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Lipsmacking Backpacking

42 43 The colour, texture and flavours are what make vegetables great. Making a fabulous meal is really simple but still, most backpackers, including me for years, make the mistake of boiling them. Boiled vegetables taste dull and lifeless. Boiling is boring. Boiling steals the flavours and deadens the texture of any vegetable. Pop them on the grate instead and its a different experience the skin gets blackened in places, the juices stay inside and dribble down your chin when you take a bite. The flavours become deep and rich and gratecooked vegetables are just as good eaten cold the next day. Or whack them in a pan for a quick sweat or stirfry so that they get hot and their flavours mingle slightly. Or eat them raw, on their own or in a salad, and savour the colours and the taste. Just dont serve a plate of plain softboiled carrots. Barbecued vegetables go with anything, but work best with staples that are slightly more moist, such as risotto add the vegetables just as the last third of water is being added, mashed roots, pulses, polenta, cous cous, or bulghur. As far as serving them up is concerned, dont just serve them on the side, chop them up and stir them in, or make a tower from, say, one layer cold polenta, one layer of a particular vegetable, another layer of polenta and then more of a different vegetable. Whoever said playing with your food was silly Its art baby Vegetables, OilFat, Salt and pepper Most large vegetables can simply be put straight onto the grate. The principle is the same as always get some heat inside. Cooking times will vary on the thickness of the vegetable and how moist it is. For example, an aubergine can be cooked whole turned quite often and will take about 30 minutes. A thin slice will be done in a few minutes. A tomato will be done very quickly. Dryer vegetables should have some oil, butter or fat smeared on to them. Extra flavour can be gained by seasoning the vegetables with salt and pepper, and adding any herbs or spices that you might have to hand. You can also give them a good squeeze of citrus just before you eat them. Theres no need to overdo it with the frills though, a onion quarter, barbecued, oily and hot needs nothing more than a good scattering of salt to make it heavenly.
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