|Garden Goodies Smoked to Meaty Perfection
I’m fairly sure that our reputation with our neighbors is shaky at best, mostly due to a rather large and raucous crawfish boil that even years later still lives in memory. But, it may also have something to do with the near full-on arguments that have broken out just about every time Mr. B fires up the grill.
It may be a gender issue, but I’m staunchly opposed to smoke, as in adding various woods to the fire to infuse whatever is cooking with its essence. On the other hand, Mr. B, like most men, is looking for that complex wood smoke flavoring. Thus, he’s usually trying to hide sticks and wood chips behind his back, waiting for me to get distracted by the garden. Then, he seizes the opportunity to drop them in the flame. Should I grow wise, he shrugs his shoulders and pleads ignorance.
Over the years, there have been numerous times when I’ve rejected a meal simply because I could detect smokiness, but Mr. B has proven his patience by slowly adding small amounts of wood, and much to his pleasure, I’ve become somewhat acclimated, although definitely not a fan of smoked fare.
But, all of that changed several months ago when I was faced with an abundance of vegetables and a heatwave that made cooking inside impossible. I sent him off to the grill with a bucket of coarsely chopped vegetables and a steak. True to his nature, he couldn’t resist adding a handful of maple wood to the fire, anticipating the taste of good meat and smoke paired with a glass of wine. The dilemma, of course, was what to do with the vegetables, so he tossed them into a grill basket and let them cook while his steak sizzled away.
When he finally returned to the cool confines of the house, he immediately admitted to using a little maple wood in the fire and though I was hesitant as I reached into the basket for a sample, I tried to keep a positive demeanor. Much to my surprise, the vegetables were perfectly cooked, still slightly firm to the bite and the smoke, the smoke was a wonderful addition, giving those gorgeous garden treasures an unparalleled meatiness.
I was hooked–and now, not a week goes by when I don’t have a tub of these delectable morsels tucked into my fridge. I use them for everything from the foundation for my zucchini lasagna to the stuffing for a vegetarian enchilada, but my favorite way to eat them is warmed and topped with a sprinkling of seriously aged cheddar cheese, melted, and then stuffed into a whole wheat tortilla with a spicy pineapple salsa.
Maple Smoked Vegetables
An assortment of garden vegetables–or, whatever is in season (I used zucchini, mushrooms, red, yellow and orange peppers, and onions)
1. Toss the vegetables and a few shakes of olive oil together and toss into a grill basket.
2. Fire up the grill and add a small amount of maple wood.
3. When the fire is hot, put the grill basket on the grill and cook until tender, but still crisp.
4. Sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt