Friday, May 30, 2014
Broiled Vegetable Skewers
When summer arrives I get grill envy. As I've mentioned before, I don't have a grill. Well, that's not exactly true. I have access to a grill...3,000 miles away at my mother's beach house.
As an urban apartment dweller, I have to find other ways to get smoke into my food. Thankfully, I discover new ones all the time. Liquid smoke works great for sauces and marinades, smoked salt is good for imparting subtle smoke flavor and smoked cheeses, such as gouda or mozzarella is wonderful with pastas and in salads.
But my favorite way to "smoke" just about anything is to add smoked paprika. Smoked paprika is typically the Spanish variety, pimentón, and usually not at all spicy, so feel free to use it liberally.
Smoked paprika gives these simple vegetable skewers a nice hit of smoky flavor--almost enough to fool you into thinking they were grilled outdoors instead of under an oven broiler. I mixed the paprika into a glaze with a touch of honey to add sweetness and lime juice to provide just enough tartness for balance.
In arranging the vegetables on the skewers, I tried to pair vegetables that would cook similarly, rather than mixing them all up. That way, if the tomatoes or mushrooms were done sooner, I could remove them while allowing the cauliflower and zucchini to cook a little longer. As it turned out, I cooked them all for the same amount of time, although I arranged the tomatoes and mushrooms on the edges of my baking sheet so they would have the least direct heat.
Although they were all good, my favorites were the cherry tomatoes, which turn warm and liquified inside, and the cauliflower, which soaks up the glaze nicely.
Broiled Vegetable Skewers
Makes 8 skewers, enough for two people
Equipment: 8 wooden or metal skewers, cooling rack designed to fit in a baking sheet and, you guessed it, a baking sheet
1/2 head of cauliflower, cut into florets about 1 1/2 inches wide
1 yellow onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 zucchini, cut into 1-inch pieces
8 white or cremini mushrooms, stems cut off
6 cherry tomatoes
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Seasoned salt, to taste
Juice of 2 limes (about 1/4 cup)
1 tbsp. honey
2 tsp. smoked paprika
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1. Soak the wooden skewers in water for about 15 minutes.
2. Preheat oven broiler with rack about 6 inches from broiler (in my oven, this is the second highest position).
3. Thread the vegetables onto skewers by grouping like vegetables together, such as: 1) thread the tomatoes on one skewer, 2) thread the mushrooms on another skewer, 3) thread the cauliflower on two skewers, and 4) mix up the onion, bell pepper and zucchini and thread them on the remaining four skewers.
4. Set the cooling rack inside the baking sheet and add about 1/4 cup water to the baking sheet (this keeps oil from splattering as it drips off the vegetables). Arrange the skewers on the rack. Brush the vegetables with olive oil and season with seasoned salt.
5. Broil the skewers for 5 minutes, rotate and broil another 5 minutes, repeating until the vegetables are brown around the edges, about 20-22 minutes total.
6. While the vegetables broil, combine the lime juice, honey and smoked paprika in a small bowl. Remove the baking sheet and skewers from the oven and brush the vegetables with the lime-honey glaze. Return to the oven and broil another 2 minutes. Remove from oven, flip the skewers and brush the remaining glaze on the vegetables. Broil for another 2 minutes. Remove from oven and serve on a platter.