Monday, August 16, 2010

Vegetable Kabobs

I have to admit that I made this dish over a week ago while J was still in town. I do eat a lot myself, but not this much! After all the salads, I figured it was time to get back to a dinner food again, and in keeping with my "If I eat as though it is summer maybe it will feel like it is summer " strategy, I thought something from the grill was fitting. This is one of my absolute favorite dishes to grill, particularly because you can really use anything in the world that you want on kabobs. The other great thing about these is that you can bring them anywhere. I've brought them to friends houses for barbecues and I've brought them in my pack backpacking. They are versatile, delicious and and excuse to use the Baby-Q!

I have to take a moment now to express my love for the Baby-Q. First of all, there's the name; Obviously I was destined to love this thing...but I won't dwell on my obsessions with all things baby-sized (that is except actual babies). Back before we got married, when we first moved to San Francisco, I saw the Baby-Q on Amazon, where we had our wedding registry, and I instantly decided that we needed it. I grew up eating grilled food all the time and ever since I'd left home I had wanted a grill. It was pretty much out of the question in New York, and I didn't really stay in Charleston long enough to set up a home; This was the perfect time! Nevermind that we didn't have a yard or a patio, we had a small area on the back steps of our apartment building that leads down to the trash cans and I thought that was sufficient for my needs so long as the grill was small- hence the Baby-Q. It's amazing! Small yet powerful, portable and easy to use. Unfortunately, J did not share my opinion and he adamantly argued that I should not add it to the registry. "What," he asked "would vegans need a grill for?" Needless to say, a few months after we got married, he broke down and I went ahead and bought the Baby-Q anyway. And of course, quite to my delight, he has had to eat his words (literally haha) over and over as I lovingly prepare one delicious grilled dish after another. It is not often in relationships that one person can truly declare victory in a disagreement, but this is one of those times. I was right!

For these kabobs, you can really use any vegetables you want which makes it a great way to clean out the fridge of random vegetables you have around. If I plan in advance, my mix usually includes mushrooms, red peppers, red onions, zucchini or yellow squash, snap peas and sometimes baked tofu and/or pre-boiled potatoes. I love using that baked tofu they sell in the stores now because it's easy, firm and soaks up the marinade just the right amount. Cut each block into 9 squares and simply add to the rest of the mix. When I use potatoes, I use small red, yukon gold, or purple potatoes. Chop them in half or quarters and boil until tender, but not done. They will cook the rest of the way on the grill. I omitted the potatoes this time because J requested a pilaf and I didn't think I needed both.

The obvious key to good veggie kabobs is the marinade. I have amassed a number of good marinades over the past couple of years, but this one is still my favorite. I have no idea where it came from, but it's so easy to remember that I never even wrote it down. It's the simplest recipe in the world and it works on anything. I dare you to find something (savory mind you) that doesn't taste good marinated in this sauce. Especially try it on portobello mushrooms for the best grilled portobellos on the planet. So, the night before you want to grill, cut up your vegetables and whisk together equal parts:
soy sauce
balsamic vinegar
olive oil
Then add:
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1-2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
black pepper to taste

Pour over the vegetables and refrigerate for as close to 24 hours as you can. Then thread onto wooden skewers, grill until done and enjoy! In a pinch, you can also cook the vegetables in the broiler of your oven (believe me I have done this when the propane runs out mid-grill). When we take these camping, we just pack the whole mess including the marinade in double ziplock bags, then wrap them in foil packets and throw them in the coals of the fire. There is nothing better in the world than a big plate of this stuff with couscous after hiking all day. A great side-benefit of eating vegan is that you don't have to worry about the dinner food spoiling while you hike! I've posted one picture here from a recent camping dinner. I hope you do try this recipe and experiment using this marinade on anything you can think of. My mother called me a few weeks ago asking what I thought she should do in order to grill a regular block of tofu and I recommended this marinade for that as well. All reports say that it was a runaway success. I'm telling you, it's impossible to go wrong with this recipe. Enjoy!

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