The ideal side dish for just about every get-together around the BBQ grill, 'Firecracker Veggies' complements everything from ribs to chicken to venison to sausage to filet mignons. To master the recipe, all you need is a BBQ pit, a couple of sheets of aluminum foil, a blender to make the marinade, and the ingredients.

6 pieces aluminum foil, 12 inches square

2 whole Portabella mushrooms, cut into slices

2 zucchinis, sliced into thin strips

1 eggplant, sliced into thin strips

4 carrots, sliced into thin strips

1 bunch asparagus, trimmed

1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips

1 bunch green onions, whole

1 bottle Frank Davis Vegetable Seasoning

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 cup greek-style vinaigrette

1 stick butter, melted

2 Tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce

2/3 cup Parmesan, grated

On a large work surface, lay out the sheets of foil. Then 'bundle' up in the center of each piece of foil a strip of mushroom, a strip of zucchini, a strip of eggplant, a strip of carrots, a strip of asparagus, a strip of bell pepper, and one whole green onion minus the bulb. This works best if you place them each parallel to each other.

Now take the blender and, with it running at three-quarter speed, combine the vegetable seasoning, olive oil, vinaigrette, melted butter, and Worcestershire sauce. When the mixture is totally emulsified, drizzle it evenly over the six bundles. Then roll each bundle into a tube, twisting the top and bottom tightly together to seal the package.

All that's left to do now is to place the tubes on the barbecue grill and cook them over the grates for about 15 minutes or until they are steamed tender crisp. When you're ready to eat, simply slit open the foil, sprinkle liberally with Parmesan cheese, and enjoy alongside the pasta salad and the 'Weenie Burgers.'


Chef's Notes:

Why make weenie burgers instead of just putting weenies on a hot dog bun? Well, first, the presentation is nicer (Mary Clare thinks they're cute.) But more importantly, every slice in the weenie opens it up to thorough cooking and tenderization. In fact, the meat actually puffs up and releases its excess fats, making it lighter on the diet. And finally, the hole it makes in the center provides a super reservoir to hold all the extras.

You can choose any kind of cut pasta you desire to make the salad. The only kind I don't recommend are the string versions, like spaghetti, linguine, angel hair, etc. But ditali, penne, wheels, bowties, etc. are all ideal for this recipe.

The veggie recipe can be made a day or two in advance and be kept in the fridge until time to put on the grill. It's okay to pour on the marinade and let it soak into the vegetable strips way before cooking time. Flavor intensities will be much richer if the vegetables are done this way.