Autumn on the Grill: Flavours of Fall Sizzle with Goodness

Grilled Artichokes

(Updated October 14, 2021)

There’s nothing like a market day in Autumn! A farmers’ market is a feast for the senses, where I can ogle mounds of produce, people-watch, chat, graze and nibble. I always get carried away and bring home unexpected treats and enough vegetables to sink a ship.

I appreciate the “market folk” who grow or make their wares and then get up the in the wee hours to lug them to market where they sell them with sociable pride. I like getting to know the faces and hands behind the work that went into getting my food to me. On the other side of the stall are fellow shoppers who I’ve never met, but we nod “hello” over the bagels. Farmers’ markets provide a sense of community that you don’t often get when shopping at a big box store.

Creatures of habit, market shoppers tend to stick to their routines. There are the dawn-shopping early birds, unreasonably cheery first thing in the morning. Then comes the mid-morning stroller brigade, with adorable sticky-faced kids in tow. And last of all, just as the vendors are packing up, the bedheads race in, breathlessly chanting their mantra, “omigod-I-slept-in-do-you-have-any-free-range-eggs-left?”

Regulars also have their path through the market down to a science. Eggs from this vendor, bread from that one, veggies from the guy with the dimples.

I have my own routine: First, I head for a cup of fair-trade coffee; then a fierce internal debate ensues as I pass the cinnamon-scented doughnuts. Later I pause to sniff the handmade lavender soap, all the while keeping an eye out for who has the freshest corn, the ripest tomatoes.

At last I settle down to more serious business. Did I use up the maple syrup on last Sunday’s pancakes? Do I need more garlic? (What am I thinking…I always need more garlic!) Have I got time to roast and peel peppers this week? Will he still be flaunting those handsome gourds when Thanksgiving rolls around?

I fall under the spell of the vegetable kingdom. Ideas for dishes flash through my head like meteors. Planetary melons are orbited by moons of new potatoes. Lumpy, bumpy winter squash, like Macbeth’s three witches, huddle next to a mound of zucchini, foretelling summer’s end.

But with any luck, summer weather will linger for just a bit, long enough for us to enjoy the end-of-summer bounty cooked outside on a grill. The tang of smoke, and the feel of the deck against bare feet, add a perfect ending to a day begun fondling peaches at the market. The recipes that follow present all the goodness that Ontario’s farmers’ markets have on offer, complete with grill marks.


RECIPES

This recipe comes from a delightful little book that’s big on ideas for Vegetables on the Grill, a Sunset series book, (1994, Menlo Park, CA).

For those who like to live with gusto, try this end-of-summer salad redolent with grilled garlic, with crust bread or pita to enjoy bite for bite with the salad. Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

  • 5 or 6 Japanese (long, thin) eggplants
  • 2 medium-sized red bell peppers
  • 3 large heads garlic
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley (or more, to taste)
  • Salt & pepper to taste

1) Trim stems from eggplants. Cut eggplants in half lengthwise, turn cut side down; cut each piece lengthwise into thirds. Rinse bell peppers; stem, seed and cut into strips or chunks. Set aside.

2) In a large saucepan, bring three litres of water to a boil over high heat. Add garlic, heads unpeeled, and cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Drain and cool slightly. Peel garlic.

3) Rub eggplants, bell peppers and garlic very lightly with olive oil. Place in a mesh grill or basket and grill above medium heat. Turn vegetables frequently until they are hot, tender and streaked with brown (12 to 15 minutes).

4) Remove from grill, toss gently with balsamic vinegar, and sprinkle with parsley. Add salt and pepper to taste.


This recipe comes from a delightful little book that’s big on ideas for Vegetables on the Grill, a Sunset series book, (1994, Menlo Park, CA).

A honey-soy marinade makes these tofu and vegetable skewers a grilled delight great over brown basmati rice. (Serves 4)

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 3 Tbsp tamari soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp chili oil
  • 16 medium-sized fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems removed
  • 1/2 lb Firm tofu, cut into 8 cubes
  • 2 Japanese (long, thin) eggplants, cut crosswise into 1-inch-thick slices
  • 1 large yellow bell pepper, seeded, cut into 1 1/2-inch squares
  • 8 cherry tomatoes

1) In a deep non-reactive bowl (glass), mix sesame oil, soy sauce, honey and chili oil. Add mushrooms and tofu and turn gently, to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes, turning occasionally.

2) Carefully lift mushrooms and tofu out of marinade; add eggplants, bell pepper and cherry tomatoes to marinade; turn to coat, then lift out vegetables and reserve marinade. On four sturdy metal skewers, thread eggplants, bell peppers and tomatoes alternately with the mushrooms and tofu. Place skewers on a lightly greased grill four to six inches above medium heat. Cook, turning and basting frequently with remaining marinade, until vegetables are well-browned and eggplant is tender (about 12 minutes).


Found in Grilling Indoor and Outdoor, by the ever-popular Company’s Coming series of books. (2000, Edmonton)

This recipe offers robust flavours that make you glad to be alive. (Serves 6)

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 zucchini, with peel, sliced lengthwise into 4 slices
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, quartered and seeded
  • 1 medium yellow or orange bell pepper, quartered and seeded
  • 1 medium red onion, sliced into thick slices
  • 4 roma (plum) tomatoes, halved
  • Pinch of salt
  • Fresh-ground black pepper to taste
  • 5 slices (1-inch-thick slices) multi-grain bread
  • 1/3 cup organic non-fat Italian dressing
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp basil pesto
  • 1/4 cup ripe olives, drained and coarsely chopped
  • 2/3 cup feta cheese or soy-feta, crumbled

1) Combine olive oil and garlic in a small bowl. Brush vegetables with garlic oil. Cook on greased grill for five to 12 minutes (onions take longest, tomatoes take least time to cook).

2) Brush vegetables with more oil as needed while turning several times. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Remove grilled vegetables to a cutting board as they become soft. Dice vegetables and place in a large bowl. Brush remaining garlic oil over each side of bread slices. Toast on grill until golden. Cube into one-inch pieces and set aside.

3) Combine dressing, vinegar, pesto and chopped olives in small bowl. Pour over diced vegetables. Toss to combine. Let stand for 15 minutes for flavours to meld (or cover and marinate in fridge for up to eight hours). Just before serving, bring to room temperature and toss with reserved bread cubes and cheese.


Found in Grilling Indoor and Outdoor, by the ever-popular Company’s Coming series of books. (2000, Edmonton)

These “meaty” mushrooms are delicious straight from the grill as a side dish, or sliced and rolled up in warm tortillas with all the fixings or stuffed into a baked potato. (Serves 4)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup organic salsa (mild or medium)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 4 large Portobello mushrooms
  • 1 Tbsp sunflower or olive oil

1) Combine salsa, garlic and spices in a blender. Process until smooth to make a marinade. Remove stems from mushrooms (save & use to make soup stock, if desired). Scrape and discard black “gills” from underside of mushrooms with a spoon. Pour marinade over mushrooms. Marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes, turning several times.

2) Preheat barbecue to medium-high. Remove mushrooms from marinade, reserving it to use for basting. Brush mushrooms inside and out with oil. Cook on greased grill for five to six minutes, turning and basting surface with reserved marinade, several times, until tender. Discard any remaining marinade.


This recipe, and many more ideas for grilling fruits and veggies, comes from Great Grilling, by Hungry Minds Inc. Press (2002, New York, NY)

These fragrant, spicy slices of grilled potatoes will round out any meal. (Serves 4)

Ingredients

  • 3 medium potatoes
  • 1/3 cup sunflower or olive oil or ghee
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 tsp garam masala
  • 1 large clove garlic, crushed

1) Place potatoes in enough water to cover (salted, if desired, in a large saucepan. Cover and heat to boiling. Boil about 15 minutes or until almost tender; drain. Cool slightly.

2) Brush grill rack with a little vegetable oil. Heat grill to medium. Heat oil, garlic and spices together until hot through, then remove from heat. Cut each potato lengthwise into four or five slices. Brush potatoes generously with margarine mixture.

3) Cover and grill potatoes four inches from heat about 20 minutes, turning and brushing two or three times with spiced oil mixture. Cook until golden brown and tender. Serve hot.


Cooking with Cannabis – new book:

Look for Pat Crocker’s article: Cooking with Cannabis: Strategies and Recipes, posted on Vitality’s website. The article explains: Why make your own Cannabis edibles; Why and how to infuse fats for cooking; How to determine how much THC/CBD works for you. It will also include recipes from her new book Healing Cannabis Edibles.

Pat Crocker's mission in life is to write with insight and experience, cook with playful abandon, and eat chilies with gusto. As a professional Home Economist (BAA, Ryerson U., Toronto) and Culinary Herbalist, Pat’s passion for healthy food is fused with her knowledge and love of herbs. Her wellness practice transitioned over more than four decades of growing, photographing, and writing about what she calls, the helping plants. In fact, Crocker infuses the medicinal benefits of herbs in every original recipe she develops. An award-winning author, Pat has written 23 herb/healthy cookbooks, including The Healing Herbs Cookbook,The Juicing Bible, and her latest books, Cooking with Cannabis andThe Herbalist’s Kitchen. www.patcrocker.com

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