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Introducing My Newest Book: How to Grill Vegetables

No, I haven’t gone over to the dark side. Let me state clearly: I’m not nor will ever be a vegetarian or vegan.

Nonetheless, I’ve just published my latest book (#32 if you’re counting) and the title is—gasp—How to Grill Vegetables.

Of course, this shouldn’t come as a surprise if you’ve read my past books, like The Barbecue! Bible and Project Smoke or watched my Project Fire and Project Smoke TV shows on PBS.

If you have, you know that I have always loved the sweet, smoky flavor live fire imparts to vegetables and have long believed that grilling is the best way to cook those diverse members of the plant kingdom, from artichokes to zucchini, by way of mangoes and pineapples.

That explains the numerous grilled fruit and vegetable recipes in my TV shows and grill books. Hell, I even managed to sneak some salads and vegetable side dishes into The Brisket Chronicles!

Why Did I Write How to Grill Vegetables?

But my reasons for writing How to Grill Vegetables are even more personal. My daughter and several cousins are full-on vegetarians. My wife has strong (dare I say alarming) vegetarian leanings. So call it self-defense.

And although I remain a devoted carnivore, I find I crave grilled vegetables more and more—with my favorite grilled meats and even on their own.

There are other reasons I wrote the book:

  • Plant foods are good for you. And good for the planet.
  • Plant foods are affordable—much more so, generally, than high-priced meats and seafood.
  • Plant foods are versatile, offering an incredible range of colors, textures, and flavors.
  • Plant foods are heaven-sent for grilling—the high dry heat of the fire caramelizes the natural plant sugars—making grilled vegetables sweeter and smokier than their boiled or baked counterparts.
  • Above all, grilled vegetables and fruits taste great, which is why, when you think of it, someone would write a cookbook and hope that other people will buy it.

What Will You Find in How to Grill Vegetables

So what will you find in the new book? Wood-grilled bruschetta with fire-blistered tomatoes and ricotta. Smoked guacamole. Ember-roasted sweet potatoes. Grilled Caesar salad. More than 125 recipes covering the vegetables we grill already, like peppers, mushrooms, and corn. And vegetables most of us would never think of grilling, like parsnips and okra.

As in all my books, I focus on technique. How to smoke-roast a head of cauliflower, for example, or char a winter squash. How to ember-roast green beans, hay-smoke lettuce, plank-grill Eggplant Parmigiana, and spit-roast brussels sprouts on the stalk. Expect the unexpected, from a Smoke-Roasted German-Style Potato Salad to a Grilled Wedge Salad with Smoky Ranch Dressing, from Elote Quesadillas with Grilled Corn, Poblanos, and Pepper Jack Cheese to Nashville Hot Cauliflower, from Grilled Vegetable Paella to Ember-Grilled Barbecued Onions, a Double-Grilled Summer Vegetable Frittata and Hasselback Apples Grilled on Cedar Planks.

Mechoui Cauliflower and Grilled Corn in How to Grill Vegetables

And for my carnivorous friends, rest assured: this is a vegetable forward cookbook, NOT a vegetarian book. When I started writing a book, I made a vow that if meat or seafood would make a vegetable dish taste better, then meat or seafood it would have. Case in point, my serrano ham-wrapped padron pepper poppers, pepperoni stuffed zucchini braciola, and grilled asparagus with bagna cauda (creamy anchovy dip).

Of course, you’ll find a chapter on grilled breads and pizzas. And a chapter on grilled eggs (really), cheese, and tofu.

I also cover the nuts and bolts of grilling plant foods, including:

  • The differences between grilling meats and vegetables: for example, vegetables have less fat and absorb smoke differently, and the grill doesn’t need to be oiled when using shiny-skinned vegetables like eggplants and peppers
  • The best gear for grilling vegetables, from grill woks to planchas to metal skewers
  • The best methods for cooking various types of vegetables—direct grilling works best for high-moisture vegetables such as asparagus and zucchini; tender vegetables, like eggplants and mushrooms; small vegetables, such as okra and snow peas; and tofu, bread, and cheese, while indirect grilling is best for large or dense vegetables like rutabagas and beets
  • Vegetable-specific grilling techniques, from hay-smoking to smoke-roasting and much more
  • The optimal temperature for grilling vegetables: a low temperature is best for onions, cabbages, and other large round vegetables, medium-high for firm green vegetables, like broccoli and artichokes, and high for high-moisture vegetables, like zucchini and tomatoes.

Thumb through the pages of How to Grill Vegetables and you’ll find a dizzying array of colors, textures, and flavors, from Caveman Corn to Grilled Leeks with Ash Vinaigrette; the Portobello Chivito (Uruguayan Grilled Veggie, Cheese, and Egg Sandwich); Smoke-Roasted Parsnips with Crispy Capers; Brussels Sprout, Bacon, and Date Kebabs; Grilled Portobellos with Eggs, Crispy Ham, and Golden Raisin Chimichurri; Fire-Seared Polenta with Mushroom Mixed Grill; and The Ultimate Smoked Baked Beans.

Eggplant Parmigiana and Grilled Artichokes in How to Grill Vegetables

Whether you’re a carnivore looking for electrifying, creative new recipes, or a vegetarian looking to up your grill game, this book has you covered.

Check it out and let me know what you think!

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