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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Grilled Locavore Vegetables...

At first glance, these grilled vegetables that I served as a side dish on Memorial Day don’t appear to be to overtly extraordinary. Sure—they taste delicious. The charred, yet caramely flavor of the seared zucchini, the sweet-tangy pop of the roasted tomatoes, the earthy-fresh flavor of the fresh chopped herbs, and then the bright tang of the fresh lemon. It’s really a remarkable balance of flavors. And from such simple ingredients. And that is the point really—a few things, all at their best, make a very great dish.

But the extraordinary part about this dish is that it is a true locavore’s dream. Locavore has become a bit of a trendy thing, I know. However it’s really just a return to the true way things were always done. Once upon a time, a person only had lemons for 2 months out the year, and then only if they lived in a place that grew lemons!
Now, I didn’t set out for this dish to be locavore, but that is the other point I will get to in a minute. As I begin to think about the components of this dish, one-by-one…I realized, the zucchini—came from my local farmershare, the tomatoes—from my aunt and uncle’s bush a few block’s away, the lemons—from my neighbor across the street, the herbs—from my own backyard, and the olive oil from a local olive mill here in town. I stepped back for a moment and realized that through simple, small changes over time, my food began to evolve in such a way that without even trying to, it became local, fresher, organic, and sourced from places other than a grocery store! And that would be my oher said point. By making small changes, we can transform the way we eat, and our relationship with food and nutrition.

I know some would debate me, but I’m pretty sure a lemon from my neighbors tree, plucked moments before its use, clean and fresh—with no chemicals or waxes on its skin, is far better for us than a lemon picked green, then ripened artificially, shipped for a week, waxed and massed transported to a grocery shelf.

• Grow some herbs

• Get to know your neighbors (and their trees)

• Find a local farmer and buy a few veggies

Pick one of these and start small. Over time, other things will evolve themselves into each other and you will find it easier and easier to transform. You may even find a dish like this on your table one evening and think hmmm….this is easier than I thought.

How its done:
This ‘grilling’ happens in a skillet on the stove over high heat.
  • 4-5 medium zucchini or summer squash, cut into thick slices
  • 1 cup of cherry tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup fresh chopped herbs, any variety. I used basil, mint, oregano, rosemary, sage, and thyme.
  • Juice of one large lemon
  • Few tbs olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
This will probably take two or more batches to cook all vegetables, repeat steps for each batch.
In a large skillet over high heat, place a tbs or so of olive oil. Place the zucchini in the pan. Sprinkle with some salt and pepper. Add about half the tomatoes. Let the zucchini brown on each side, flipping when one side is browned. Remove browned zucchini and roasted tomatoes from pan and place on a platter. Sprinkle with some of the fresh herbs, and while hot, juice some lemon juice over the veggies. Repeat, stacking the grilled veggies on the platter.

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