Photo by Sarah Shatz
Properly browned food is a matter of sugar level, protein content, and proximity to heat. Leave steaks under a searing-hot broiler for 10 minutes and you'll be rewarded with a desirably crunchy crust. But desert the stove while you're caramelizing sugar and you'll quickly find out that not all blackened things deserve a mouth-watering euphemism. Sometimes burnt is just burnt -- just watch an episode of True Blood.
For foods that are high in sugar and low in protein, like the red onions and squash seen here, you can boost their abilities to absorb heat and delay burning with a marinade (extra flavor is a nice bonus). Coating fruits and vegetables with oil helps reduce early exposure to oxygen and adds moisture during dry cooking methods, like grilling. Or, for vegetables with hard-to-digest skins like onions and red peppers, protect them from oxygen by leaving the skin on, allowing it to char, and then removing it completely before slicing and dicing. Either way, what you'll be left with is a side dish that's flame-licked, smoky, and sweet, but not at all scorched.
For more on grilling summer vegetables, check out this post.
Tuscan Grilled Zucchini & Summer Squash by Stefano Coppola
2 zucchini, cut into 1 inch cubes
3 summer squash, cut into 1 inch cubes
5 garlic cloves, minced
4 sprigs rosemary, chopped
1/2 tablespoon crushed red chile flakes
1 sprig oregano, chopped
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
To Taste salt & pepper
sturdy skewers, soaked in hot water for an hour if wooden
2 red onions
Like this post? See the Make This Tonight post from last week: Grilled Veggie Tostadas with Fresh Salsa.