Do you get giddy, like I do, when your eyes lock in on a big, colorful platter of grilled veggies, fresh from the garden or local farmer's market? Is your happiness magnified, like mine is, when you note there's also a vibrant, tasty dip included, made from just-picked herbs from the backyard? Well then, welcome to this plate of summer's fresh garden bounty. These Miso-Butter Grilled Veggies with Basil-Mint Pesto glorify this wonderful season and make the perfect appetizer or side dish for any summer gathering!
Grilling is a surefire way for our whole family to get their proper intake of vegetables. Perfectly caramelized and wrapped in smoky goodness, they are hard to resist. This is one of the biggest benefits of our warmer weather months, when our grilling increases to a nearly every day occurrence, thanks to my husband's devotion to grilling. Blake has found his calling out there on our shaded backyard deck, and has made fast friends with his two Webers (one gas, one charcoal) and a Big Green Egg. When I ran this miso-butter grilled veggies idea past him, Blake was all in.
For more awesome summer grilling, be sure to check out our favorite grilling recipes!
You can always find unsalted Land O Lakes® Butter in our fridge. Always. I love its pure, sweet cream flavor, and I highly recommend having at least one box of Land O Lakes® Unsalted Butter in Half Sticks available at all times. So many recipes call for a half stick of butter, and Land O'Lakes makes it ultra convenient to grab just one pre-measured half stick. These smaller, individually wrapped portions are wonderful for easy kitchen prep, and also ensure that each package is at its freshest.
This recipe calls for a whole bunch of fresh summer vegetables, plus a flavor-filled combination of one Land O Lakes® Unsalted Butter Half Stick and a bit of miso paste.
What is miso paste, you ask? Well it's only one of the hottest ingredients out there right now. I've been seeing it more and more on restaurant menus over the past year, so I picked some up awhile ago to play with. It had been ages since I first tried a lovely miso soup, and I knew it was time to get reacquainted with this traditional Japanese seasoning.
Our girls weren't too excited to learn that miso is actually fermented soybean paste. I agree, that doesn't sound nearly as enticing. But once I told them that soy sauce, one of their favorite Asian condiments, is actually the liquid pressed from fermented soybean paste, their concerns were calmed. A little bit, at least. They were still skeptical.
I needed to provide more education. More alluring facts:
I told Hatti and Tessa about the wonderful flavors of umami, or savory taste, that these two fermented soybean products contain. Then I asked them to envision these fresh flavorful vegetables wrapped in umami's qualities: savory, salty, earthy, meaty, sweet, and just a bit fruity. And their doubting minds were encouraged. They were now curious to try these new grilled veggies. Especially when I promised that there would be a fresh herb dip! :)
Last year I planted more basil than usual. And it produced better than normal. That left me with a ton of fresh basil, and I'm happy to report that I wasted not one little leaf of it. We found new ways to incorporate it into so many of our meals, plus we made a whole lot of fresh pesto. It was an awesome way to clean out my random assortment of half-used bags of nuts. But the biggest bonus was freezing ice cube trays filled with the wonderful green stuff, and then placing the frozen pesto cubes in a freezer bag to use all winter long, as it’s excellent for a quick and flavorful meal.
I added some mint to my basil pesto this time and quickly learned that I'll do it again. It's wonderful. And if you also grow mint, you'll know what a crazy garden plant it is. It grows and spreads so prolifically that some call it a pest. I'd never go so far as to say that, as I've learned how to manage it. And our family simply adores it too much to get rid of it. We love to add mint tosalads, and toice water,lemonades and teas. This basil-mint pesto was meant to be in our life.
If you're wondering what our girls thought of these miso-butter grilled vegetables, I can tell you that, without a doubt, they loved this platter. As I finished photographing the final dish, and made the "all clear, you can now come in the kitchen because Mom is done taking pictures" announcement, they clamored to the vibrant platter of veggies, all too excited to grab their first piece. Hatti honed in on the portabellas, while Tessa and I took turns nabbing Blake's perfectly charred asparagus spears and slices of sweet peppers. With a squeeze of fresh lemon and a dip into that magnificent pesto, our whole family declared that these vegetables were "awesome!"
Miso-Butter Grilled Veggies with Basil-Mint Pesto
Prep time: 30 minutes
Grill time: 10 minutes
For the basil-mint pesto:
· 1 cup tightly packed fresh basil leaves
· 12 large fresh mint leaves (or more, to taste)
· 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
· 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
· 2 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
· 4 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
· 2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
· 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
For the miso-butter grilled veggies:
· 1 Half Stick (1/4 cup) Land O Lakes® Unsalted Butter
· 1/4 cup brown rice miso paste (found in the dairy section, near the yogurt)
· 2 tablespoon honey
· 2 tablespoon rice vinegar
· 1 pound asparagus spears, tough ends removed
· 8 ounces large portabella mushrooms, sliced 1/2" thick
· 1 large red onion, sliced into 1/2" rounds, rings left intact
· 2 large red bell peppers, sliced into 1/2" rounds
· 2 large orange bell peppers, sliced into 1/2" rounds
· 2 yellow zucchini or summer squash, sliced diagonally into 1/2" rounds
· 2 green zucchini, sliced diagonally into 1/2" rounds
· freshly ground black pepper
· fresh lemon wedges
· 1 tablespoon toasted pine nuts
For the basil-mint pesto:
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until thoroughly chopped and combined. Adjust salt to taste. Refrigerate until ready to serve with grilled vegetables.
For the miso-butter grilled veggies:
Heat grill to high (about 520°F), but first, make sure grates are scrubbed clean and then oiled. To oil the grates, add some canola oil or olive oil to a small bowl. Then fold a heavy paper towel a few times to make a smaller square. With a tongs, grasp the folded paper towel and dip it into the oil until the paper towel is drenched. Then run the paper towel over the grates, repeating until all grill grates are thoroughly oiled.
In a medium microwave-safe bowl, gently melt the butter. Let cool just a bit before adding miso, honey, and vinegar. Whisk to fully incorporate.
Place prepared veggies on a large rimmed baking pan. If you want to serve the vegetables grouped on a platter as shown in the photos, it helps to keep them grouped according to variety on the pan, and on and off the grill. Drizzle miso-butter mixture over veggies and gently incorporate it evenly throughout the veggies. It works best to just use your hands.
If making the full recipe, this amounts to a lot of vegetables to grill. It works best to grill them in two or three batches, depending on the size of your grill. Place vegetables on grill grates in a single layer and then immediately turn heat down to medium high (about 475°F) and grill for about 4 minutes, until you have nice char marks from the grates. Flip vegetables and grill for about 6 more minutes, or until vegetables are nicely softened and beautifully charred on the second side. The first side does not take as long because the grill is hotter, giving you a quicker char. Remove vegetables to a clean pan or platter. Continue grilling the remaining vegetables, if grilling in batches.
To serve a big platter of vegetables, place a small bowl filled with the basil-mint pesto in the middle of the platter. Then group vegetables around the bowl. This platter is best served when vegetables are still warm, when they still have some crispy char from the grilling. Place a few wedges of lemon in with the vegetables for squeezing over the top, and sprinkle vegetables with freshly cracked black pepper and pine nuts.
A Farmgirl’s Dabbles has partnered with Land O'Lakes for an exclusive endorsement of Land O Lakes® Butter for their Kitchen Conversations blogger program. This blog post is sponsored by Land O'Lakes.