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Grilled Veggie Kebabs on Dirty Rice

Easy grilled vegetables make summer cooking fast and fun.

Grilled summer vegetable love. It's dead obvious I have a few passions. Color is a big one. I search for color with an appetite that rivals my hunger for fresh vegetables. And they happen to be my number two. Passion that is. At least when it comes to cooking.

Roaming farmer's markets and organic produce aisles is my idea of a good time. It's as sexy to me as a candlelit date on Saturday night. Seriously. 

I'm that easy. 


Perusing stacks of ripe and voluptuous veggies - caressing peppers in ruby, orange and yellow, inhaling bunches of basil leaves and mint between hefting gorgeous heads of violet cabbage and tender crimson tomatoes leaves me giddy with inspiration. It's hard to be anything but thankful in the presence of such abundance. I feel alive. Engaged. 

And come to think of it, simply damn lucky to be alive and breathing.

So it's no wonder my mood perks up in spring and blossoms into downright happiness come the dog days of summer. The harvest is in full swing. And I am in love again.

And the best part is: the fresher the vegetable - the simpler I cook. Who needs to fuss when flavors are robust and downright perky? Cooking in summer means kicking back, grilling outdoors, packing picnics, tossing salads and whipping up fruit smoothies. It's not really about recipes. It's more about coaxing and brightening the natural flavors just enough to serve up something fresh and fabulous.

We've been eating light and easy this month. The accents are fruity extra virgin olive oil, garlic and sweet onion. Sea salt and basil. Cilantro and mint. A dash of balsamic vinegar or tangy brown rice vinegar sprinkled over herbed rice or roasted potatoes. Since we don't have an outdoor grill (we really don't have the space for it) we've been grilling with our panini grill under the portal. It does a fair job and even leaves those nifty grill marks real chefs love so much (and so do we humble cooks!).


Grilled Vegetable Kebabs on Dirty Rice Recipe

I'm sure I've lost some serious foodie cred with a few readers admitting my unorthodox use of a panini grill, but hey. It works. The veggies are so perfectly crunchy-tender that I really don't care if you think I'm a little meshuge. I can handle it.

Here is my non-recipe:

Start with the freshest organic vegetables and cut them into thickish chunks. We used a red, green and yellow bell pepper, a third of a smallish purple cabbage, two sweet onions and four mid-size portobellos.

Toss the cut veggies into a bowl and add a dash of extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, fresh ground pepper, your favorite herbs and a drizzle of balsamic or brown rice vinegar. Add finely chopped garlic to the mix if you like- we always add garlic. Let the flavors mingle while you fire up the grill.

In the meantime make a pot of brown or basmati rice.

To make dirty rice you'll also need some:

2 tablespoons or so olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 sweet onion, diced
Sea salt and pepper, and spices: cumin, red pepper, chili powder, oregano, to taste

When the grill is hot, skewer the veggies onto wooden skewers and place them on the hot grill. Drizzle with any extra oil and vinegar mixture. If you're using a two sided grill like me, close the grill and attend to your rice. If you're using a charcoal grill, follow the manufacturer's instructions for grilling vegetables.

Check the veggies every few minutes and turn them (you want all sides to develop those sexy grill marks). The veggies should be tender but still a bit crisp. Ours cooked in about twenty minutes on the panini grill.

Meanwhile, when the rice is cooked, heat the olive oil in a skillet [an iron skillet is best for this] and toss in the chopped garlic and onion, a dash of cumin, red pepper flakes, and whatever seasoning you like. Let the onions get brown and the oil get dirty. Spoon in the cooked rice (about 2 1/2 to 3 cups) and stir to heat through. Add a cup of cooked red beans (I used Aduki beans). Heat through.

Serve the grilled vegetable skewers over a mound of dirty rice and beans. Offer extra virgin olive oil and brown rice vinegar as a condiment to drizzle over the rice.

Sit outside and drink in the sunset. Sip a glass of fresh lemonade. Be happy.

Serves four, roughly.



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