I just finished my first grilling/barbecue competition, and for a newbie, I did mighty well—1st place chicken wings, 1st place chef's choice, 9th place ribs, and 6th place overall. My weak link was the odd category of "vegetable." I struggled over what to make, testing many recipes, but finally settled on a simple one for corn with chili lime butter. In the end, it wasn't enough to win over the judges, and I should have gone with something more impressive, like these zucchini rolls stuffed with goat cheese and mint.
I had seen these rolls around the blogs for years now but never had a reason to make them until now. This was probably due to the fact that, while they look really cool, they are a bit of work from start to finish.
The process begins with slicing zucchinis very thin, then carefully grilling them until they pick up a subtle smokiness and they're soft enough to roll, but not so soft they fall apart. The grilled slices are spread with goat cheese and hit with a little mint and balsamic. Arugula and hot pepper matchsticks then get rolled up inside, and the whole thing is secured with a blanched chive.
I'm not the type of cook who handles delicate dishes like this well, so I was impressed that I pulled it off, but by the time I had finished, the rolls were already room temperature. This is fine for everyday, as the rolls had a tremendous amount of flavor in each bite with so much stuffed into a little package, but I worried about them not being hot while in the hands of harsh judges.
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About the author: Joshua Bousel brings you new, tasty condiment each Wednesday and a recipe for weekend grilling every Friday. He also writes about grilling and barbecue on his blog The Meatwave whenever he can be pulled away from his grill.