Bittman Grills


One disadvantage of living in Manhattan is trying to take the subway on Sunday. (I’m writing this on a Monday, so the memory is fresh.) Another is the inability to grill. Aside from getting ready for the Mini grill-taping this year, and actually doing it, I haven’t had much opportunity. 

So when it was my turn to cook dinner at the reunion I was at last week in Florida, I kind of went nuts. We bought two kinds of sausage and some rib-eye, which I “marinated” with rosemary. Oh, and a few ribs, on which I rubbed some ill-defined spice mixture Daniel Meyer brought back from his Africa trip.  

But that was easy, and not especially interesting. Good, but not especially interesting.  

Interesting were rediscovering two things I already knew: One, vegetables like to be grilled on low heat. And two, parsley pesto is every bit as good as “real” pesto.

The first thing I did was cook a mass of white and green asparagus, with nothing, and finished them with salt and lemon. Very nice.  

Then I slowly grilled halved new potatoes (I had half-cooked them in the microwave first), radicchio (halved), zucchini and summer squash (halved), and eggplant (cut into planks, as you see. All of these I grilled over low heat; they browned nicely, and never threatened to burn. They became super-tender on the inside. (For this lesson, I’m indebted to Gary Danko, who set me straight while we were taping “Bittman Takes on America’s Chefs.”) 

When you think you have basil, but don’t, and discover that you have parsley – that’s not a bad thing. (This works with cilantro, too, but out of every group of ten people there is at least one cilantro hater, so that wasn’t going to happen.) You dump the parsley in a blender … well, here, I have a recipe, though I suspect I used more olive oil last week, because I wanted it kind of thin, and I know I used way more garlic:  

Parsley “Pesto,” or Parsley Puree

Makes about 1 cup

Time: 10 minutes

[From How to Cook Everything] 

2 cups parsley leaves (thin stems are okay), washed and dried


1/2 clove or more garlic

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, or more

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar or lemon juice 

1. Combine the parsley with a pinch of salt, garlic, and about half the oil in a food processor or blender. 

2. Process, stopping to scrape down the sides of the container if necessary, and adding the rest of the oil gradually. Add the vinegar, then a little more oil or some water if you prefer a thinner mixture. Taste and adjust seasoning, then serve or cover and refrigerate for up to a couple of days.


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