With four select ingredients readily available throughout the year, you can make this flavorful and healthy salad anytime of the year. Perfect on its own for lunch or as a side dish to beef, pork, poultry, and fish, you’ll find your own variations to keep it unique.
Start out by gathering these ingredients:
1 lb. of smoked sugar snow peas (see our previous posting on smoking)
2 mini cucumbers, unpeeled, thinly sliced
½ pint of cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
¼ cup of fresh dill chopped (or use a quality jar dill if fresh is not available)
2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon of lemon zest
Salt & fresh ground pepper
Fresh & Savory Ingredients
Preparing The Salad:
Add the smoked snow peas to a salad bowl. Stir in the cucumbers, tomatoes, and dill. Be sure you stir gently to prevent breaking up the cucumbers and tomatoes. Stirring will allow some of the char flavor of the peas to reach the juices of the cucumber and tomato.
Preparing The Dressing:
In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, and lemon zest until smooth. You will see the dressing thicken as you whisk. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss until coated.
A Quick Whisk
I simply love this salad for a healthy lunch, snack, or as a side to dinner. Feel free to add some additional crunchy items like pumpkin seeds, dried fruits, or even tortilla shell strips. And DON’T FORGET to take a picture of your masterpiece and send along to us at SmokinLicious®.
One of my favorite herbs is garlic due to all the applications garlic has in cooking. One technique that you may not have tried is ember firing the garlic using a wood for flavor and a cast iron skillet for smoke control.
Here’s what you will need to do this technique:
A cast iron skillet – Lodge™ has a great model
Garlic purchased with the stalks on as you’ll need these for presentation and control during the cooking process
An LP/gas grill – any model or size
Ever wonder what else you could do with the cast iron skillet other than fire place cooking? Well, use it to ember roast garlic but on your LP/gas grill! That’s right. We will use the gas grill for fire proof cooking and air control without need for the LP/gas.
Place the iron skillet on the grill grates and prepare to add the wood chips. We will be using Grande Sapore® wood chips from SmokinLicious® Gourmet Wood Products. The species selected is Ash for its ability to produce hot heat level and an even bed of coals. It is one of my favorite hardwoods to use for ember cooking of vegetables because of its coal-ability and mild flavor. You will need a ¼ cube of the chips. Remember, we are developing a bed of coals for this cooking technique so unlit and lit coals will be used.
It’s time to add the wood chips to the skillet! Take the Grande Sapore® Ash wood chips and fill the cast iron skillet. Light the chips using a cooking torch or match but remember not to use any other materials for lighting the wood; no newspaper and certainly no lighter fluid which is petroleum at its best. Once the chips ignite, you need to monitor the depth as you want to end up with a 3-inch depth. That means, add wood chips as need during the buildup of the embers.
Adding the Garlic
Once we reach a depth of embers of approximately 2-3 inches in the skillet, it’s time to add the garlic by placing them on top of the hot embers.
Take the stems and twist the whole garlic so that each garlic head seats completely in the embers. Almost instantly, you will see smoke from the embers all around the outside of the garlic. This is the flavor infusion at the start. It’s now time to close the top of the grill to control the amount of airflow to the embers.
Ember Roasting Cooking Technique
Once the garlic is added to the hot embers, you will see the dry outer covering of the garlic ignite. This is the main reason why the outer covering and stems are left on the garlic heads as its sole purpose is to protect the cloves! You will see the great char coloring on the outside of the garlic. The stems will either fall off and burn or burn off during the roasting process. The entire roasting process will take 45-60 minutes depending on the overall heat level and depth of the embers.
Wood embers ignite garlic
The Break to Garlic Heaven
Now, remove the garlic heads from the pan and allow to cool before the peeling process begins. This is the heavenly part – breaking apart all the charred outer portions and revealing the tenderized, wood charred garlic cloves! Get ready! These beauties are ready to be minced, diced, added whole – just about anything you can think of to add depth of flavor you’ve never experienced before. Now, go on. You know you’re just dying to try this technique yourself!
It’s time to bring your vegetables into grilling season! Nothing beats the smell of a fresh vegetables roasting over wood even on an LP/gas grill. Any time of the year works fine for this technique to get a great char wood flavor in your seasonal or store bought fresh vegetables.
If you want to add special wood flavoring to your LP/Gas grill there are easy steps to follow:
Make sure your grill is clean from any significant grease build up. Remove the grilling grates and determine how much space is between the diffuser and the grilling grate. The diffuser is the plate covering the unit’s gas burner(s). Don’t remove the cover.
Now, let’s set up the wood on the grill. Remove the cooking grates from the grill then strategically place the wood chunks over the heat diffuser. This is the metal piece covering the actually gas burners. If the SmokinLicious®wood chunks are fresh, then you can add them directly to the unit without pre-soaking them. If not, you may want to consider a lite soaking of about 15 minutes. Because I’m cooking lettuce, I am using the chunks in their natural state. However, feel free to consider a pre-soak in liquid with flavoring such as beer, wine or juice.
Wood chunks above diffuser
Now replace the grill grates back on the unit, over theSmokinLicious®wood chunks! Make sure the grates are securely seated back on the unit. If there is a lot of space on your unit between the diffuser and the grate you may want to consider a SmokinLicious®single filet or block item. Now light the unit, set the dials to a low heat setting and bring the unit up to temperature. Say around 180 degrees. Do not overheat the unit.
Romaine Lettuce Preparation
In preparing my Romaine lettuce for this cook, I slice it vertically from stem to head creating two equal size halves. After pre-heating the grill to around 180 degrees, I place the two slices of the lettuce head directly on the grill grates. Let the wood infusion flavor begin!
“Two halves are better than one head”
I position the two halves of the Romaine over the hot spots created by the SmokinLicious®“Double” filet wood pieces which are under the grilling grates. The wood will ignite and begin the charring stage. I recommend bunching the wood pieces together to produce a hot spot on the LP/gas grill to allow for a direct char technique. While I am not using the smoke from the wood, I am still infusing great natural grilling flavor with the wood.
Hot spots are roasting aids
My cooking is taking place with an open lid because I want to char not smoke! It’s important to keep turning the heads so the flavour will be even. At about 1/3 of the time cooking on the grill, I turn the gas completely off and let the flaming wood chunks on the diffuser finish up the final cooking. In this last stage of charring, I brush my clarified butter with chopped parsley and mint baste to the lettuce halves for final flavour and presentation. And, if desired, feel free to drizzle any remaining melted butter mixture to the finish product for a little extra taste kick.
Remember this is a delicate vegetable, not meat so there is no grease to flare up the LP/gas grill. This is another example of why using SmokinLicious®wood chunks on the diffuser and under the grill grates of your LP/gas unit can generate such exceptional wood-fired flavour. Now, get to your grilled Romaine lettuce and ENJOY!