Quick & Easy Grilled Potatoes

Quick & Easy Grilled Potatoes - potatoes on the barbecue

I don’t know what the weather is like where you are, but here, it is unseasonably hot! I am not complaining, as I love sunshine and heat.  But the extreme heat does mean I am doing lots of cooking outdoors.  Yep, I’m looking at you barbecue.  Grilling is my cooking method of choice right now.

Grilling is probably my favorite way to cook. Not only is it a great way to keep the house cool, there are no pots and pans to wash after the meal.  Add the fact that grilled food tastes great, and it’s a win-win-win (grin).

When grilling, you aren’t limited to just meat. Potatoes and vegetables prepared on the barbecue are also wonderful, and quick to prepare.

Quick? Potatoes on the barbecue are quick?  Yes, I hear your disbelief.  If you are wondering how potatoes done on the barbecue are quick, it’s probably because you are preparing them the way I did in the past.  Whole potatoes wrapped in foil.  It’s true; those types of potatoes don’t cook quickly.  Not even when you start them in the microwave first. But I promise you, yes, grilled potatoes can be done quickly.

The trick to quick and easy grilled potatoes is to slice them before putting them on the grill. This way, lots more surface area gets heated, and the cooking time is dramatically reduced.

I started grilling my potatoes this way last year, and I won’t go back. Not only do they cook quickly, but these potatoes have so much more flavour than the wrapped in foil style ones.  I wish I had figured this out years ago. No more need to start the potatoes super early.  This way, the potatoes grill in about the same amount of time as any meat you might also be grilling.

The microwave is still your friend here. I give my potatoes a head start in the microwave.  They get a few minutes on medium high, I let them cool for several minutes (to avoid burnt fingers) and then cut them into ½” thick slices.  Brush a little oil on both sides of the potato slices, add some salt, other seasoning like Italian seasoning, and then cook them on low heat directly on the grill for about 5 minutes per side.  The results are potatoes that are fully cooked, with nice grill marks, and flavour like a cross between a roasted, baked and twice baked potato.

Quick Easy Grilled Potatoes with Sour Cream and Chives

You can top these anyway you like. We are partial to sour cream and chives, but grated cheese is very tasty too.  Or you can leave them naked.  They are great that way too.

What is your favorite thing to grill?

Recipe: Quick and Easy Grilled Potatoes

Easy Grilled Potatoes Quick to prepare on barbecue

 

Ingredients:

  • Medium size potatoes, 1 per person
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • ½ teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sour cream per potato (optional)
  • 2 sprigs fresh chives, finely chopped (optional)

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat gas barbecue.
  2. Wash and scrub potatoes, keeping skin on, but removing any eyes or other blemishes.
  3. Use a fork to poke holes all around potato. The holes will allow moisture to escape potatoes while in microwave.
  4. Microwave potatoes on medium-high for about 3 minutes (could be longer if you have lots of potatoes.
  5. Let potatoes cool for 5 to 10 minutes, and then cut into ½” thick slices.
  6. In a medium size bowl, add canola oil, Italian seasoning and salt. Add potato slices and mix well to coat potatoes evenly.
  7. Reduce heat for burners you are using to low, and place potatoes in single layer directly on grill. Cook about five minutes per side.
  8. Remove from grill and serve. Top with sour cream and chives before serving if desired.

 

Roasted Cabbage with Ginger Peanut Vinaigrette Recipe

recipe roasted cabbage Asian vinaigrette ginger peanut

This winter cabbage made frequent appearances in my vegetable CSA (community supported agriculture) box.  Green cabbage, red cabbage, Napa cabbage, Savoy cabbage, they all took turns.  I had to become resourceful and find ways to prepare cabbage other than slaw in order to not waste it.  It doesn’t actually take a lot of cabbage to make coleslaw, so one head of cabbage goes a long way in a household of two.

red cabbage in quarters

One day I decided to try roasting the cabbage.  I roast pretty much any and every vegetable, so why not cabbage?  I knew one could grill romaine hearts, so the leap to roasting cabbage seemed pretty reasonable.  I am soooo glad I roasted this vegetable.  The roasting softens the flavour (especially for red cabbage) and makes it sweeter.  The darker, crispy bits give a bit of smoky flavour.  Roasted cabbage tastes very different than raw cabbage, but retains some crunch.  Roasted cabbage is definitely a keeper in my vegetable repertoire.

A quarter of a cabbage is a pretty big vegetable portion, so even though we eat a lot of vegetables, I don’t usually serve other veggies with this.  To make it more like a wedge salad, I decided it needed some vinaigrette.  I went with Asian inspired flavours for the vinaigrette, and developed a ginger peanut sauce.  The sauce is a great complement to the roasted cabbage.

Roasted vegetables Roasted cabbage with ginger peanut sauce

A note about the oils used in this recipe.  I use light olive oil on the cabbage as it has a high smoke point (even higher than canola oil) and works well for roasting vegetables at high heat.  Don’t use extra virgin olive oil, which has a low smoke point.  If you don’t have light olive oil, canola oil works too.

Canola oil works for the vinaigrette, as it has a neutral taste that won’t clash with the Asian inspired flavours of the sauce.

The sesame oil is used in small quantity as it has a strong flavour.  It’s distinct flavour adds depth to the vinaigrette, so I highly recommend using it.  You will find many uses for it in Asian flavour inspired dishes.

If you find yourself with cabbage in the fridge, and just don’t know what to do with it but don’t want to waste it, try roasting it (or grilling it) and serving it with this vinaigrette.  It’s a quick way to eat a cabbage, and it’s pretty tasty too.

 

Recipe: Roasted Cabbage with Ginger Peanut Vinaigrette

Serves 4

Recipe ginger peanut sauce on roasted cabbage

Ingredients:

  • 1 cabbage (any type), quartered
  • 1 tablespoon light olive oil
  • Salt
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 ½ tablespoon natural peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds (for garnish)

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 425 F (400 F if convection oven).
  2. Place quartered cabbage on parchment paper lined baking sheet. Liberally coat each quarter cabbage with light olive oil, and sprinkle with salt.  Roast cabbage for 15 to 18 minutes, flipping cabbage once halfway through cook time.
  3. While cabbage is roasting, make ginger peanut vinaigrette. Place fresh ginger, garlic, soy sauce, vinegar, peanut butter and sesame oil into small bowl and whisk until peanut butter is blended.  Gradually pour in canola oil while still whisking, and whisk until well blended and creamy.  Alternately, you can use an immersion blender to mix the vinaigrette, but in this case, place all ingredients in a tall container and blend until vinaigrette has a smooth consistency.
  4. To serve cabbage, place on plates, drizzle each quarter with about 1 ½ tablespoon of ginger peanut vinaigrette, and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

 

Leek Potato Soup Recipe

Leek Potato Soup Recipe

On a rainy day like today, I crave a bowl of soup.  Soup is so warm and comforting; it’s just what I need on a cool, gray, rainy Monday.  Leek potato soup is Greg’s favorite. A batch of it goes quickly in our house.

Leek potato soup is a classic for a reason.  The mild onion flavour of leeks boosts the taste of potatoes, and the potato brings a smooth, velvety texture to the soup.  Add some garlic and thyme to enhance the flavours and a great bowl of soup can be savoured.

I like to use bacon when making leek potato soup.  It adds a depth to the flavour and some texture to an otherwise smooth soup.

leeks, onions, red potatoes

Any type of potato can be used in the soup, but I prefer red potatoes.  They are a bit less starchy than white or yellow potatoes and give a smoother texture to the soup, without it being too thick.  I use whatever type of onion I have on hand, but my favorite kind to use is a sweet white onion.

Recipe:  Leek Potato Soup

Makes 5 servings

 

Recipe Leek Potato Soup

Ingredients:

  • 3 slices bacon
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion (about 1 cup chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 large leek, cleaned and finely chopped into half-moons (about 2 ½ to 3 cups)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 ½ cups (900 mL) no salt added chicken broth
  • 2 medium red potatoes (about 2 cups chopped)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. In a large pot on medium heat, cook bacon until crispy. When bacon cooked, remove from pot and set aside.  Keep bacon drippings in pot.
  2. Add onion and a bit of salt to pot and sauté. If there are not enough bacon drippings in pot to keep onion from burning, add 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Cook onion for about 10 minutes, until translucent and starting to brown.  Add thyme and cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Add leek and one tablespoon olive oil to pot. Sauté leek about 5 minutes, until translucent and soft.  Add garlic and cook for an additional minute or two.
  4. Add first ½ cup of broth to pot to deglaze it. Scrape up browned bits, as they will add flavour to the soup.  Add remainder of broth, salt and potatoes to the pot, cover and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, decrease heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
  5. Remove pot from heat, uncover and let cool for 5 to 10 minutes. Use immersion blender directly in the soup pot to blend soup and create a smooth texture.
  6. Break bacon reserved from step 1 into medium size pieces and sprinkle into each bowl of soup.

Kale Soup with Bacon Recipe

kale soup with bacon recipe

Even though it’s early April, there has been a return to below freezing temperatures and even colder wind in my neck of the woods, so a pot of soup seemed like the right dish for lunch today.

Kale is a green that grows in cool temperatures, so it is abundant in grocery stores (and farmer’s markets if they are open in your area) right now and will continue to be so until late spring.

I started making this soup recipe last fall, as a way of dealing with the abundance of kale I was getting in my CSA box. We had gone apple picking and I had some lovely sweet Cortland apples, which I knew would be perfect in this soup.  The sweetness of the apples mellows the taste of the kale.  I used a Cortland apple for my soup, but any sweet apple should suit.  I wouldn’t use a tart apple like a McIntosh or a Granny Smith, as it would not soften the bitter taste kale often has the way a sweet apple does.

curly kale and Courtland apple

Adding bacon to kale is something I started doing years ago, in order to bribe Greg into eating kale. It’s true, I’m not above bribery to get him to eat vegetables.  Bacon and kale go well together.  The saltiness of the bacon complements the bitterness of the kale.  If you have bacon that has lots of fat on it, this is the dish to use it in.  Cooking the onion in the bacon drippings adds lots of rich flavour to the soup.  If your bacon is too lean and doesn’t leave enough drippings to cook the onion, add some canola oil to the pot.

I use no salt added broth as I like to control the amount of salt that goes into my dish. If you use regular or even sodium reduced broth, reduce the amount of salt in the recipe.  The bacon adds saltiness too, so not a lot of salt is needed in this soup.

I usually use my immersion blender for soups, but I found that mine isn’t able to handle the kale.  Even cooked, the kale is too tough for it, and I can’t get a smooth texture.  My regular blender does the job well, but it’s important to use caution when blending hot liquids.  Let the soup cool a bit before blending, and don’t fill the blender jar more than half way.  The heat builds up the pressure in the jar and can cause the lid to blow off.  You don’t want to get sprayed with boiling hot liquid, as that would be incredibly painful.

I like adding a dollop of sour cream into my bowl of soup just before eating it. The sour cream adds a bit more richness and creaminess to the soup, but it’s an optional ingredient.

 

Recipe – Kale Soup with Bacon makes 4 servings

recipe Kale soup with bacon

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch kale, about 9 to 10 ounces (250 to 280 g)
  • 3 slices bacon
  • 1 medium white onion, diced small
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 apple, cored and chopped
  • 3 ½ cups (900 mL) no salt added chicken broth
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoons light sour cream, optional

 

Directions:

  1. Wash kale, remove stems, and coarsely chop.
  2. Place bacon in large pot, and cook on medium heat until bacon is a bit crispy. Remove bacon from pot and set aside.
  3. Keep bacon drippings in pot, and add chopped onion to it. If there aren’t enough bacon drippings in the pot to prevent onion from burning, add canola oil. Add a bit of salt, and cook for about five minutes, until onion start to become translucent. At this point, add the thyme, and cook for another minute or two, until the onion starts to brown.
  4. Add apple to pot, and continue cooking on medium heat until apple starts to soften, about three minutes.
  5. Add chopped kale, and cook until kale wilted, about three to five minutes.
  6. Once kale is wilted, pour a small amount of the broth into the pot, and deglaze bottom of pot, scrapping up the browned bits from bottom. These will add flavour to the soup. Pour rest of broth into pot, add rest of salt, cover, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 15 minutes. In last minute of simmering, add bacon that was set aside at beginning.
  7. Take pot off heat, remove lid and let cool for at least five minutes.
  8. Transfer half of mixture into blender jar and blend on medium-high power for about 25 to 30 seconds, until soup has a smooth texture. Pour soup from jar into a large container, and then repeat with second half of mixture from the pot. Once smooth, pour into container with first half of soup, and mix together.
  9. Serve soup in bowls, add a teaspoon of sour cream if desired, and enjoy.

 

Grilling Vegetables – Lemon Dill Grilled Green Beans

Now that summer has arrived, have you moved your cooking out to the grill?  We certainly have.  Even though we are grilling several nights a week, we are still eating lots of vegetables, and not only salads.  We grill many vegetables, including these delicious lemon dill green beans.

Lemon Dill Grilled Green Beans

I love cooking on the barbecue because it helps us to keep the house cool on hot summer days, without having to turn on the air conditioning.  I also love the flavour it gives food.

Many of the vegetables that I roast in the cooler months are grilled in the hot summer.  There are a few different ways to do so.  You can use a grill basket and place your vegetables in it.  The basket method hasn’t worked out really well for me, but both of my sisters swear by them.

Another method is to place your vegetables inside a foil papillotte, which is sort of like an envelope, and place it on the grill.  The heat from the trapped steam cooks the contents when using this method.

My favorite method is placing the vegetables directly on the pre-heated grill plate, and turning down the heat of that burner.  This works well for larger vegetables that won’t fall through the grate.  Beans are big enough to use this method.

Lemon Dill Grilled Green Beans

My grate runs front to back, so I place the green beans side to side, going across the grate.  Try to spread out the beans in a single layer, so that they can roast evenly.

Although I love the flavour of grilled beans, I wanted to change these up and add something more.  I had some dill from my CSA box that was crying out to be used.  I created some lemon dill dressing to add to the warm green beans.

I can now tell you that dill and green beans go well together. These beans were a hit.  I made more the next day.

I made the dressing about an hour before dinner, to give it time to sit and for the flavours to meld together.

Grilling the green beans is quick and easy.  If you are grilling meat, the meat will take longer, so put the beans on when the meat is almost done, so they can finish cooking while the meat is resting.

I enjoy grilling vegetables because often the entire meal ends up being prepared on the barbecue.  It makes for a compact cooking space, it’s easy, and best of all, there are fewer dishes to wash.

Do you grill your vegetables? Which ones are your favorite on the grill?

 

Recipe:  Lemon Dill Grilled Green Beans – serves 4

Lemon Dill Grilled Green Beans

Ingredients

Lemon Dill Dressing

  • 2 green onions (scallions) finely chopped, white and light green parts only
  • 2 tablespoons chopped dill
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Beans

  • 1 pound (454 g) green beans, washed, trimmed and dried
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

 

Directions

  1. Prepare dressing: In small bowl, add green onions, dill, lemon juice and vinegar. Whisk together. Slowly pour in olive oil while whisking. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  2. Pace green beans in a large bowl. Add olive oil, salt and pepper and mix until oil coats beans.
  3. Pre-heat grill to 400 F
  4. Turn one burner down to low heat. Place beans on that portion of grill. Grill beans for 6 to 8 minutes, turning several times to prevent burning. It’s okay if they get some dark spots. As long as the entire bean isn’t charred, it won’t taste burnt.
  5. When beans are done, transfer them to serving dish. Add three tablespoons dressing and toss. Drizzle a bit more dressing on top of the beans and serve.

Vegetable Recipe: Roasted Asparagus with Parmesan Cheese

Roasted Asparagus with Parmesan Cheese

It is asparagus season in Ontario.  Fresh local asparagus has been making an appearance in grocery stores, at farmers markets and in CSA boxes across the province.  Several of my family members wait for asparagus season with much anticipation each year.

When a vegetable is as loved as this, sometimes the best way to prepare it is to aim for simple and allow the full flavour to shine through.  This roasted asparagus with parmesan cheese does that.

Roasting brings out the sweet flavour of the asparagus.  It also softens the spears a bit; not enough to turn them to mush, but just enough to make them easy to eat.  Roasting needs to be done on high heat; otherwise you won’t achieve the outer crispness that makes roasted vegetables so delightful.

Storing Fresh Asparagus

Fresh asparagus is best consumed within a few days.  The best way to store asparagus is to place it standing in a container with about 1” (2.5 cm) water.  Change water each day until you eat the asparagus.   This will prolong the life of your asparagus.

Roasted Asparagus with Parmesan Recipe:  Roasted Asparagus with Parmesan Cheese

Roasted Asparagus with Parmesan Cheese

Ingredients

  • Asparagus spears, about 6-7 per person
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. Place oven rack in highest or second highest position. Pre-heat oven to 425 F.
  2. Wash asparagus and pat dry. Snap woody bottom off each spear, about 1”.
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place asparagus baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Spread asparagus out in a single layer.
  4. Roast for 6 minutes. Remove from oven and flip asparagus. Roast for an additional 6 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle parmesan cheese over asparagus. Roast for an additional 1 to 2 minutes, watching so the cheese doesn’t burn.

Recipe: Sautéed Beet Greens with Pine Nuts

Do you ever get into a vegetable rut?  You want to include vegetables with dinner every night, but you find yourself reaching for the same three or four veggies, and preparing them in the same old way?

I think food ruts happen to everyone eventually, especially with vegetables.

These sautéed beet greens with pine nuts could help shake up your vegetable routine.

Sautéed Beet Green with Pine NustWhen looking at cookbooks, recipe magazines, or blogs, or when taking in all the eye-candy on Pinterest, you might not be seeing a lot of recipes focussing on vegetable side dishes.  If contemplating what to make for dinner, main dish ideas probably grab your attention.  Or maybe you are being seduced by dessert recipes.  What about vegetable recipes?  Sadly, they don’t often get a place to shine in the sun.

Vegetable side dishes usually are not complicated.  They typically only call for a handful of ingredients, and they are easy to make.  This is great, as it allows the cook to focus on other, more time-consuming or complicated portions of the meal.  Maybe this is part of the reason vegetables don’t get a lot of attention in the recipe world.  However, many of us want to eat more vegetables, but we don’t know what to do with them.

Thanks to my CSA box, I am exploring the wide world of vegetables.  I am the recipient of vegetables that don’t usually make it to my dinner table.  Some of them are unfamiliar.  Some are vegetables I usually overlook.  I am definitely not in my same old routine with vegetables right now.  I thought it would be a good idea to share vegetable side dish recipes with you over the next couple of weeks.  Hopefully they will inspire you to try something different.

These sautéed beet greens are a great place to start.

Although I discovered beets this winter, beet greens are new to me.  In the past, I have ignored the leaves of root vegetables, discarding them as kitchen waste.  My first CSA box contained a bunch of beet greens, with small, inedible beets at the ends of them.  The greens are the portion that is intended to be eaten.

Beet Greens

My bunch of beet greens. You can see how tiny the beet roots are. They really were not edible. The but leaves were large and tender.

Beet greens can be treated in the same way as Swiss chard or other dark leafy greens.  I opted to sauté mine.  Worried the beet greens would be too bitter, I discarded most of the stems, as I find the stems tend to be the most bitter part of a leafy vegetable.  The sautéed beet greens weren’t bitter at all.  Maybe it is because these are young beet greens, picked early in the season.  These are harvested for the purposed of beet greens, and the beet root portion of the crop is lost.  Later in the season, when the beets are harvested for their roots, the greens are still attached, and while perfectly edible, I don’t imagine that they are as tender as these young ones we had.

The greens will pick up the flavours of the other ingredients they are cooked with, resulting in a tasty vegetable dish.  The pine nuts add some crunch, which makes it more interesting in the mouth, and also a smooth, buttery flavour.

My bunch of beet greens was a small one.  If you have a large bunch, just double the ingredients.

Recipe:  Sautéed Beet Greens with Pine Nuts

Sautéed Beet Greens with Pine Nuts

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch beet greens
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small shallot, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup (you could use honey if you don’t have maple syrup)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon toasted pine nuts*

Directions

  1. Thoroughly wash beet greens. Pat dry using a clean tea towel.
  2. Coarsely chop greens into pieces about 1” long, discarding stems.
  3. Heat non-stick pan on medium and add olive oil.
  4. When olive oil heated, add shallot to pan and sauté, stirring often, until golden brown but not burnt, about 5 to 8 minutes.
  5. Add vinegar and maple syrup to pan, stir, and cook one minute.
  6. Add beet greens to pan and stir constantly, until greens wilted, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper.
  7. Transfer greens to serving bowl and sprinkle pine nuts over top. Serve while still warm.

* For directions on toasting pine nuts, see this roasted green bean recipe.