When it gets too hot to even think about turning on the oven, we go outside to the trusty grill. And when our gardens seemed to be filled with too many zucchini and tomatoes, again, the grill is our savior. Over at the Lucharitos Center Moriches location, new head chef Joe Taffurelli is taking that idea and turning it into new menu items.
In the beating sun, Taffurelli stands in front of his grill. A metal pan full of glistening baby turnips and roasting garlic gloves seasoned with salt and pepper sizzle away.
“They might go into a flatbread, but I’m gonna try it in a taco,” he said. “So, this is like a test run. No matter what, they’re going to be delicious and I want to keep the integrity of them.” Almost all of the vegetables used on the menu here come from the garden on the property, and today, Taffurelli is using the grill to bring out the best of those summer veggies.
Next up, a farm fresh flatbread. He starts by throwing naan bread on the grill grates. Then, he adds mozzarella on top.
“I’m going to use two different types of tomato — one is an heirloom tomato we grow and we also grow this yellow pear,” he says, showing off the hourglass figure of the vegetable. He slices those and places them on top, followed by a pesto, made from the farm. Taffurelli finishes by pulling it off the grill, drizzling on balsamic glaze and garnishing with deep purple basil, also from the farm.
“There are no rules to flatbreads. That’s what I love about them,” he says, in between bites, adding that a ‘farm-fresh flatbread’ can be made with any vegetables on hand — that’s the beauty of them.
“You can also make a fire roasted quesadilla. So, let’s do something right now,” Taffurelli said, moving back to the grill. “Okay. So, off the cuff, what do I know I have? I have these beautiful roasted turnips, right? I’m gonna pull these out.”
He pulls the pan off the grill and cuts the tiny turnips in half. He then throws a large flour tortilla on the grill and blankets on a layer of Monterey Jack cheese. He moves swiftly back to his cutting board and slices a red pepper, throwing that on the grill too to char. A few moments later, he adds the pepper and sliced turnips on the cheese and closes the whole thing.
“It’s a good way to get your kids to eat some vegetables,” Taffurelli says, slicing the now crispy quesadilla into quarters. “This just inspires me to want to do a complete veggie quesadilla.”
If you’re looking for even simpler ways to use up the abundance of vegetables coming out of your garden, here’s what Taffurelli does at home.
“I slice zucchini, squash or eggplant the long way, and I like to just dress them with a little balsamic vinegar, oil, salt and pepper, toss them around, let it sit for like 15 minutes,” he says. “Then, you can grill it quickly, and it won’t fall through the grates as easily.”
From there, you can eat it on its own or add it to a veggie sandwich or wrap. Taffurelli also does this with carrots. “The sugars come out of the carrot like you wouldn’t believe. Even if you get that carrot almost black on the outside, it’s delicious,” he says.
If you’re up to your elbows in peppers, throw them on the grill and mix them with onions and pickling liquid for a smoky relish you can save for the winter months. Anyway you do it, the grill is a great way to bring out the best of the abundance of the summer garden.