Grilling with OneTable
It’s Amanda here, the OneTable DMV Hazon JOFEE fellow, and I’m excited to share all about our recent Nosh:pitality event focused on outdoor cooking and seasonal food.
Two weeks ago, we met at Cultivate the City’s rooftop garden center in Northeast DC to celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut and Lag B’Omer. Cooking outside over the grill is my personal favorite part of summer. It feels to me like we’re connecting back to our ancestral roots, and fire brings out flavors in a way no other cooking method can. If you haven’t added it to your queue yet, I highly recommend Michael Pollan’s Netflix show, Cooked. The first episode is all about fire, and he explores how fire shaped human gastronomy over the course of centuries.
Our Grill Masters + OneTable hosts, Greg Herring and Eric Braese, began by discussing different types of charcoal and ways of getting it lit. Their preferred charcoal is a hardwood lump, which is basically just charred firewood, because it imparts good flavors and is the most natural option. Their preferred fire starter is Fatwood, also a completely natural option. While the grill heated, we got out the cutting boards and diced fresh tomatoes and cucumbers to make Michael Solomonov’s classic Israeli Salad recipe.
While we chopped and sipped on some drinks, Greg and Eric put the fresh zucchini, mushrooms, and asparagus on the grill. Grilling vegetables dry (that’s right- wash and then dry your produce prior to grilling) gives a greater range of flavors without burnt oil flavors or dangerous flare-ups from oil dripping into the coals. Plus, the olive oil added after the grilling process retains all of the beautiful flavor of the oil, especially if you’re using high quality EVOO.
We split the zucchini lengthwise to char and caramelize the exposed “meat”. Then, we diced them, distributing the charred bits among the salad evenly. In addition to olive oil and lemon juice, we topped this salad with a balsamic glaze. Pro tip: if you have an aged balsamic on hand, it will elevate your salad to epic levels.
GRILLED ZUCCHINI SALAD
2 small or 1 large zucchini split lengthwise
1 bunch asparagus
2 portobello mushroom caps, stems removed
1 small bunch fresh mint, picked and rough chopped
2 TBSP olive oil
2 TSP lemon juice
1.5 TSP balsamic glaze
- Place zucchini cut side down on grill until well charred (10-15 min) turn once to finish 1-2 minutes on rounded side
- Place mushroom caps round side down until water pools in the cap (8-10 min)
- Place asparagus across grill grates – they won’t take long (1-2 min)
- Chop Zucchini and mushrooms into ½ inch dice, cut off 2-3 inches off the ends of asparagus and discard, cut remainder into 1 inch pieces.
- Combine grilled veggies with other ingredients and serve. If available, we highly recommend a drizzle with balsamic glaze when serving.
Once we finished this salad, the farmer and founder of Cultivate the City (our gorgeous rooftop farm venue), approached with a box of freshly picked chive blossoms and asked if I was interested in having them. I couldn’t resist topping this already amazing salad with their onion-y goodness!
Finally, for the show-stopper, Greg put on the lamb kafta kabobs. Kafta is a middle-eastern style seasoned ground meat on skewers. The lamb was sourced from Elysian Fields Farm in Western Pennsylvania, a part of a farm co-op supporting SafeAlternative animal management methods. Having kafta at your Shabbat is a great way to get high quality proteins at a reasonable price because ground meat is more flavorful when it’s made from cheaper cuts of meat. Every guest left the event with a custom-made spice kit ready to add to their lamb to reproduce the recipe at home. Leaving with a small reminder of the night is a great way to send off your guests at a dinner. All we did was pre-blend a spice mix and put it in a little jar. We also printed off our recipes so guests would have a reminder of the day.
LAMB KAFTA SKEWERS
4 LBS ground lamb
2 TSP cinnamon
4 TBSP Kosher Salt
2 TBSP ground Cumin
1 TSP Allspice
1 TSP dried mint
1 TSP dried marjoram (or oregano)
2 TSP ground coriander
1 TBSP paprika
1 TSP Aleppo pepper
3 TBSP dried or fresh minced onions
1 TBSP black pepper
- Combine all ingredients and mix well.
- Cover and refrigerate 30 min.
- Meanwhile, soak wood skewers in water.
- Using wet hands, form kafta around skewers to about the size of a hot dog.
- Grill ~3 min each side, rotating to cook all 4 sides. If it sticks to the grill grate, leave it for an extra minute until it comes free easily.
Over our meal, we learned about the time of the Omer – the time between Passover and Shavuot- when the Jews were free but had not yet received the Torah – joining traditions and practice. During this time we are commanded to count every day, building the anticipation for the celebration of Shavuot, and being present and aware for every new bud and new sign of spring that we witness. We can’t have celebrations during the counting- no weddings, haircuts, or parties allowed. The one exception is Lag B’Omer, one day in the midst of mourning to be joyful. Jewish tradition helps us keep a balance of remembrance and celebration. At weddings we break a glass to remember suffering, and Yom Hazikaron comes just before Yom Ha’atzmaut.
During our nosh, we celebrated the vegetables just coming into season and the fact that we can be outside cooking on the grill! You can replicate this celebration at your Shabbat dinners all summer with seasonal produce, a good grill char, and good company.
Thank you to Whole Foods Market for co-sponsoring this event and providing our delicious produce.