Spring time in the North East is always a bit…unpredictable! This year has been especially crazy with the constant up and down on the thermometer, but that has not put a chill into Spring fever…not today anyway! We are finally having a more April-like day today, and I am thinking about the warmer days to, hopefully, come in the next months. The change of seasons is always so exciting, especially food wise, and transitioning from Winter meal choices to warm weather food makes us all happy. One cooking tool that always comes to mind about now is the grill, and it is time to dust mine off and bring it out of hibernation! My menus have already begun to reflect the switch from slow cooked, warming winter stews and roasts to marinades, rubs and sauces for grilled meat, fish and, especially, vegetables. I am a huge fan of veggies, just ask my daughter! It always gets my creative juices flowing when I start to see really good produce in the grocery store and the farms and markets begin to open for business. One of my favorite spring menu items so far this season is grilling spring vegetables and then hitting them with some good aromatics. The usual grilled veggie dish uses later summer vegetables, which is also fantastic, but try using the seasons early plantings on the grill…this recipe uses some usual, and not so usual, suspects!
Grilled Spring Vegetables w/ Lemon and Herbs
1 bunch (or 1pound bag) spring carrots
2-4 leeks (depends on size)
1 large fennel bulb
1 bunch asparagus, larger size stalks for grilling
2 portabella mushrooms
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper to season for grilling
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon Fresh chopped herbs (mint, parsley, basil, tarragon, thyme, rosemary…whatever you like! I like mint for spring!)
Heat the grill to medium hot.
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
While the grill is heating up, prep the veggies:
-Peel the carrots, trim the ends and cut in half the long way.
-Trim the leeks of most of green top and a small amount of the root end, so it holds together at the end. Slice in half the long way and run under cold water to wash any sand from between the layers.
-trim the top off the fennel and a small bit of the root end. Cut the bulb in half the one way and then into wedges.
-Snap the ends off the asparagus
-Take the stem from the mushrooms and give them a wipe with a wet paper towel to get any dirt.
Put all the veggies into a large bowl and toss with the olive oil, salt and pepper. The mushrooms may need a tad more oil as they tend to soak it up. When all the vegetables are coated with oil and seasoning, lay them on the grill, starting with the carrots. These will need to go into the oven to finish cooking once they have been grilled, so once they are marked on each side and slightly soft, put them in a roasting pan and then the oven to finish cooking through. Will take 15-30 minutes depending on size of the carrots. Grill the rest of the vegetables on each side until they are cooked through and nicely marked.
Platter the vegetables and sprinkle with lemon zest and herbs and serve.