.

Eat hot off the grill, or, if you must be more civilized, serve on toasted buns, with or without cheese. They're also excellent alongside grilled chicken.

* This is an intense marinade, and it's only fair to point out that I have a salty tooth. You may want to marinate the vegetables for a shorter time to see if you agree with me.
* Other veggies to try -- eggplant, sweet onions, red peppers, baby bok choy...


  • At 7:03 AM, Blogger Alanna said…

    Thanks for the reminder to get out the grill pan more often (make that EVER) since this household seems to be grill-impaired ... ;- )

  • At 9:08 AM, Blogger Lis said…

    I heart grilled veggies.. and seriously? I never even thought about using my grill pan to grill them indoors.. was waiting for the weather to break. duh! Thanks for the post :D

  • At 11:56 AM, Blogger darlamay said…

    grilled veggis are my favorite!

  • At 7:26 PM, Blogger Kalyn said…

    This is one of my favorite ways to cook zucchini, but I hadn't thought of using it for asparagus. Thanks!

  • At 2:46 PM, Blogger BNA said…

    Hi Alanna! I'm going a little crazy with the grill pan -- I think I've used it five nights out of seven lately...

    Lis! Come to the land of indoor grilled veggies!

    Darla, I knew you'd approve...

    Hi Kalyn! You'll really like it with asparagus, I bet.

  • At 1:27 PM, Blogger Sara said…

    Hey there - I burn myself while cooking *all the time*. I also love grilled veggies in the summer: I usually just grill some zucchini, onions, eggplants, asparagus and peppers, then chop them into 1 inch pieces and toss them with balsamic, olive oil and rosemary. But your marinade looks delicious! I'm going to try that next :)

  • At 3:25 PM, Blogger BNA said…

    Hi Sara! I like the sound of your method - I'm totally going to steal it for next time.


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