Try grilling vegetables for Memorial Day

May 26, 2010|By CHRIS COPLEY
  • Veggies on the grill: Corn on the cob, foil-wrapped sweet potato slices and eggplants sliced like fans cook over a hot fire in a kettle-style grill in a Hagerstown backyard.
By Chris Copley,

I'm not exactly an outdoor-party animal, but I've been to my share of backyard grilling parties. My friends are an eclectic bunch, so I'm always interested in what's on the fire.

I've seen plenty of hot dogs, burgers and bratwursts, even veggie burgers. I've seen ears of corn and the occasional red sweet pepper.

But most grilling I've seen is centered on meat. And with the summer grilling season kicking off this weekend, I'm exploring vegetables and side dishes prepared right on the grill or with grilling involved.

So I put my thinking cap on. I asked around. And I found a few people in downtown Hagerstown who grill.

Andrew Kipe, executive director for the Maryland Symphony Orchestra in downtown Hagerstown:

"Grilling is about easy."

Kipe said his partner, a chef, does the cooking in the kitchen, but Kipe cooks on the grill. He has a full-size, regular Weber. He cooks over charcoal.


He's cooked salmon, chicken and pork loin. His grill is large enough that he can heap hot coals on both ends and place slow-cooking meat in the middle, so the drippings don't cause flare-ups.

But Kipe also cooks vegetables and other side dishes on the grill.

"I do bruschetta - grill the toast, roast the tomatoes on a pan on the grill so they don't stick."

And when the meal is over, the ease of grilling continues.

"The best part about grilling is you don't have to do the dishes when you're done," Kipe said.

Bernest Griffin, resident of downtown Hagerstown

"I like to grill green peppers, red bell peppers and asparagus, but you have to grill them fast so you retain nutrients. Bring out the sweetness."

Griffin is the cook in his household. His fiancee, Veeda Bassette, owns and operates Tranquility's Sacred Flower Garden, a New Age gift shop in downtown Hagerstown. The couple live in two stories above the shop on South Potomac Street.

Veeda doesn't eat red meat, so Bernest has a long repertoire of vegetable dishes he prepares, mostly in the kitchen. But once in a while, Griffin takes a small hibachi to the alley behind his building and cooks dinner.

"I don't do much grilling. But when I do, I make sure I have some olive oil nearby to keep things from drying out."

He said he adds flavor with liquid smoke, Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce.

David Layton, co-owner of DatAchieve Digital, a print and interactive media design firm in downtown Hagerstown:

"Grilling introduced my son to the suburban lifestyle."

Layton's son, Andrew, was a Boy Scout reached the rank of Eagle Scout. He was a straight arrow with a crew cut. He thrived in structured situations.

Then he moved out to California, met a girl and settled in San Francisco. He explored the more relaxed lifestyle of the West Coast.

When David and his wife, Norma Kolson, had to go out of town for a week, he asked Andrew and his girlfriend to house-sit in Hagerstown. The Californians came East. They fed the dogs, mowed the grass and enjoyed the leafy backyard.

When David and Norma returned, Andrew told his father he liked the yard, the grilling, the dogs, the whole suburban lifestyle. In fact, he wanted to make a change.

So Andrew cut his hair and joined the Marines. And all, said David Layton with a wink, because of grilling.

Bruschetta with grilled tomatoes

1 loaf unsliced Italian bread
1/2 cup good-quality olive oil
4 large ripe tomatoes (see cook's note)
Fresh basil leaves
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Italian seasoning and pepper, to taste

Cut the bread into slices and brush both sides with a good quality olive oil.

Cut tomatoes into thick slices and brush with olive oil.

Over a medium grill, place sliced tomatoes on a pan on the grill. Don't use a grill that is too hot, and be careful not to overcook.

At the same time, toast one side of the bread slices. When tomato slices are roasted on both sides, turn the bread over to toast the second side, and place the roasted tomatoes on the bread.

Place one or two leaves of whole or sliced basil on the tomatoes. Sprinkle on the basil a small amount of mozzarella cheese, Italian seasoning and pepper to taste. Continue to grill until the bread is toasted and the cheese is melted.

Serve immediately.

Variation: Spread some roasted garlic on the bread before adding the tomato and basil.

Cook's note: Kipe suggests beefsteak tomatoes, and he uses a fish tray when roasting tomatoes on the grill.

- Courtesy of Andrew Kipe, executive director of the Maryland Symphony Orchestra

David Layton's grilled pears

2 firm pears, halved, stemmed and cored (see cook's note)
2 cups arugula or baby spinach
4 ounces brie cheese
4 tablespoons almond slivers
1 cup red wine reduction (recipe follows)

Heat the grill to medium-hot.

Place pears cut side down on the grill and cook for 3 minutes. Turn over and cook for 2 minutes. Divide the brie into quarters; place 1/4 in cored portion of each pear. Cover grill and cook briefly until cheese begins to melt.

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