Thursday, May 7, 2009

Gastronomy: Elevated Grilling

I’m always searching for a creative twist on grilling. Since we cook outside so frequently, thinking beyond burgers, chicken, and steak is a proposal that is wildly embraced by my family and a welcome relief to their collective palates.

Browsing through my old Gourmet magazines, I found the perfect elevated grilling idea: Ziti with Grilled Gazpacho Sauce and Sausage. Based on the classic Spanish soup, this broth-less version is a modern marriage of warm grilled vegetables, robustly flavorful sauce, and sweet Italian sausage. With a few adjustments to the original, this simple grill-based pasta dish has managed to replace one of our many, standard meat meals to become a grilling family favorite.

10 T olive oil, divided
2 t salt, divided
2 t pepper, divided
1 medium onion
1.5 pints cherry tomatoes
3 bell peppers, orange, yellow, or red
4 medium zucchini
5 garlic cloves
½ c fresh, flat-leaf parsley, divided
½ c fresh basil, divided
3 T red wine vinegar
½ t sugar
6-8 sweet Italian sausages
1 lb ziti
½ c French feta or shaved Parmigiano Reggiano

Stir salt and pepper into 5 T olive oil. Peel and quarter onion; separately thread onion pieces and tomatoes on metal or pre-soaked wooden skewers; set aside. Trim bottoms and tops off of bell peppers; half peppers length-wise and remove seeds. Trim and halve zucchinis, length-wise. Peel garlic cloves. Brush prepared vegetables and garlic with the seasoned olive oil mixture. Place oiled garlic on a double layer of foil and wrap tightly, twisting to seal.

Prepare grill for direct-heat cooking, medium, high heat. Grill vegetables and garlic covered, turning occasionally:

· Tomatoes, 3-5 minutes, or until slightly wilted
· Bell peppers, 8-10 minutes, or until skin is blackened in spots
· Onions and zucchini, 8-10 minutes, or until tender
· Garlic, 8-10 minutes, or until softened and caramelized in spots.

Transfer as cooked to covered platter.

Peel peppers. Divide tomatoes, bell peppers, and zucchini in half. In a food processor or blender, transfer half of the grilled tomatoes, 3 bell pepper halves, 4 zucchini halves, the entire onion, all of the garlic, 1 t salt, 1 t pepper, remaining olive oil, vinegar, sugar, ¼ c basil, and ¼ c parsley; puree until as smooth as possible, adding additional olive oil, if necessary.

Chop remaining peppers and zucchini; combine with the remaining tomatoes. Continue to keep vegetables warm on covered platter; set aside.

Grill sausages, 12-15 minutes, or until browned and cooked through.

While sausages are grilling, cook ziti, according to directions, until al dente; drain. Add sauce and grilled vegetables to warm pasta. Sprinkle with remaining herbs and cheese; serve with sausages.

Makes 6 servings.

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About Mod City Mom

After becoming mothers, sisters Sarah Romine and Leah Weyandt wanted to marry the activities and interests that they experienced before motherhood with their new found lives with children. This was not always an easy task—traveling to obscure places, shopping at off-beat boutiques, and sipping lazy-afternoon cocktails doesn't always fit neatly with parenthood. Stemming from their frustration, they meticulously searched, and continue to search, for activities, establishments, and entertainment that they take pleasure in and their families benefit from. The result? Mod City Mom.

About Sarah

Sarah is a passionate cook, fashionista, writer, actor, and mother. Like all actors, she ended up working at many-a-restaurant to make ends meet and shopping at countless bargain boutiques to maintain her sense of personal style. Her culinary journey, love affair with fashion, and desire to remain true to herself after becoming a mother are the inspirations for this site. Sarah lives with her husband and two sons in Chicago.

About Leah

A polymath wannabe, Leah loves books, films, music, cooking, and travel. After co-starting a writing and editing shop in 2002, Leah has spent her spare time frequenting her favorite cities, hangouts, and haunts. Her obsession with finding the new, innovative, and quirky is the impetus behind this site. Leah lives with her two sons and husband in North San Diego County.
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