The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

May 2, 2012

It’s grilling time but don’t forget the sides

Karen Freeman

TARBORO — When you think of grilling, what is the first thing that pops into your head? A big juicy steak? Shrimp? That’s what most of us think about when we think about the backyard grill. However, that is only part of the meal. If the protein that you cook isn’t accompanied by great side dishes, the meal is still missing a key component. Here are some great side dish recipes that may even out shine that steak!

The first is an eggplant salad. I must admit that eggplant isn’t my favorite dish. But, when it’s cooked on the grill, it changes the taste completely. If you can find white eggplant, it’s even better.

The second recipe is corn. We have been grilling corn forever. But, what makes this one special is the queso fesco and the lime-tarragon butter. You will love that. You may want to clip and keep this recipe just for the sauce!

The third recipe is a mix of grilled veggies with a terrific walnut dressing. I love walnut dressings. They are great on salads or on veggies. This one uses toasted walnuts and it a great flavor.

The fourth side dish is broccoli. I don’t really like broccoli. I rarely eat it. I even go so far as to pick it out of dishes. But, again, like the eggplant, cooking it on the grill completely changes it and makes it delicious. When you buy broccoli for this dish, you want long stems. That makes it hold together better and the stems taste good when they are grilled.

The last recipe is potatoes and onions. Saying that should be enough of a description! Yummo, as Rachel Ray would say. To this one, you add blue cheese and bacon. This one will become a favorite!

Grilled Eggplant Salad

2 (1lb) eggplants, sliced lengthwise 1/2 inch thick

1 large jalapeño

Vegetable oil, for brushing


1/4 cup chopped cilantro

3 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1 garlic clove, minced

5 medium tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch dice

1 small red onion, thinly sliced into rings

2 tablespoons chopped walnuts

Grilled flatbread, for serving

Light a grill. Brush the eggplant slices and the jalapeño all over with oil and season with salt. Grill the eggplant over moderate heat until nicely charred and tender, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer the eggplant to a work surface and let cool. Grill the jalapeño, turning, until charred and almost tender, about 4 minutes. Peel and seed the jalapeño, then finely chop it. Cut the eggplant into 1/2-inch dice.

In a large bowl, combine the cilantro, vinegar and garlic. Add the eggplant, jalapeño, tomatoes and onion, season with salt and toss. Garnish with the walnuts and serve with grilled flatbread.

The salad can stand at room temperature for up to 1 hour.

Grilled Corn with Queso Fresco a

nd Lime-Tarragon Butter

6 ears of corn, unhusked

1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon finely chopped tarragon

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons chile powder

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 pound queso fresco or mild feta, finely crumbled

Soak the corn in a large bowl of water for 1 hour.

Light the grill. On a large plate, blend the butter with the lime juice and tarragon and season with salt and pepper. Spread the butter in a 1/3-inch-thick layer in the center of the plate. In a small bowl, mix the chile powder and cinnamon. Grill the corn over moderately high heat, turning often, until the husks are evenly charred all over, about 25 minutes.

Carefully peel back the corn husks but leave them attached to the cobs. Discard the corn silk and use the husks as a handle. Roll the corn in the softened butter, top with a thick layer of crumbled cheese and sprinkle with the chile powder mixture. Serve right away.

The lime-tarragon butter can be refrigerated overnight. Bring to room temperature before using.

Grilled Veggies with Walnut Dressing

2 zucchini, sliced diagonally 1/3 inch thick

1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, stemmed

1/2 pound thick asparagus, peeled

1 red onion, sliced 1/3 inch thick

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 cup walnuts

1 small shallot, very finely chopped

1 teaspoon thyme leaves

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Light a grill. Brush the zucchini, mushrooms, asparagus and onion with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the vegetables over high heat, turning occasionally, until lightly charred in spots and tender, 15 to 18 minutes. Transfer the grilled vegetables to a serving platter.

Meanwhile, spread the walnuts in a pie plate and toast for about 12 minutes, until fragrant. Let cool completely.

Transfer the toasted walnuts to a food processor. Add the shallot, thyme, lemon juice, lemon zest and the 1/2 cup of olive oil and pulse until the nuts are coarsely chopped. Season the dressing with salt and pepper and drizzle over the grilled vegetables. Serve.

Grilled Broccoli with Ginger Sauce

3 pounds broccoli, ends trimmed

1/4 cup water

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sugar

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger

1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar

1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil

1/2 cup vegetable oil, plus more for brushing


Purple basil, for garnish (optional)

Light a grill. Bring a medium pot of water fitted with a steamer insert to a boil. Cut the heads of broccoli lengthwise into quarters, leaving the florets attached to the long stem. Peel the stems. Steam the broccoli until bright green, about 5 minutes. Transfer the broccoli to a large bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Grill the broccoli over high heat, turning, until lightly charred all over, about 5 minutes. Transfer the broccoli to a platter and drizzle with some of the dressing. Serve the remaining dressing on the side.

In a heatproof glass bowl, combine the water and sugar and microwave at high power for 10 seconds, until the sugar is dissolved. Add the grated ginger, vinegar, sesame oil and the 1/2 cup of vegetable oil and season with salt.

Spoon the ginger sauce over the broccoli. Garnish with the purple basil (if using) and serve at once.

Make Ahead The ginger sauce can be made up to 6 hours ahead and kept at room temperature.

Grilled Potato and Onion Salad

with Blue Cheese and Bacon

1 pound sliced meaty bacon

3 red onions, sliced 1/2 inch thick

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 1/2 pounds small new potatoes (about 1 1/2 inches in diameter), scrubbed

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 pound blue cheese, such as Gorgonzola, Roquefort or Maytag Blue, crumbled

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spread the bacon slices in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake until they are brown and crisp, about 15 minutes. Transfer the bacon slices to paper towel—lined plates to drain. Crumble into 1/2-inch pieces.

Light a grill. In a large bowl, toss the red onion slices with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Grill the onions over moderately high heat, turning once, until lightly charred and tender, about 5 minutes. Cut the grilled onions into 1/2-inch pieces.

In a large pot of salted cold water, bring the potatoes to a boil. Simmer until they are beginning to get tender, about 5 minutes. Drain the potatoes and cut them in half. In a large bowl, toss the potatoes with the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the potatoes over moderately high heat, turning once, until they are tender and browned, about 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, mix the mayonnaise with the blue cheese. Add the bacon, onions and potatoes and toss to coat. Transfer the salad to a clean bowl and serve.

Did You Know?

Grilling Fruits and Vegetables

Grilling Fruits

Caution: Many fruits contain a high level of water. This water content will make the fruit extremely hot when grilling. If you do not allow the fruit to cool slightly after removing it from the grill, the fruit may cause serious burns to the mouth.

Fruit Grilling Tips:

Fruits are best grilled when the coals have begun to die out or when placed on the outer edges of the grate, using more of an indirect type of heat.

If placing fruit directly on the grill rack, cut the fruit into pieces that are large enough so they do not fall through the grates.

Fruits can be grilled with skins on. Softer fruits benefit from leaving their skins on in that it helps maintain their shape and holds them together as they are being grilled.

Brushing fruit with melted butter or favorite oil during grilling will help to keep the fruit from sticking to the grill grate. Spraying a non-stick cooking spray on the grate before heating grill also keeps foods from sticking.

Use skewers or a grill basket to prevent small chunks of fruit and soft fruit from falling through the grate. If you choose to use skewers, 2 skewers will help prevent fruits from spinning while the cook is turning them on the grill. Remember to soak bamboo skewers for 30 minutes or more before using to prevent them from burning on the grill.

To enhance the flavor of the fruit, try brushing cut fruits with melted butter and sprinkling with sugar, cinnamon, brown sugar, or lemon juice while grilling. Sugar tends to burn so it is best to apply it toward the end of cooking time.