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GOSHEN, IN -- Last week I wrote about grilling and the history of the barbecue. I often write that one of the food groups that we all need to be eating more of is the vegetable group. I don’t see or hear restaurant ads promoting vegetables, and rarely do I hear cooks talking about their favorite vegetable recipe.

Since we all need to eat more vegetables, we need to have as much excitement about preparing vegetables in tasty, eye-appealing ways as we have with our favorite desserts. I truly believe this is possible; we just have to work on this and change some thinking, and this would include using your grill.

The American vegetable marketplace has expanded dramatically in our local grocery stores. Today’s marketplace stocks a much greater variety of vegetables than consumers could have imagined just ten years ago. The new vegetable marketplace owes it breadth in part to a curiosity of other cuisines, more cultures living in America, more travel to other countries, and the fast way that food can be brought to America.

Most of our grocery stores now provide a wide assortment of Chinese vegetables, and Latin chilies in addition to more varieties of mushrooms. Depending on the time of year there are more varieties of eggplant, a much larger variety of dark green lettuces, and just more vegetables of all colors, tastes and textures for our cooking and eating enjoyment.

Farmers and growers have been aided by progressive seed companies and have taken interest in supplying markets, and restaurants with formerly hard to find vegetables. Another factor affecting the growth of the marketplace is the increased interest in healthy eating. These recent developments provide many opportunities and delights for curious cooks.

Around the world, vegetables are appreciated at all times of the day from breakfast through dessert. Ethiopians often eat a breakfast of boiled beans flavored with onions and tomatoes; the English enjoy baked or stewed tomatoes in the morning, and the American breakfast in a restaurant is not complete without fried potatoes. At the other end of the day are vegetable-based desserts, ranging from carrot cake and sweet potato pie to sugar dusted Italian squash blossom fritters.

The point to all of this writing about vegetables is that we need to prepare more of them in tasty, healthy ways so our families eat more vegetables. With the warmer weather, fire up the grill and enjoy your veggies. Here is a recipe to try from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute:

Grilled Veggie Kabobs

2 medium zucchini

2 medium yellow squash

2 red or green bell peppers, seeded

2 medium red onions

16 cherry tomatoes

8 ounces fresh mushrooms

2 medium ears sweet corn

Nonstick vegetable oil spray

Sauce:

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons mustard

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon thyme

Rinse all the vegetables.

Cut zucchini, squash, and bell peppers into 2-inch chunks. Cut red onions into wedges. Combine the cut vegetables with the tomatoes and mushrooms in a bowl.

Cut the corn into 1-inch pieces and cook in boiling water for about 10 minutes. Add the cooked corn to the other vegetables.

Mix the vinegar, mustard, garlic, and thyme for the sauce.

Toss vegetables in the sauce and thread vegetables into skewers.*

Before starting the grill, spray it with vegetable oil spray. Place the skewers on the grill over medium heat. Baste occasionally with extra sauce.

Grill 20 minutes or until tender.

*You can cook the vegetables in foil instead of using skewers. Divide the vegetables in half and wrap them in foil. Grill for about 30 minutes or until tender. If you use wooden skewers, soak them in water for 30 minutes before using.

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