So what will you serve for dinner at your house during the hot August days of the Dormition Fast? Fasting in summer heat is quite different than fasting during the snowy advent season or the late winter and early spring season of the Great Fast. Then we can enjoy soups and casseroles which warm up the whole house, as well as our hearts and tummies. But this time of year, as I mentioned in an earlier post, we tend to enjoy cool salads and outdoor meals which can be prepared on the backyard grill. But what can you grill if you aren't preparing meat? Let me show you!
Grilled Vegetable Kabobs
Remember the oil free dressings I told you about? These make wonderful marinades for vegetables like whole mushrooms, large diced peppers, onions, cherry tomatoes, summer squash or eggplant. After an hour or so in the dressing they can be put on skewers and roasted, then served on a bed of couscous which can be easily and quickly prepared in the microwave and there you have it...a cool house AND a wonderful, fast-friendly meal!
Grilled Romaine Salad
Another little gem I found (pun intended) is a grilled Romaine Salad. Did you know that there's a variety of romaine called "little gem"? See what I did there?...anyway...
The first time I had it was at a local restaurant where they served it sliced lengthwise with olive oil and reduced balsamic vinegar and stuffed with blue cheese, but that's an adventure for another day. For today (a fast-day)I just split a head of romaine in half, season with salt, pepper, and some granulated garlic. Toss it onto the hot grill for literally less than a minute, only to ever-so-slightly char and wilt the outer leaves, no oil necessary. Once it's removed from the grill I drizzle that balsamic reduction (just pour about half a cup vinegar into a saucepan and boil to reduce the volume by half...or until you can drag your spoon through it and it leaves a trail behind it...think: parting of the Red Sea) or some Balsamic Glaze (from Trader Joe's) over the salad and serve it with some grilled cherry tomatoes. Its great when its served with a giant portobello steak, marinated and grilled just like the veggies for the kabobs I mentioned, but using a giant mushroom cap. I also like to grill some slices of good bread then drag a split clove of garlic over the top for flavor and serve it with the Mushroom Steak and Grilled Salad. Its a great meal. Oh!...and if you happen to have any leftover balsamic reduction, dip some fresh strawberries into it and enjoy! Its a great after-dinner "not-dessert".
A third great meal you can make on the grill is a clambake! Take a piece of aluminum foil per person, either double the foil, or use heavy duty foil, and place your ingredients into it, fold it into a packet and grill for about 20-30 minutes until done.
Ingredients are as follows; amounts may vary according to your taste:
raw kale, spinach, or chard, as a bed for the other ingredients
sliced raw onion
raw sweet corn, cut into 2" wheels
potato, scrubbed and diced (medium-large)
6-8 clams per packet, scrubbed (optional, as desired; shrimp works well too)
2 tbsp vegetable stock or water
2 slices of fresh lemon per packet
1 bay leaf per packet
1/2 tsp. of Old Bay Seasoning per packet
salt and pepper to taste
fresh parsley, basil, other favorite herbs
Seal up your foil packets and place them on your hot grill for about 20-30 minutes. You can feel the packets to see when the clams are opened.
Great Fast Burgers
Last, but not least I have a great recipe for some great...really great... Great-Fast Veggie Burgers! These are wonderful and quick to prepare, but the best thing about them is that they can be made ahead and refrigerated, or even frozen, until you need them! Someone comes in the door and needs a quick sandwich, just pop one in the toaster oven, air-fryer, or skillet and there it is!
2 cups vegetables, diced small ( So…we honestly use anything leftover from the night before but if we had our perfect way we’d use a mixture of onion, peppers, mushrooms, carrot, celery, and red cabbage…colorful too!)
2 cans small red beans. Drained and rinsed (in a pinch, any beans are fine)
2 cups rolled oats
2 cups water
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
2 Tsp Braggs liquid aminos, tamari, or soy sauce
2 dashes Worcestershire
2 dashes liquid smoke (optional)
2 tsp oregano
Salt, pepper, and any other favorite spices, to taste
In a large pot over medium heat, saute the vegetables, adding tablespoons of water as needed to prevent sticking, until they are softened and just lightly browned. Add the beans, then the oats, stirring to combine. Next, add the rest of the ingredients and continue to cook over medium heat until the mixture becomes very thick and pulls away from the sides of the pan, just like really thick oatmeal. Remove from heat. Scoop balls of the mixture into a ring mold, (tip: a wide mouth canning jar ring works perfectly for this!) placed on a parchment-lined baking sheet and press with the back of a spoon to form burger patties about ½ inch thick. Alternatively, you can scoop the mixture onto the parchment and use the back of a drinking glass, dipped in water, to press the burgers flat. These can be left to set up for up to an hour before baking, refrigerated overnight, or frozen at this stage. Bake the burgers at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, then flip, and bake for an additional five minutes. My husband was thrilled when he discovered that these burgers also worked so well on the grill! They hold together well and are an ease to flip, unlike a lot of veggie burger patties out there.
Pair this with a grilled romaine salad and a skewer of mixed, marinated veggies and you've got yourself a wonderful summer supper, and a cool house too!
Another great thing about my Great, Great-Fast Burgers is that once you have the basic recipe down you can play with it a bit by changing up the veggies, beans, and spices to come up with endless varieties! Those of you on the mailing list will be getting a pdf copy of my burger recipe, complete with all seven variations. Let me know if you create any more by commenting below so we can all try them!