Vegetables are more versatile than many people may know. Steaming or sautéing vegetables might be among the most popular ways to cook veggies, but grillmasters know that it's not just main dishes that taste great when cooked over an open flame. As the following recipe for "Charred Green Beans with Lemon Verbena Pesto" from Karen Adler and Judith Fertig's "The Gardener & The Grill" (Running Press) can attest, grilled vegetables make for simple yet satisfying side dishes.
Charred Green Beans with Lemon Verbena Pesto
Serves 2 to 4
11⁄2 pounds slender green beans
2 teaspoons olive oil
Lemon Verbena Pesto
1 cup fresh lemon verbena leaves (substitute fresh lemon balm leaves)
2 garlic cloves
1⁄4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1⁄4 cup pine nuts or English walnuts
1⁄2 cup olive oil
Fine kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Prepare a hot fire in your grill.
Toss the beans with olive oil and place in a perforated grill basket or wok set on a baking sheet.
For the Lemon Verbena Pesto, combine the lemon verbena, garlic, cheese, and nuts in a food processor and pulse to puree. Slowly add the olive oil with the processor running until the mixture thickens and emulsifies, about 1 minute. Season to taste with salt and pepper. The pesto will keep in the refrigerator for 7 to 10 days, or it may be frozen for up to 3 months.
Place the grill wok or basket directly over the fire and stir-grill, tossing the beans with wooden paddles or grill spatulas until crisp-tender, about 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer the grilled beans to a large bowl and toss with about 1⁄4 cup of the Lemon Verbena Pesto or to taste.