I love the flavor of grilled foods, but it is difficult to create a satisfying meal of grilled vegetables. I grew up grilling a lot of meat while using the stovetop for sides and vegetables. As I matured in vegetarianism, I missed eating grilled foods and had to adapt a lot of recipes with soy substitutes. It seemed all too simple to exchange tofu for chicken or buy some of those frozen vegan patties and put them on hamburger buns. None of it was satisfying enough, but eventually I just started to experiment by putting whatever was in season on the grill. I grilled pizzas, cakes, brussel sprouts, cabbages, okras, lettuces… it was endless.
I’ve since discovered that the easiest genre of food to grill would have to be Mexican. My two months in Mexico eating street tacos and grilled quesadillas seasoned my Mexican palate with BBQ and smoke. Besides, I once watched Bobby Flay grill some quesadillas filled with apples and cheese. I think this was the episode where I fell in love with Bobby.
I live in a warehouse that hosts two grilled turkeys at Thanksgiving, but for the remainder of the year, the grills lie fallow. This makes me kind of sad. So… I finally invited some friends over for fiery fun. We started with some grilled okra and squash in a spice rub followed by grilled watermelon salad and mushroom quesadillas with corn and peach salsa. I think I nearly converted some meat eaters to vegetarianism. Or perhaps they were just being nice.
Grilled Watermelon Salad:
1 watermelon cut into a large slabs
1/2 c. finely cubed feta
2 grilled jalapenos, chopped
julienned shiso leaves (japanese mint, you can also use regular mint)
lime olive oil (1part lime juice, 1 part olive oil)
+ Grill watermelon slabs on both sides until slightly charred. Remove from grill and cut into cubes while maintaining slab shapes. Top with lime oil combo and evenly distribute feta, shiso, jalapenos on top.
Mexican-esque Spice Rub:
1 part coriander powder
1 part garlic powder
1 part salt (you should taste the rub and salt accordingly)
1 part chili powder (cayenne if you are feeling eager)
2 parts cumin powder
Lime Sour Cream (mix well and serve):
1/2 c. sour cream
+ Coat squash and okras in oil and liberally sprinkle spice rub onto mixture. Grill and serve with Lime Sour Cream.