Grilled, Marinated Zucchini and Eggplant

* Update: I wrote this several years ago, but now that I've cut out eating meat this recipe has become a mainstay for my grill!

Originally Published: Sep 12, 2008

When I'm grilling I like to have as much of the meal on the grill as I can, I can't stand having to run back and forth between the grill and the stove 10 or 20 times. One easy side dish I like to grill is marinated zucchini and eggplant. Often I'll include portabella mushrooms caps with these two.

Last night I was grilling some chicken thighs and this dish, along with baked potatoes, was the perfect accompaniment. The flavor of the grilled eggplant is absolutely explosive, and even the often neutral tasting zucchini will make you take notice. The flavors of the dressing are really accentuated by the grilling process.

I mixed together a simple Italian dressing as a marinade, but you can use your favorite bottled Italian style dressing if you like.


Italian Dressing/

2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp ground black pepper
2 tsb white sugar
2 Tbsp fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 Tbsp fresh oregano leaves, chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup white distilled vinegar

Whisk all together in a bowl,
Let it sit at room temperature for 20 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to mingle


Grilled, Marinated Zucchini and Eggplant

1 Whole eggplant
2 Medium sized zucchini


Wash the eggplant and the zucchini, removing the ends and any visible bad spots
Cut the eggplant into 1" thick rounds, salt the eggplant on both sides and lay it in a colander to drain for 20 minutes (this removes bitterness and excess moisture)
Slice the zucchini lengthwise in 1/2" thick slices
Pat off excess moisture and salt for the eggplant with a paper towel
Shake the Italian dressing well and pour it over the eggplant and eggplant (together or separately)
Using a brush, make sure all surfaces are coated with the dressing, cover and let sit refrigerated or an hour or more
Place pieces on a hot grill, cook for about five minutes
Keep brushing on the marinade while you are grilling to keep the vegetables from drying out
Flip over, grill for about five more minutes, or until cooked through
Sprinkle fresh chopped basil over top (optional), serve and enjoy!


Ode to Rice Krispies Treats

photo credit: stevendepolo

The following is a guest post by my wife, Lynley SanGeorge.

There are a lot of times when I am brought back to childhood….like right before a storm when I catch the scent of rain in the summer air before the downpour ensues, or the laughter of neighborhood children carried by the refreshing breeze. The five senses are powerful memory evokers and the smell of chlorine does it for me time after time. Growing up in Florida, my two brothers, sister and I, LIVED in the water, especially in the hot, humid summers of Miami. The smell of hotdogs and hamburgers makes me nostalgic too, although, much to the chagrin of my parents, I was probably one of the pickiest eaters, or at least that is what they would tell you. While everyone else was munching on a deliciously juicy burger, I would say “just cheese, ketchup and a napkin please.” But, really the smell of the meat cooking on the grill reminds me of family, security and being together.

Hands down the most powerful memory evoker is the smell of my mother’s homemade chocolate chip cookies wafting like angels in the air. Way before the threat of salmonella was even thought about in our house, we would pile huge clumps of raw dough on top of a warm cookie and eat them one after another. My mom often let us help her with baking, (as much as four children running around you in circles, saying “my turn, my turn” is helpful).

One of my favorite things to make with my mom besides her famous cookies was Rice Krispies treats. The feeling of being grown up and the independence I was granted by making something “all by myself” cannot be underestimated. As a shy child it helped build my confidence. With my mother standing close by I was able to pour the Rice Krispies into the hot pan and stir the marshmallows. I would watch as the butter turned the fluffy clouds into a gooey goodness, and then we would spread the sticky concoction into a buttered casserole dish. I would inevitably lick my fingers when she was not looking. The worst part was waiting until the treats cooled in the refrigerator and of course the best part was devouring them. Rice Krispies Treats always required a tall, cold glass of whole milk to go with them.

It’s the little things that bring me joy, and every time a familiar product becomes gluten free, I get excited. Not just because of the price and availability, but really because it means companies are listening and becoming more aware, people are taking notice and change is happening.

This week, my girls and I will put on our matching aprons and make Rice Krispies Treats for daddy. I will tell them to be careful and watch them closely as they stir the mixture and I will pretend not to notice (just this once) while they lick their fingers. Afterwards they will ask me, just as they always do when we bake together, “can daddy have one? Are they gluten free?” I will happily answer “yes!” Their daddy will be able to eat actual Rice Krispies Treats, of course along with a tall glass of cold milk. Probably skim; after all, we are adults now.

**The gluten free version of Rice Krispies cereal should be available in stores today, July 1st 2011! Be sure to look for the words "gluten free" on the cover to be certain .


Butternut Squash Soup with Ginger

When I was young the word squash was a "bad" word to me. If my mother were to say "come on, we're having squash for dinner", my first inclination would be to run and hide!
First off the word itself conjures something that isn't whole, but that has either been stepped on, or dropped. When you squash food it becomes indistinct and unrecognizable. To top this off my early memory of squash was frozen zucchini, over-boiled, served in water with a medley of other "Italian vegetables". Then there was the winter squash that sat in a bowl on the kitchen counter like a decoration; I never wanted any part of it either.

But then one cold winter day when I was a teenager my mother offered me half of an acorn squash she had baked. After an initial refusal she told me she would put brown sugar, cinnamon and butter on it. This sounded adequately tempting and the fact that it was steamy hot on a cold Buffalo, NY winter day didn't hurt either. I remembered tasting it and being delightfully surprised! The deep earthy tones of the squash mixed with the exotic cinnamon and sweet brown sugar took me to a new place. All these years later I can still go to that place, and this recipe is one way to get there! Butternut squash in many ways has even more of the qualities that endeared me to squash that day. And a Butternut squash soup, if done right,also has a silky smooth texture that is unbeatable. Not to mention its beautiful orange color.

This recipe is one I came up with when I was trying to get the most out of butternut squash. The fresh ginger adds a nice, faintly spicy element, the nutmeg adds a bit of exotic warmth. On a whim I threw a potato in,to make the soup a bit more hearty and really like what if did for the texture.

Butternut Squash Soup with Ginger
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small sweet onion, chopped fine
3 cloves of garlic, diced
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 1" cubes
1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated, or diced.
1 tsp nutmeg
salt/pepper to taste
1 large Butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1' cubes
1 large potato, peeled and cut into 1' cubes
8 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
1 tsp brown sugar


Heat the olive oil in a soup pot on medium heat
Add the onions and garlic, cook for 30 seconds, or until the onions are translucent
Stir in the carrot, celery and ginger, butternut squash, potato, salt, pepper (to taste) and nutmeg, mix well and cook for two to four minutes, cover everything evenly on the spices and oil.
Add the Chicken Stock and the brown sugar, mix everything together well and bring the heat to high until the pot boils
Once the pot comes to a steady boil turn it down to simmer for 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so
After 45 minutes remove the pot from the heat and blend the soup in a food processor until smooth, but be careful it's very hot! if you don't have a blender large enough to hold the entire contents of the pot blend the soup in batches.
Serve hot and enjoy!


End of Summer Rustic Tomato Sauce

Rustic Tomato Sauce
Lets face it, summer is winding down. Even if I didn't want to admit it, just looking at my garden gave me a not so subtle clue that Fall is approaching. My tomatoes, which came in abundance earlier this year, now look as though they are ready to give up. All that is left, are several over-ripe ones. Our generous neighbor stopped by and gave us lots of vegetables including several more over-ripe tomatoes.

This has been a great season for tomatoes, which are one of my favorite vegetables, technically a fruit, (but that just doesn't seem right). This summer I've cooked tomatoes in all kinds of ways, and made one of my seasonal favorites, a simple tomato sandwich, just bread, mayo and a few huge slices of tomatoes! Delicious!

So what did I do with the stack of juicy, dripping, and some-what rotting stack of tomatoes? What else... make sauce! After carving away the bad parts, I diced them, skins, seeds and all (This IS a rustic sauce after all).

For some extra flavor, I reached into my freezer and found two frozen delicious Italian sausage from Giacomo's Italian Market, the best Italian sausage I've found so far in my town of Greensboro, NC, (It's not easy finding good, authentic Italian food here)!

The sauce was rich, acidic and bursting with the fresh flavor of fresh tomatoes. As a matter of fact I would have been perfectly content to eat it as a a soup!

End of Summer Rustic Tomato Sauce

4 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive oil
2 Italian Sausage links (2 pork chops can be substituted)
1/2 onion- minced
6 cloves of garlic, smashed
1 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)
Salt and Pepper to taste

1 tsp sugar
6 large ripe tomatoes
Tbsp Fresh basil and oregano, chopped


• Heat a medium saucepan at medium heat, add 2 Tbsp Olive oil.
• Add the Italian sausage, cook it on all sides, turning every few minutes. Cook until fully browned, around 8-10 minutes.
• Remove the sausage and cut it into bite-sized rounds, set aside.
• In the same (still hot) pan, add the other 2 Tbsp's of Olive Oil
• Stir in the Onion and garlic along with the Salt, pepper and Crushed red pepper
• Once the onions turn translucent (about a minute) add all of the chopped tomatoes
• Stir in the cut-up Italian sausage and sugar
• Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.
• Once boiling reduce to simmer, and cook uncovered for 20 minutes. Stirring occasionally

Serve over (gluten free rice) pasta, sprinkle with chopped Fresh basil and oregano, and Parmesan cheese. Personally I recommend a glass of a good red wine as well.


Sunday Sauce

This morning I carried on a ritual that has been passed down in my family for (at least) three generations. Before I ate breakfast, or even made coffee I smashed some garlic and opened several cans of tomato paste. This is the SanGeorge Sunday tomato sauce ritual. According to my dad, his father made a big pot of sauce every Sunday and he learned how to make it by watching his father make it. I assume that this tradition was carried over from Italy when my great-grandfather came to the United States one hundred years ago.

This may be the last time I make sauce this winter. Sauce season coincides almost directly with football season, the two are linked in my mind, as is the phrase, "somebody stir the sauce!", repeated every 20 minutes throughout the 6-8 hour duration of cooking time. I remember when I was little my dad would start the sauce and the meatballs around 8am. He would bring the sauce to a simmer and let it cook while we went to church. When we returned home the house would be full of the rich aroma of tomatoes, tantalizing us. But, we would have to wait another three or four hours until the sauce "turned", or matured to have the full rich flavor that makes it so good. My dad would have two spoons on the stove next to the pot; one for stirring and one for tasting. When my father was engrossed in the Buffalo Bills game on the TV, I would often use the latter spoon to sneak a meatball, sometimes having to shove the whole (and very hot) thing in my mouth to avoid detection.

Sadly now my father can no longer eat the sauce that he loved to make. Being a survivor of throat cancer, with radiation and multiple surgeries, he hasn't been able to eat solid food for some time. Recently the doctors have told him that he is to have "nothing by mouth". All of his nutrition is fed through a tube in his stomach, mostly while he sleeps. So when I sometimes get frustrated about not being able to eat things because of gluten, I contrast it to my father who can't eat anything at all. So what if I can't eat semolina pasta, rice pasta isn't that bad. So what if I can't eat doughnuts or pizza, there are hundreds (or thousands) of foods and flavors that I can eat. It's times like this that I remember that life really is good without gluten!
This meatball's for you dad.

Oh, what? You want the recipe for the sauce? Sorry, but there are some things that even I have to keep secret! I will suggest a great Italian dish for a cold day; try my Chicken Cacciatore recipe, I made this last week and it's hard to go wrong with it.