Meatless Monday: Grilled Vegetables

Grill up a bunch of vegetables tonight and eat like a king for the rest of the week; use the veggies to make pasta dishes, omelets, burritos, sandwiches and pizza.
By: Michelle Buffardi
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Meatless Monday is a global movement, a way of life. It’s not a campaign to turn everyone in the world vegetarian or vegan; in fact, many involved are meat-lovers. Eating less meat has been proven to reduce the risk of disease, curb obesity and has important environmental impacts, too. Will you join us in giving up meat, just for one day a week?

Grilled vegetables, like whipped cream, is one of those ideas where the recipe, complete with ingredients, is right in the name. You whip some cream. You grill some vegetables. You may not need much more instruction than that. But I think it's better to look at grilled vegetables as a strategy rather than just a recipe. If you grill some vegetables tonight, you'll have your meals set for a week.

Throw whatever you've got in the garden on the grill, brushed with a bit of olive oil -- peppers, zucchini, squash, eggplant, onions -- season with some herbs and vinegar once they're done and you have not just a meal for tonight, but the basis for several meals for the rest of the week. The key is leaving the vegetables on the hot grill long enough for them to get those fabulous grill marks, and also to make enough to last you a few days.

Once you have a big batch of grilled veggies, you can chop some up in to smaller bits and add them to omelets, frittatas or quiche for breakfast. For lunch or dinner, simply toss grilled vegetables with pasta and bocconcini, or layer the vegetables with hummus or soft cheese on ciabatta to make a better-than-any-restaurant meat-free meal. Add the grilled vegetables to greens for a hearty salad, or add some herbs and feta to make Ellie Krieger's minted vegetable salad. Top pizza with grilled vegetables, layer some into lasagna or stuff them into quesadillas or burritos. The vegetables you grilled at the start of the week can be used to make a quick meal any time of day, save for dessert (try grilling fruit for that instead).

3 yellow squash (about 1 pound total), sliced lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick rectangles

3 zucchini (about 12 ounces total), sliced lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick rectangles

3 Japanese eggplant (12 ounces total), sliced lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick rectangles

12 cremini mushrooms
1 bunch (1-pound) asparagus, trimmed
12 green onions, roots cut off
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves

Place a grill pan over medium-high heat or prepare the barbecue (medium-high heat). Brush the vegetables with 1/4 cup of the oil to coat lightly. Sprinkle the vegetables with salt and pepper. Working in batches, grill the vegetables until tender and lightly charred all over, about 8 to 10 minutes for the bell peppers; 7 minutes for the yellow squash, zucchini, eggplant, and mushrooms; 4 minutes for the asparagus and green onions. Arrange the vegetables on a platter. The key to getting those great grill marks is to not shift the vegetables too frequently once they've been placed on the hot grill.

Meanwhile, whisk the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, parsley, basil, and rosemary in a small bowl to blend. Add salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle the herb mixture over the vegetables. Serve the vegetables, warm or at room temperature.

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