One of my favorite restaurants serves the most appealing vegetables around New York City. Buttermilk Channel, in Brooklyn, New York, is a casual neighborhood spot known for farm-to-table cooking.
Their grilled vegetable platter shows inspired simplicity in the way each vegetable is prepared to bring out its best. The presentation is a plate of six or more vegetables, every one of them perfectly balancing smoky flavor with its own particular taste, deliciously concentrated from grilling.
This is a method you can do easily at home using a charcoal grill, gas grill or a grill-pan on the stove. Here are the ways to do it with an assortment of the season's favorites. Using fresh-picked vegetables from local farms gives the most flavor.
When using an outdoor grill, be sure the clean grate is brushed with oil and use medium-high heat. Preheat a grill-pan for 5 minutes over high heat. Garnishes like finely chopped herbs, a squirt of lemon juice, drops of balsamic vinegar or some grated Parmesan cheese can be added after grilling, too.
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Asparagus - Plunge spears into boiling water for 1 minute. Blot dry with paper towels. Line up 3-4 spears like soldiers and insert a toothpick through them 1-inch below the tips. Insert another toothpick 1-inch above the bottom. Brush lightly with olive oil. Grill for 2 minutes, turn and grill 2 minutes.
Broccoli - Select spears with fat stems. Cut off the stems 2 inches below the crown, then stand spears on end and cut them vertically into 3/4-inch slices. Blanch for 1 minute. Blot dry with paper towels. Brush slices lightly with olive oil. Grill for 1 1/2 - 2 minutes on each side.
Carrots - Cut off the top and bottom of a fat, medium-large carrot. Cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices. Brush lightly with olive oil. Grill slices for 3 minutes, turn and grill for 2 more minutes.
Onions (red, yellow or sweet) - Cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices. Insert 2 toothpicks crosswise into slices to hold them together on the grill. Brush lightly with olive oil. Grill for 2 minutes on each side.
Portobello Mushrooms - Select mushrooms about 3-inches across. Discard the stems and use a small knife to pare away ragged edges. Brush lightly with olive oil. Grill the mushrooms gill side up for 2 minutes, turn and grill for 2 minutes, or until no longer raw-looking inside at the thickest point.
Sweet Peppers - Choose peppers that are as square or triangular as possible, with sides that are flat. Standing a pepper on its bottom, hold a large knife and vertically cut off each side as a slab. Brush pepper pieces lightly with olive oil. Grill for 3 minutes, turn, and grill for 2 minutes.
Zucchini Squash - Cut off the top and bottom off a fat, medium-large squash. Cut the squash lengthwise into 1/2-inch slices. Brush lightly with olive oil. Grill for 2 minutes on each side.