I found a George Foreman Lean Mean Fat Reducing Grilling Machine in my Dad's kitchen, and since he doesn't cook - at all - he told me to take it home with me. Dandy. I've been wishing for a nice heavy (expensive) panini press, but really don't have room for one in my own humble kitchen, and can't justify the expense just to make a sandwich for lunch now and then. I though this little grill might suffice, and it does, sort of.
It's small, actually tiny and sort of adorable, with it's purple plastic bun warmer top. Small is good when you have a small kitchen and ever diminishing storage space. It won't cook a lot of food at one time, like only maybe three garden burgers at most, but for only one or two people, that's plenty. And it's all non-stick, which means you don't need to use a lot of oil.
On the less positive side, it doesn't get very hot, and has no temperature control. I spent most of the afternoon grilling one onion, one eggplant, one bell pepper, three small zucchinis, and three portobello mushrooms. The upside of the slowness is you can get distracted for quite a while without worrying about burning your food. I get distracted a lot, especially when I have helpers in the kitchen.
The other thing I don't care for is the slant of the grill. It's tilted to allow excess grease, presumably from cooked meat, drain off into little tray. But grilling vegetables don't need this feature, and tend to slide off before I can close the lid, so I remedied the slant by propping the front legs on a cutting board. Problem solved.
Eventually we had a nice plate full of grilled veggies, which we used as toppings on our tortilla pizzas. Deeeeelicious. And there was enough left over to make some nice panini sandwiches the next night. I used "Little George," as I already so fondly call him, as well as my grill pan with a cast iron press. The difference was minimal. Both sandwiches cooked beautifully, although the one on the stove cooked a little bit faster, since I had control over the temperature. Used as a panini press, Little George toasts bread and melts vegan cheese much faster than it grills a slice of eggplant. I think that's because of the thickness of the sandwich, which allows both the top and the bottom of the grill to come into good contact with the food. On the second round, I also found that vegetables sliced a half inch thick, or slightly thicker, cooked better than the thinner slices.
Bottom line is, grilled vegetables are wonderful. Make some. Use them in everything from salads to sandwiches to pizzas to casseroles. How you grill them doesn't matter as much as finding a method, and possibly a machine, that suits you. I think I'm fine for now with keeping it simple. The big panini press can wait. But Little George is a welcome addition to my growing fleet of Small Kitchen Appliances.