Labor Day is the unofficial end of summer. Vacations are done. School’s underway. We’re back to the work-a-day world. The appropriate rite of passage is a backyard barbecue.
But anybody can grill steaks, burgers and bratwurst. We’ve done that all summer. Let’s try something different: a vegetarian grill-out.
Here are a few possibilities:
• Simple grilled vegetables: Cut half-inch-thick slices of tomato, zucchini, eggplant, and onions. Brush with oil or Italian dressing and grill over medium heat until softened and lightly charred.
• Big carrots: These are peeled and simmered until almost cooked through, then brushed with oil, sprinkled with rosemary and plopped over a medium fire long enough to get those tasty grill marks. Delicious.
• Grilled Caesar salad: Cut heads of romaine lettuce in two, lengthwise, leaving the core. Brush with Caesar dressing. Grill on each side until charred and wilted a bit. Brush with more dressing. Sprinkle with Parmesan and serve.
• Dessert: Try grilled fruit. Half-inch thick rings of pineapple. Peaches, pears or apricots cut in half, pitted or cored and placed face down, grilled, then brushed with honey and cinnamon and served warm with vanilla ice cream.
Wine matches for a vegetarian grill-out tend toward whites, rosés and light-bodied reds. The herbal flavors of white sauvignon blanc go well with simply grilled vegetables. The smoky flavors of grilled romaine lettuce go well with an oaky chardonnay.
If you serve your veggies with tomato sauce and cheese — atop a pizza, for example — think in terms of rosés or light-bodied reds. Grilled fruits match nicely with a sweet wine.
2012 Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand: youthful and lively, with aromas and flavors of fresh herbs and white grapefruit; $15.
2012 Morgan “Metallico” Un-Oaked Chardonnay, Santa Lucia Highlands: pure flavors of pineapples and lemons, crisp acids, light and lively; $22.
2012 McManis Family Vineyards Chardonnay, River Junction, Calif.: hint of oak, flavors of white peaches and apricots, full-bodied; $10.
2012 Hahn Family Pinot Gris, Monterey, Calif.: light, delicate and crisp, with lemon and kiwi flavors and a hint of sweetness; $14.
Nonvintage “Casamatta Rosso,” Toscana, IGT (a Chianti-style red wine): delicate tart cherry flavors, light body, light tannins; $14.
2011 Murphy-Goode Pinot Grigio, California: light and crisp, with flavors of ripe pears and golden apples; $13.
Nonvintage Masi “Bonacosta” Valpolicella, Veneto, Italy: dark red, light and dry, with floral aromas and black plum flavors; $15.
2011 Francis Ford Coppola “Sofia” Rosé, California: light, crisp and dry, with flavors of tart strawberries and cinnamon; $15.
2012 Banrock Station Pink Moscato, South Australia: light and bubbly, sweet and fruity, with strawberry and melon flavors, $11.
Fred Tasker writes about wine for the McClatchy News Service. Contact him at email@example.com.