Fresh vegetables and a hot grill go hand in hand in the summer. As the garden pumps out produce and outside temperatures climb to roasting, I happily stand over a grill for a few minutes to cook the day’s harvest. Many vegetables – and some fruits – can be grilled whole or in large chunks, simply tossed with a little oil. When I feel more ambitious, I cut them into pieces, toss them in a marinade and slide them onto skewers.
When I was a kid, I toasted over a campfire just about anything I could throw at a stick. Maybe that’s why I’m always drawn to kebabs. But they’re also convenient: it’s easier to turn small pieces when chained together for even charring. At home, I load long metal skewers passed down from my father. Single-use bamboo skewers may suffice when camping or cruising, but you need to balance between thick sticks, which might split a raw mushroom rather than puncture it, and thin sticks, which can char and scorch. break unless soaked.
From there, the choices are yours. Our skewers last week included onions, peppers, zucchini and potatoes (which grill best when parboiled first), plus mushrooms, pineapple and lemon which I can’t grow . Since I harvest tart cherries but wait for the cherry tomatoes to ripen, I also speared the pitted fruit.
This marinade can also be used on shrimp, chicken, and other meats, but I recommend building separate meat and vegetable skewers to ensure thorough cooking. Boil the extra meat marinade for a few minutes before using it as a sauce.
Vegetable skewers with garlic marinade
For 4 to 6 people as a main dish, 8 to 10 as a side dish
4 pounds of fresh vegetables, such as onion, bell pepper, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, and stewed fingerling potatoes
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon sugar (optional)
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
3 tablespoons sunflower or canola oil
Cut large vegetables into 1-inch pieces; leave small vegetables like whole cherry tomatoes. Place the vegetables in a large bowl and toss gently to combine.
In a small food processor or bowl, combine the garlic, tomato paste, sugar, pepper, vinegar and soy sauce. Process in a food processor or whisk by hand until smooth. Slowly pour in the oil, stirring until it is emulsified. Stir the marinade into the vegetables, cover loosely and let sit for at least an hour.
If you are using thin bamboo skewers, immerse them in warm water for at least 20 minutes. Thread vegetable mixture onto skewers, leaving room at each end to turn; strain the rest of the marinade and set aside. Place the skewers on a hot grill and cook for about 5 minutes, until lightly charred, before flipping and cooking for another 5 minutes; work in batches as needed. Spread the grilled skewers in a large dish and serve immediately. Offer reserved marinade as a dip or to pour over accompanying cereal or greens.