A good vegetarian grilled main with the works is a rarity or a sham in most restaurants. Agree that a grill is normally or best associated with meats but why ignore the growing population of vegetarians ? In most cases what you end up getting is some grilled cottage cheese with hardly any marination or a veg cutlet/patty or a mixed veg shashlik or just sauteed mixed veggies with some herbed rice.
So I decided to whip up a yummy vegetarian grill with the works at home for my wife n daughter who are pure vegetarians. Chose two among their favorite proteins to grill, cottage cheese (or paneer) and chunky meaty portabello mushrooms. You can also replace the cottage cheese with tofu if you like it. Decided to pair it with, 1) a classic smooth potato, garlic, thyme and leek mash 2) a zingy white onion, garlic and pepper sauce and finally 3) some sauteed and crunchy greens on the side. Yeah…No rice or bread as I wanted them to enjoy it as it is without having to reach out for those un-necessary filler carbs 🙂
Ok, So here goes the recipe for my classic vegetarian grilled plate. Since there are many components, It is important to sequence and pace yourself carefully to avoid confusion or cold/flat components. I sequenced it as follows,
1) Marinate the Cottage Cheese and Mushrooms. This has to be done at least 2-4 hrs prior.
2) Make the Sauce and keep it warm in a hot water bath.
3) Boil the potatoes and make the mash and cover with a foil to keep it warm.
4) Start grilling. This may take around 20 minutes and needs to be turned over once in between.
5) While it’s grilling make the sauteed veggies
6) Plate it !
Ingredients and Steps (Serves 4)
Cottage Cheese (Paneer) : About 200-250 gms chunk cut into 4 half inch thick slabs
Portabello Mushrooms : 4 large ones, cleaned, stalks removed and wiped dry
1. For marinade, (this is my version with a Pan Asian twist…you can change it as per your liking or choice)
Mix/Whisk together 2 tablespoons of EVOO, 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, 1 teaspoon of thai red curry paste, 1 tablespoon of sriracha or sweet chili sauce, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, juice of half a lemon, a dash of sugar in a small bowl.
2. Gently scour the Cottage Cheese and top of mushrooms using a knife.
3. Rub the marinade nicely on the mushrooms and cottage cheese, cover it with a cling film and let it rest for a few hrs.
For the sauce,
Butter : 2 tablespoons
White Onion : 1 Medium sized, diced small.
Garlic : 4-5 cloves, mashed and minced
Crushed pepper : 1 tablespoon
Milk : 1 cup
Plain flour to thicken the sauce : 1 tablespoon mixed in half a glass of water
Water from the boiled potatoes : about half a cup
Parsley (Dry) : 1 teaspoon
Salt : to taste
1. Heat a pan, add the butter, saute the garlic and onions with a pinch of salt and crushed pepper until translucent. 2. Add the potato starch water, milk and parsley and let it simmer for a couple of minutes. Adjust salt at this stage. 3. 3. Finally add the flour mixed with water and stir it in until the sauce thickens.
4. Take off the heat and keep warm. You can also add some button mushrooms while suateeing the onions and garlic for an extra flavor.
For the mash,
Potatoes – 4-5 large potatoes, cleaned, skin peeled and cut into 1 cm pieces
Garlic – 4-5 cloves, peeled and minced
Leeks – 2 stalks. cut off the leafy top and the bottom root portions. Cut thinly across.
Butter – 2 tablespoons
Olive Oil – 1 tablespoon
Salt – to taste
Thyme dried or fresh – 1 teaspoon
Milk – 1 cup
1. Boil the potatoes until soft, drain out the water (remember to keep aside the water for the sauce).
2. Heat a pan, add the olive oil and butter. Saute the garlic and then add the leek, thyme and pinch of salt.
3. Saute the leek on low heat for about 10 min until it feels soft (Pls note that leeks should not become brown or dry. salt helps sweating and keeps it moist)
4. Turn off the heat. Mash the potatoes using a ricer or mash it with your hands and add to the pan. Please ensure that there are no lumps.
5. Turn on the heat, mix the mash well with the leek, add half of the milk and adjust the salt.
6. Add remaining milk in to maintain a smooth pasty consistency.
7. Turn off the heat, cover with a foil and keep aside.
8. If you like it, you can add a dash of lime juice as well and mix it well for a hint of acidity. This is entirely optional so do it only if you like a hint of acidity in your mash.
1. You can use an oven or an open flame grill for grilling the cottage cheese and portabellos.
2. Grilling time needs to be adjusted based on the grilling appliance used.
3. I used a microwave oven with a grill function and grilled on each side for about 10 min each.
For the sauteed veggies,
Asparagus – 4-5 stalks, cleaned and cut into halves.
Broccoli – 6-8 florets, cleaned
Baby corn – 4-5, cleaned and cut into halves lengthwise
Zucchini – A finger long piece cut lengthwise into sticks
Olive Oil – 1 tablespoon
Butter – 1 tablespoon
Salt – To taste
Garlic – 2 cloves, smashed and minced
parsley dried or fresh – 1-2 teaspoons
Heat a pan, add the oil and butter to it and saute garlic, veggies with salt and parsley for 4-5 minutes. Turn off the heat and keep aside.
Plating and presentation : You can do it as you please. Mash on the side or Mash as the bed topped with a cottage cheese and portabello, sauce drizzled over and sauteed veggies on the side.