Jul 14 2010

Indoor Grilling

Published by at 12:35 pm under Dinner

My complaints about not having an outdoor area to grill in have been well-documented on this site, and I guess my generous dad took note! He sent me a very cool product, the Sanyo Electric Indoor Barbeque Grill, so I can fire up some meat and veggies in my little one-bedroom.

The grill doesn’t get super hot, so it does take a little while for everything to cook — namely tough vegetables like onion and bell pepper. But the upside of that, as my assistant pointed out, is that you have a little more control over how “done” the food gets.

For my first grilling experiment, I knew I wanted plenty of vegetables. Nothing says summer to me like squash and zucchini with deep grill marks, probably because my parents ate them almost every night when I was growing up (I passed on the veggies and ate crescent rolls instead, naturally).

I was inspired by a recipe I saw in Bon App├ętit for a grilled vegetable salad, so I put my own twist on their idea, adding fresh basil and a little cumin to my dressing. I also blackened a couple of tilapia filets to go on top of the bed of veggies, and the result is definitely something I’ll be coming back to this summer: a healthy and wholly seasonal plate of yummy flavors.

I’d recommend making the dressing early on and letting it sit while you grill the vegetables and fish, because it’s best when the garlic and basil infuse in the olive oil.

Oh, and the blackening powder was completely the brainchild of my assistant. He intends to market it someday, so attribution is necessary.

Blackened Tilapia with Grilled Vegetable Salad

For Grilled Vegetable Salad (Serves 4):

5 tbsp. olive oil, divided

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup packed, chopped fresh basil

Juice of 1.5 lemons

2 tsp. cumin

1/2 tsp. honey

2 yellow squash

2 gold zucchini

2 zucchini

2 baby eggplant

2 bell pepper (whatever color you choose)

1 white onion

Salt and pepper

Combine 3 tbsp. olive oil with next five ingredients (garlic through honey) in a small bowl. Mix well, and set aside.

Slice squash, zucchini, eggplant, bell pepper and onion into thin strips or squares for grilling — the shape doesn’t matter, as long as the vegetable is relatively flat and large enough to rest on the grill. In a large bowl, toss veggies with 2 tbsp. olive oil and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Grill until you get some nice, dark marks on each piece (about 7 minutes each side on this grill, but others will cook faster). Once they’re cooked, slice the vegetables into smaller, bite-size pieces.

Drizzle dressing over vegetables and toss well.

Blackened Tilapia (Serves 4):

4 filets fresh tilapia

Olive oil for brushing

4 tbsp. blackening powder, plus more for sprinkling (see recipe below)

Brush fish with olive oil, then cover generously with blackening powder. Grill for 5 minutes, flip, and cook for another 4 minutes on the other side — again, that’s with the special indoor grill, so be prepared for the tilapia to cook much faster on a hotter one. Two minutes each side would be a safe bet.

Blackening Powder (Makes about 1/2 cup):

2 tsp. onion powder

2 tsp. garlic powder

2 tsp. paprika

2 tsp. black pepper

2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. sugar

1 tsp. dried thyme

1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

Mix all ingredients together.

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