- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 3, 2004

Grilling gives vegetables a slightly smoky extra layer of flavor and dresses them up to look even more appealing than their ordinary colorful selves.

Whether you use a gas grill or charcoal, you will find this platter of flame-kissed vegetables so easy and rewarding that it will likely become a warm-weather standard.

One of the nice things about grilling vegetables is that they need very little preparation, and the grilling itself takes only about 10 minutes. The heat and the smoke provide the seasoning, so all you need is some olive oil, salt and pepper, and perhaps a splash of citrus juice or vinegar.

Take a cardboard egg carton, and place a piece of charcoal in each indentation. Light the carton — your fire will be started. Add more charcoal as needed. The fire is ready when the coals are covered with white ash.

Remember that because vegetables contain no fat, they must be coated with oil to moisturize and prevent sticking. You can add other vegetables to the grill, as well. Try portobello mushrooms or small zucchini that are 2 ounces or larger. Try grilling fruit for dessert. My favorites are the P-fruits: pineapple, peach and papaya.

Cut the pineapple into generous rings, halve the peaches (make sure they’re not too ripe), and cut the papaya into thick wedges. Brush with a neutral-flavored oil, such as canola, and grill for a few minutes. Delicious.

To make this into a complete meal, grill large slabs of polenta or bread that have been generously brushed with olive oil. Add some veggie burgers and sweet potatoes (in foil, directly in the coals) dressed with lime juice.

Platter of flame-kissed vegetables

4 globe artichokes, trimmed and steamed for 25 minutes or until mostly cooked

4 red bell peppers, cored and cut in half lengthwise

8 small bok choy, stems separated from the base, cleaned and dried

2 fennel bulbs, trimmed of stems and fronds and sliced 1/4-inch thick

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Lemon wedges

Prepare a medium-hot fire in the grill. Meanwhile, slice the artichokes in half vertically, and scrape out the choke. Brush surfaces of artichokes, bell peppers, bok choy and fennel with olive oil. Place peppers skin sides down on the grill, and don’t turn them during cooking. They will cook in about 5 to 8 minutes. Remove when the skin is charred and pulling away from the flesh. Peel off the skin.

Grill the artichokes and bok choy, turning occasionally, until tender, about 8 to 12 minutes. (The bok choy will take less time; the fennel will take longer.) Arrange all the cooked vegetables on a platter, and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Garnish with lemon wedges, and serve hot, warm or at room temperature. Makes about 4 servings.


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