Bring on the basket!

I’ve discovered grill baskets!

I know, I’m a late bloomer. Until now I’ve tried either skewering veggies and meat chunks into kabobs, or seasoning and wrapping the veggies in foil. With the first method, the skewer ends up splitting the veggies or I have to fight to get them on–and it’s so time consuming! With the second method, I end up with plain old steamed veggies. How boring.

This summer, in a magazine or catalog, I saw a grill basket. Don’t ask me where I’ve been hiding all my life, but this was a revelation.

“I gotta have me one of those!” I exclaimed to George, who was only too happy to oblige. If it involves food on the grill, he’s all for it.

Veggies, seasoned and ready to go.

I debated between the shallow, two-inch pan, or the bigger 6-inch. I’m glad I chose the bigger one, because chopped veggies mound up quickly, and leftovers–if there are any–can always be reheated.

Yesterday we went to the meat market to pick up a couple pork chops, raised by local farmers and free of growth hormones or any other contaminants.

Pork chops, with garlic salt, pepper and thyme.

Then we got veggies, also from local growers. I like supporting our local ag industry, and I like the just-picked freshness of produce that hasn’t been trucked halfway across the country.

A big purple egg plant, a long speckled zucchini, an onion, and some potatoes. At home I already had our own homegrown chocolate cherry tomatoes, as well as some golden, tear-drop shaped tomatoes our neighbor shared with us. There were sweet red peppers, cut into

Grill basket, stuffed with goodies.

generous-sized pieces, in the freezer, which thaw quickly under running water. Blot them well with paper towel before using, though.

I cut everything into chunks. We like the egg plant chunks smaller than the zucchini, and then both will be tender but not mushy. The potatoes I pre-cooked a bit in the microwave because they take longer on the grill. Everything went into a bowl, and then I drizzled grape-seed oil over the top (even better for you than olive oil, if you’re cholesterol conscious), sprinkled everything with garlic salt, black pepper, and Italian seasoning,  mixed it all together and poured it into the grill basket, which was sitting on a plate to catch any excess oil.

The grill was already hot, and the chops, seasoned with pepper, garlic salt and thyme, were already cooking on one side. George set the grill basket on the other end of the grill and set the timer. Our basket was almost full of veggies, so they took about 15 to 20 minutes, with George flipping the basket every four minutes or so to be sure everything got its turn near the flame.

Ready to chow down!

The result: smokey-flavored veggies with enough charring around the edges for that extra cooked-outside flavor that is so mouth-wateringly delicious! Those and the chops made a meal I dare any restaurant to outdo.

I may have come late to the world of grill baskets, but at the rate we’re going, I’ll be caught up to the rest of you in no time.


About Monica Sawyn

I'm a retired newspaper reporter/columnist, and although I still freelance, I miss the weekly column I used to write. I still "see columns" in everyday life and need a place to put them after they're written--thus, this blog. I'm Catholic, have been a Benedictine oblate since 1977, and live with my husband and our beagle in Sturgeon Bay, Wis. When I'm not writing, I'm probably reading, sewing, taking photos or walking the dog.
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