So you’ve bought your salmon and chosen a yummy salmon recipe to prepare it—but what about a side dish? A salmon fillet or chicken cutlet alone is not a full meal, and you still need to fill half your plate with veggies to get all the fiber and nutrients that you can only find in those greens. In this video, Chef Jason Fullilove shows how to pan-sear vegetables for an easy side dish.
Roasted vegetables caramelize and lose a bit of their bitterness, but they can take nearly 20 minutes in the oven. Grilled veggies cook a little faster, and they have great, smoky flavor. However, not everyone has a grill in their backyard—heck, some of us don’t even have backyards! Plus, vegetables on the grill lose a bit of their appeal during the winter when using the grill requires stepping out onto a frigid or snowy patio. There has to be another way!
And there is: Give those veggies a sear on the stove! Grilling vegetables on the stove allows you to capture the caramelization of roasting in a shorter time, and pan-searing gives the essence of grilling without actually having to fire up the grill.
To make these grilled vegetables, Chef Fullilove uses whichever vegetables are in season. Cut them into equal pieces to ensure even cooking times. Otherwise, you’ll end up with some pieces that are charred, and others that are still raw. Nobody wants that on their plate!
One trick to grilling vegetables quickly is blanching them beforehand. This means placing the vegetables in boiling salt water for about two minutes, and then “shocking” them, or plunging them into ice cold water. (For example, here’s how to blanch asparagus.) This immediately stops the cooking process and helps them retain their bright yellow or green colors. After blanching vegetables, you can store them in the fridge until you’re ready to use them. In fact, you can do this the day before a dinner event and then grill them on the stove before your guests arrive!
When it’s time to grill the vegetables, lay the veggies cut side-down in a hot skillet (try a cast iron for the best flavor and most even sear). Just as when you sear a fillet or burger, leave the vegetables alone while they cook until they have caramelized into a hard sear. Chef Fullilove suggests waiting until the veggies move easily in the pan when you give it a shake—this means the veggies are seared. Since these vegetables have already been blanched, it should only take two or three minutes in the skillet to sear. (Here’s how to clean that cast iron skillet when you’re all done.)
Although grilling vegetables adds great flavor on its own, you can amp it up and add a pinch of salt and black pepper. You can also add a sprinkle of herbs like thyme, rosemary, or chives.