Charred Vegetables are the Best Vegetables

– by Jakob Anderson –

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A lot of my recipes include charring vegetables in one way or another. Not to be confused with burning, charred vegetables are taken just past the point of caramelization to give them a smokey, bitter, umami like flavour. During the summer months, I try to use charred vegetables in almost every way possible. From using them in dips, purees, salads and main courses–charred vegetables are a staple in my summer lineup. Experimentation is also very important when taking vegetables to these lengths. You will find your sweet spots and the tipping points in many vegetables. For example, an onion is absolutely delicious when  charred correctly, but it definitely has a limit to how far it can char. Placing a whole cabbage on the barbecue is amazing if you have the time to let the outside char as the inside becomes sweet and gooey—but don’t shy away from throwing smaller chunks on there to get crispy in minutes. “That looks burnt,” is a phrase I love to hearing people say when I pull vegetables off the barbecue, because they are not aware of what is to come! Here are three of my favourite charred vegetable recipes.

Charred Cabbage with Mustard, Apple, Rosemary Vinaigrette

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Charred cabbage is amazing on its own or with a dressing.

I would eat charred cabbage all by itself, it needs no companion in my mind. For the sake of the recipe, I have included a nice vinaigrette, but if you can accomplish the extra crispy exterior with a gooey melted flesh…you might not want it!

1 head of green cabbage, halved

2 tbsp dijon mustard

1 apple, seeded and finely diced

2 sprigs rosemary, finely diced

2 tsp apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Honey, optional

Heat bbq on high. Place cabbage face down on grill. Cook for about 30 minutes, turning every so often. The outside will be totally black but the inside should be soft and sweet. Once finished, let cabbage cool slightly and then cut into large pieces. For vinaigrette, add dijon, apple, rosemary, apple cider vinegar, oil, salt and pepper to bowl. Mix to combine. Pour vinaigrette over chopped cabbage.

Charred Fennel and Orange Vinaigrette

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Charred fennel makes a wonderful companion to seafood.

This will go great with a seared piece of fish (I highly recommend lake trout).

1 bulb of fennel, quartered

1 onion, quartered

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

1/4 cup olive oil

Fennel fronds, optional

Toasted fennel seed, optional

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat bbq on high heat and add fennel and onion. Char all sides of the vegetables until they begin to blacken, roughly 15 minutes (the onions will take a little bit less). Once vegetables are finished cooking, remove from bbq and allow to cool. Chop the fennel and onions into a small dice. Place vegetables, garlic, olive oil, orange juice, salt and pepper in a bowl and mix until combined. Stir in fronds and seeds if using.

Charred Broccoli with Balsamic Vinegar and Garlic

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Charring broccoli will make you fall in love with the vegetable all over again.

I grew up on this stuff. This recipe was a staple at my cottage during the summer months, and will undoubtedly become one of yours too. Charred broccoli is quite the tasting experience, as the tiny seedlings get perfectly bitter and crisp as you cook it.

2 heads of broccoli, separated into florets

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

4 cloves garlic, finely minced

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine olive oil and balsamic vinegar in a bowl. Pour half of the mixture over the broccoli. Heat bbq to high heat. Place florets on bbq until they begin to blacken, turning constantly (you will have to play with the time, it is approximately 12 minutes). Once finished toss broccoli in garlic, salt, pepper, and other half of balsamic mixture.

Jakob Anderson is a trained cook and food enthusiast who approaches cooking as something that connects people in ways they don’t realize. “I love talking about food, eating food, thinking food, discussing food, debating food, think about debating food, fooding food? I love food.”

You can follow Jakob on Twitter @jakobanderson and Q-Avenue @QuincyAvenue

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