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Eat Your Veggies
August 1st, 2014
Peggy Fiandaca

Our friend Chef Charlene Badman who performs magic each night at a charming restaurant in downtown Scottsdale called FnB plays tribute to the freshest vegetables and ingredients. She is like the horse-whisperer of vegetables pulling flavors from produce that are so memorable.

Currently on the menu are enticing treats like spicy grilled broccoli with tangerine aioli and pistachios or a salad of beets, strawberries, wheat berries, yoghurt, and vadouvan (which I had to look up – an Indian spice mix with a French twist). As soon as leeks are in season, the line starts behind me to enjoy her sensual, creamed leeks that will make you swoon.


 Eat your veggies!

So how did I go from loathing vegetables of my childhood to singing the praises of vegetable goddesses like Chef Badman? It is easy when Arizona grows the most wonderful fruits and vegetables year-round. August is an incredible time of year because the sweet corn, tomatoes, beans, and peppers are at the peak of deliciousness. How can that be when it is over 100 degrees in the Phoenix area? The altitude in southeastern Arizona is the key and the farms near the vineyard are bursting with incredible bounty.

There are some great spots like Apple Annie’s Orchard where you can pick your own produce. On a recent visit we got the juiciest peaches ever. They were the “stand over the kitchen sink” kind of good. Also, incredible is The Farm Box (or community supported agriculture – CSA) services from certified organic Sunizona Family Farms. Absolutely amazing.

Here are five tips for grilling the freshest vegetables of summertime.

 Grilling Veggies

1. Know your vegetables. Some are more dense (e.g. potatoes) than others (e.g. tomatoes) and require different temperatures and time on the grill. You might put the potatoes on first or even par-boil them before you put the slices on to the grill. Move them off direct heat once they get some grill color.

2. Oil and season generously. Toss your vegetables with olive oil or other cooking oil and season generously with your favorite spices before putting them on the grill.

3. Try a marinade. Vegetables can act like little sponges soaking up incredible flavors. Like tip #1 be careful how long you put some of the vegetables in the marinade as acids can quickly break down the tissues and make the veggies mushy. Sometimes less is more.

4. Prep properly. You don’t want to dice onions and then try to grill them. A round vegetable like an onion does best cut into rounds so it has more surface area with the grill creating more caramelized grilled flavors. Use skewers or grill baskets for vegetables that might be too difficult to manage on the grill grates.

5. Don’t over-grill. People have a tendency to over-cook their vegetables. Don’t ruin your fresh bounty by charring them beyond recognition. Watch over them while on the grill and move them around to ensure that they are still crisp and al dente.

Links to the establishments mentioned:
FnB Restaurant - http://fnbrestaurant.com

Apple Annie’s Orchard - http://www.appleannies.com
Sunizona Family Farms - http://www.sunizonafamilyfarms.com