Tag Archives: vegetables

Farmers Market Chicken Dinner

chicken platter tastefood

Grilled Chicken, Garlic Scapes, Potatoes, Lambs Lettuce, Lemon, Roasted Garlic

A trip to the farmers market yielded the ingredients to assemble this spring dinner. It didn’t require much: one chicken, a bunch of green garlic, potatoes and lambs lettuce. A good glugg of olive oil, a head of garlic, and a lemon plucked from our tree was all that was needed to bring this meal together. And a skillet and a grill.

chicken skillet

Green garlic is young garlic and resembles thick spring onions. Its flavor is buttery and milder than garlic cloves, and it’s delicious roasted and braised. In this preparation, the bulbs and white stalks were tucked under the chicken which nestled in a skillet surrounded by potatoes and the garlic head. The green garlic tips were chopped and tumbled with lemon zest, oil and a pinch of sea salt, for a bright gremolata garnish – and no waste. Lambs lettuce is mild and pleasantly nutty and best simply dressed so as not to overwhelm its delicate flavor. I dressed it lightly with oil and lemon and scattered it around the carved chicken. And the roasted head of garlic? Squeezed into the pan juices for deep flavor and a rich final touch.

garlic scapes

Roasted Chicken Platter with Potatoes, Garlic Scapes and Lemony Lambs Lettuce

The beauty of this recipe is its ease of preparation and one-skillet method. The veggies and chicken roast together – either on the grill or in the oven. Other vegetables such as onions and carrots may easily be substituted. Serves 4.

1 (4 pound) chicken
Salt
Extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
3/4 pound garlic scapes
1 pound small yukon gold potatoes, halved crosswise
1 large head of garlic, outer layers of skin removed, top trimmed by 1/2 inch to expose the cloves.
1 untreated lemon, halved

Salad:
6 ounces lambs lettuce (mache)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. If you have time, season the chicken all over including inside the cavity with salt. Place in a bowl or on a rimmed dish and refrigerate uncovered for a few hours. Remove from refrigerator 1 hour before roasting. Drizzle and coat with olive oil. Season with freshly ground black pepper.
2. Prepare a grill for indirect cooking over medium-high heat (about 400°F/ 200°C). If using an oven, preheat to 400°F.
3. Snip off the green stalks of the garlic scapes and set aside. Place the bulbs, the potatoes and garlic head in a large bowl. Drizzle with about 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Toss to coat, then dump the vegetables into a large cast iron skillet (or grill-proof baking dish). Nestle the chicken into the center of the vegetables, breast-side up. Roast over indirect medium-high heat until the chicken is thoroughly cooked through, 1 to 1 1/4 hours, basting occasionally with pan juices and rotating the pan from time to time to ensure even cooking. Remove from heat and transfer the chicken to a cutting board. Let rest for 15 minutes.
4. While the chicken rests, squeeze the roasted garlic into the pan and gently mix around to combine with the juices and vegetables.
5. Finely chop the green garlic  tips and place in a bowl. Add 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest and juice of 1/2 lemon, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and a pinch of salt. Stir to combine.
6. Place the lambs lettuce in a large bowl. Whisk the oil, lemon juice, mustard and salt in a small bowl. Add to the lambs lettuce and toss to coat.
7. Carve the chicken into serving pieces and arrange on a large serving platter. Arrange the roasted potatoes and garlic scapes around the chicken. Scatter the lambs lettuce around the chicken and vegetables. Spoon some of the pan juices over the chicken and vegetables and sprinkle with the gremolata.

Quick-Braised Chicken with White Wine and Vegetables

Braised Chicken Wine

White Wine Braised Chicken with Leeks, Carrots, Mushrooms, Thyme

Humble stews are quintessential comfort food. Braised and slow cooked, they are one-pot wonders infused with deep flavors coaxed from hearty vegetables and meat. These long simmering concoctions are often left for the weekend with stretches of time for cooking. So what to do during the week when we crave equally satisfying and nourishing meals in less than an hour? Quick braising is the answer. This chicken recipe can be quickly prepped and popped in the oven for 30 minutes of hands-free braising. Light yet rich, this flavorful meal will address any cravings for a hearty dinner. Weeknight food never tasted so slow.

Wine-Braised Chicken with Vegetables and Thyme

Keeping the chicken skin exposed while braising ensures that the skin will remain crisp and golden.

Serves 4.

4 large chicken breast halves, with skin and ribs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 leeks, white parts only, thinly sliced
2 large carrots, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 pound white or cremini mushrooms, sliced 1/2-inch thick
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup dry white wine
2 to 3 cups chicken stock

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Season the chicken breasts all over with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a deep skillet or wide Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, skin side down, in batches. Cook until the skin is brown and crispy, 4 to 5 minutes, then turn the chicken and cook 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate and repeat with remaining chicken.

Drain off all but 1 tablespoon fat from the pot and add 1 tablespoon oil. Add the leeks to the pot and saute over medium heat, about 1 minute. Add the carrots, mushrooms and garlic. Saute over medium heat until the vegetables begin to soften and brighten in color, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the white wine and bring to a boil, scraping up any brown bits. Add the bay leaf, thyme, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Return the chicken to the pot and nestle, skin-side up, into the vegetables. Pour in enough chicken stock, without splashing the skin, to nearly cover the chicken but not submerge it. The skin should remain exposed. Bring to a simmer. Cover and cook over low heat for 10 minutes. Uncover pot and transfer to oven. Bake until the chicken is cooked through, about 30 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken breasts. Serve in bowls with rice, farro or couscous.

Grilled Ratatouille Salad

ratatouille  salad

~ Grilled Ratatouille Salad with Couscous ~

It’s that time of year when the garden is lobbing bushels of vegetables at us faster than a tennis ball machine. And it means one thing: It’s time for ratatouille. Now, mind you, this is not your traditional ratatouille. Instead of simmering a stew of Provencal vegetables on the stovetop, I’ve thrown eggplant, squash, onions and peppers on the grill until lightly charred, then tossed them with olive oil and fresh herbs. It’s a lighter version that’s very versatile. I like to serve it over couscous, tossed with pasta or spooned on top of grilled garlic bread.

Grilled Ratatouille Salad

If you don’t have a grill, the veggies may be broiled in the oven. You may either roast the tomatoes with the vegetables or toss them in at the end. (If you grill them, thread on pre-soaked bamboo skewers to prevent them from falling through the grates). If desired, sprinkle with crumbled feta or goat cheese before serving.

Serves 4.

2 medium zucchini or yellow squash, cut in 1/2 inch slices
2 red or yellow bell peppers, quartered, stems and seeds removed
1 small eggplant, sliced crosswise 1/2-inch thick
1 large red onion, slice crosswise, 1/2 inch thick
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup grape tomatoes
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup Italian parsley sprigs, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, shredded

Prepare a grill for direct cooking over medium heat. Spread the vegetables on a tray. Brush with olive oil and lightly season with salt and pepper. Grill until lightly charred and cooked to desired doneness, 6 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool slightly, about 5 minutes. When cool enough to handle, cut in large chunks. Place in a bowl with tomatoes, garlic, parsley and basil. Gently toss to combine. Taste for seasoning and add more olive oil if desired. Serve warm or at room temperature.  

Braised Chicken in White Wine

~ Braised Chicken in White Wine with Carrots, Mushrooms and Thyme ~

On the first day of the new year I make a stew. There are many reasons why I do this. Stews and braises are healthy and fortifying, a comforting antidote to holiday menus and festivities. Stews are reflective, incorporating humble ingredients with heat and time, yielding deeply flavorful results. Stews comfort and nourish us, while warming us on a cold winter day. This year I received a beautiful French oven for a gift, so I have another reason to make a delicious stew today.

Braised Chicken in White Wine

The chicken skin remains exposed while the chicken braises to maintain the color and crispness of its skin. Serves 4.

4 large chicken breast halves, with skin and ribs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 leeks, white parts only, thinly sliced
2 large carrots, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 pound white or cremini mushrooms, sliced 1/2-inch thick
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup dry white wine
2 to 3 cups chicken stock

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Season the chicken breasts all over with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in an ovenproof pot or deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, skin side down, in batches. Cook until the skin is brown and crispy, 4 to 5 minutes, then turn the chicken and cook 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate and repeat with remaining chicken.

Drain off all but 1 tablespoon fat from the pot and add 1 tablespoon oil. Add the leeks to the pot and saute over medium heat, about 1 minute. Add the carrots, mushrooms and garlic. Saute over medium heat until the vegetables begin to soften and brighten in color, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the white wine and bring to a boil, scraping up any brown bits in pan. Add the bay leaf and thyme. Return the chicken to the pot and nestle, skin-side up, into the vegetables. Pour in enough chicken stock, without splashing the skin, to nearly cover the chicken but not submerge it. The skin should remain exposed. Bring to a simmer. Cover and cook over low heat for 10 minutes. Uncover pot and transfer to oven. Bake until the chicken is cooked through, about 25 minutes. Serve in bowls with rice, farro or couscous.

Beat the Heat: Gazpacho

~ Gazpacho ~

If heat could speak, then it’s shouting right now. It’s so hot outside, the candles have melted on the terrace, the dog hasn’t moved since yesterday, and we have blankets pinned down over our skylights to keep out the sun. In this heat, food must be easy, cool and light. Preparation should be kept to a minimum, and any heat generating appliances forbidden. In our home, this means it’s time for Gazpacho.

When I make gazpacho, we know that summer has arrived. We are dining al fresco, and the temperature is approaching triple digits. It’s a hot weather dinner staple that’s followed us from country to country, always called upon when we are in the midst of a heatwave. This gazpacho is chunky, and we affectionately call it a liquid salad. Not a fan of mushy consistencies, I dice all of the vegetables and float them in seasoned tomato juice. The result is a cool soup with loads of crunch and texture, satisfying and refreshing to eat. And in this heat, crunching our soup is the most exertion we can manage.


~
Gazpacho

Serve with cheese and bread, melon and prosciutto and a chilled rosé or sauvignon blanc. Serves 6-8.

32 ounces or 1 liter tomato juice
4 medium vine-ripened tomatoes, diced, with juices
2 spring onions, white parts thinly sliced, green parts reserved for garnish
1 English cucumber, seeded, cut in 1/4 inch dice
1 sweet red pepper, seeded, cut in 1/4 inch dice
1 small fennel bulb, fronds removed, cut in 1/4 inch dice
1 large carrot, finely diced
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, minced
1 large garlic clove, minced
Juice of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce, or to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro (or parsley)

Garnish:
Sliced jalapeños
Cilantro or parsley
Lime wedges

Combine all of the ingredients, except the cilantro in a large bowl. Mix together and taste for seasoning. Refrigerate at least one hour or up to 6 hours. Before serving, stir in the cilantro. Serve ganished with sliced green parts of the spring onions, sliced jalapeños, additional cilantro and lime wedges.

Spring “Tabbouleh” – Bulgur Salad with Lemon, Radishes and Snap Peas

Try this salad on for spring: Bulgur Salad with Lemon, Radishes and Snap Peas is packed with fresh herbs and greens, studded with radishes and sugar snap peas. It’s a refreshing version of tabbouleh, milder in flavor and bursting with seasonal vegetables.

What is tabbouleh? An addictively delicious Middle Eastern salad featuring bulgur wheat, steeped in water or stock, then tossed with an abundance of fresh parsley, mint, lemon and seasoning.  Its name translates to “little spicy” which is probably the tipping point for those of us who can’t get enough of this healthy salad.

As a concept I love playing with variations of tabbouleh. This recipe is inspired by the spring vegetables I purchased at the farmers’ market today. Kale flowers, radishes, sugar snap peas and red spring onions are tumbled with bulgur infused with lemon and olive oil. The spicing is gentle, in deference to the mild sweetness of the vegetables, without ignoring the “little spicy” contingent. Delicious and satisfying, enjoy this as a healthy salad, side dish or light main course.  I served it with pita bread and hummus for an easy vegetarian dinner.

Spring “Tabbouleh” – Bulgur Salad with Lemon, Radishes and Snap Peas

The bulgur should be tender but firm when cooked. The kale flowers are optional yet lovely as a bright garnish. Serves 4.

1 cup bulgur
1 1/4 cups water
Salt
1/4 cup olive oil
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/4 pound sliced sugar snap peas, cut on the diagonal, about 1 cup
1/4 pound sliced radishes, cut in slivers, about 1 cup
1 cup baby arugula leaves
1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley leaves
1/4 cup chopped mint leaves
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese, or to taste

Combine bulgur, water and 1 teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil; remove from heat.  Cover and let sit until the bulgur absorbs all of the liquid, about 20 minutes. Uncover and add 1/4 cup olive oil and lemon juice, fluffing the bulgur with a fork. Cool to room temperature. Add 1 teaspoon salt and all the remaining ingredients, gently tossing to combine. Taste for seasoning. Serve on a bed of greens or in pita pockets.

Roasted Chicken and Vegetables with Mustard and Tarragon

There is something intrinsically satisfying about roasting a chicken. Versatile, economical, forgiving, and consistently delicious: a roast is perfect family dinner fare, and also worthy of casual entertaining. Expecting guests? Roast 2 chickens and double up on the ingredients. Variations abound.  In our case, roast chicken often involves a rub, as minimal as simply salt or more embellished with olive oil, garlic, lemon, mustard. Add an Asian twist with grated ginger, or head to north Africa with coriander and cumin. A favorite preparation is to roast the bird nestled in a pan with seasonal vegetables. As the chicken cooks, the vegetables brown and baste, adding to the flavor to the pan juices.

Roast Chicken and Spring Vegetables with Mustard and Tarragon
Serves 4-6

This recipe takes advantage of spring’s new vegetables. Feel free to mix and match with what’s available. I used thick purple spring onions, white carrots and baby turnips. Onions, fennel and potatoes are also a sure thing. For a rustic family-style presentation, return the carved chicken to the skillet in which it roasted, amidst the vegetables and pan juices.

1  3-4 pound whole chicken
Salt
Juice of one lemon
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup fresh tarragon sprigs, coarsely chopped, plus extra for garnish

1 pound (6-8)  baby turnips, ends trimmed, halved
1/2 pound baby carrots, ends trimmed
6-8 thick red spring onions, ends trimmed, halved crosswise

Preheat oven to 400 F. Rinse and pat dry the chicken outside and inside the cavity. Whisk lemon juice, olive oil, mustard, 1 teaspoon salt and pepper together in a small bowl. Stir in the tarragon. Rub the 3/4 of the marinade all over the chicken – inside the cavity, outside, and between the skin and breast meat.
Place turnips, carrots and onions in a bowl. Toss with remaining marinade. Dump the vegetables into a large cast iron skillet or roasting pan. Nestle the chicken, breast-side up, in the middle of the vegetables. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove; using tongs turn chicken over, breast-side down. Return to oven and roast 20 minutes. Remove; turn chicken one more time. Continue roasting until chicken is cooked through and juices run clear when a knife is inserted in the thigh, 20-30 minutes. Transfer chicken to a cutting board and tent with foil. Let rest 15 minutes. Carve the chicken and return to the skillet with the vegetables and juices. Serve.

Home Grown Food

DK Salad

I may be exposing my suburban roots, but it thoroughly impresses me when an entire meal can be harvested from a back yard.  Nowadays, there is plenty of talk of local, sustainable food, and happily this concept is growing through local farmers’ markets and CSA’s, movements such as Slow Food, and committed practice by chefs and home cooks alike. Last week, the BlogHer Food Conference offered panel discussions on urban farming, canning, preserving and foraging. NOMA, the acclaimed Copenhagen restaurant crowned number one in the world this year, creates its menu from ingredients which are locally foraged. Times are changing and hopeful as we return to our land, our communities and our kitchens.

I do my best to buy locally grown food, grateful I live in a part of the country where we have an abundance. I remain mindful of what and how we eat, aware that this is a learning curve – a process to move through in order to change a pattern of living and eating into a way that feels intuitively correct. Yet, as I pat myself on my back, I cannot help but feel like a self-aggrandized neanderthal when I think of my husband’s family in Denmark. My state of attempted permanent mindfulness is their norm, naturally and reflexively. While I write about it to convey an epiphany, they feel no need to articulate it, because it’s their way of life. Like breathing.

Mushrooms tf

When we lived in Denmark, and now when we return to visit, a frequent outing was to my sister and brother-in-law’s farm in the countryside. Each visit culminated in a family dinner based on food harvested from their property. The last meal we shared with them went something like this:

It began with homemade salumi made of venison and duck hunted from the nearby forest.  As we nibbled on the lean slices of salami, my brother-in-law went outside to harvest bucketloads of crayfish from their lake. He returned with a dripping basket teaming with crustaceans. In one arm he cradled giant porcini mushrooms the size of tennis balls, which he had spotted growing by a grove of trees on the way to the dock. In the meantime, after I had rather naively inquired as to whether there was a salad I could help make, my sister-in-law returned from her garden where she went to gather her daily harvest of vegetables. She profusely apologized that she did not have any lettuce, while she heaved her basket on to the table. It toppled to the side, spilling out its contents, a free form cornucopia of heirloom tomatoes, chard, new potatoes, red potatoes, yellow carrots, crab apples, garlic, zucchini, crookneck squash, red onions and grapes. She declared that this was only one day’s worth of a harvest. It should all be eaten, since there would be just as much to harvest tomorrow. So, we got cooking.
Crayfish plate

The porcinis were cleaned, sliced, and dressed with olive oil and salt. I made a salad of colorful heirloom tomatoes, red onion and chard; potatoes were roasted in olive oil and garlic; apples and carrots were sliced and put in lemon water for the children; we sautéed the zucchini and crookneck squash; the crayfish were boiled and cooled; homemade bread was warmed and sliced; the table was laid while we gamely tried to find room for all the plates and food. As we tucked into our meal, my brother-in-law told us to save some space for the pigeon and duck he had braising in the oven that he was eager for us to taste, adding that he had saved the largest porcini mushroom for a cream sauce which would accompany the birds.

This was a delicious, abundant meal created from food hunted or grown on the property. The further beauty of it was that there was no need for a written recipe. Each dish reflected the main ingredient, either cooked or raw, enhanced with salt, pepper, some olive oil, perhaps a little vinegar and lemon or a simple sauce. It was delicious and sating – a feast for a king despite our hosts’ humble means.

I still have so much to learn.

Heirloom Tomato and Chard Salad with Red Onions and Basil

Serves 4-6.

2 pounds assorted baby heirloom tomatoes, sliced or halved, depending on size
2 cups mixed red and green chard leaves, stems removed
2 small red onions, peeled, thinly sliced
1 cup purple and green basil leaves, stems removed
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Arrange tomatoes in the center of a serving platter, alternating colors. Arrange chard leaves around the edge of the platter. Top tomatoes and chard with red onion slices. Garnish with basil leaves. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Skillet Chicken with Rice and Vegetables

Chicken Rice Vegetables

“This tastes like chicken soup without the soup,” declared my daughter as she tucked into a weeknight dinner of chicken and rice.  It was cool and cloudy outside, an unusual event in Northern California, where any rain in September warrants breaking news on the television.  As many of you know, I am a New England girl at heart.  Even when I was living in Europe for nearly 2 decades, I managed to end up in countries and regions where fog, rain, and cold weather featured prominently in the weather report, and I didn’t mind at all.  I married a Dane whose country prides itself on its dismal weather 9 months of the year.  Autumn weather brings out the best in my mood.  The finicky, blustery, invigorating climate sends me outdoors for cool fresh air and the spray of rain and then back inside for cozy clothes, warm fires and comfort food.  Inclement weather, to me, is like the proverbial other shoe to drop.  It balances out the sunshine and warmth of summer, and shows off the other side of Mother Nature.

So, now that I find myself living in California, otherwise known as the land of eternally blue skies and incessantly bright sunshine, I must seize my fall moments when I can.  This brings me to Chicken with Rice and Vegetables.  Due to the wild and unexpected display of crazy weather and freakish nature last week in Marin County (a.k.a. sprinkles and clouds) I embraced that other shoe, so to speak.  After taking a brisk run outside in the forest, I lit a fire in our fireplace, donned fluffy houseshoes and a fleece pullover, and proceeded to make a cozy one pot dish for a family dinner.  The result was what I would consider a compliment in the comfort food category by my daughter and an apt description of this homey skillet chicken and rice dish.  The other result was the hot flashes I experienced due to overdressing in fleece and fluff for the 10 F.  temperature drop in the air outside.

One Pot Chicken

Chicken with Rice and Vegetables
Mild and comforting, this is food that will please children and adults alike.The results will be more dry like a paella, not a stew.

Serves 4-6

4 large chicken breasts, with skin
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 carrots, cut in 1/4″ slices
2 celery ribs, cut in 1/2″ slices
1 poblano pepper, or green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, cut in 1/2″ pieces
2 vine ripe tomatoes, halved, stem and seeds removed, cut in chunks
1 teaspoon dried thyme, or 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 turkish bay leaf
1 1/2 cups long grain rice
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup shelled peas or frozen peas
Thyme sprigs for garnish

Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper.  Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add chicken skin-side down.  Cook until golden brown, about 4 minutes.  Turn and cook 2 more minutes.  Remove from skillet and set aside on plate.
Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to skillet.  Add onion and sauté until tender over medium heat, 2 minutes.  Add garlic and sauté one minute.  Add carrots, celery, pepper.  Sauté until colors brighten and vegetables begin to soften slightly, 2 minutes.  Stir in tomatoes, thyme, oregano, bay leaf, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper.  Add rice and cook, stirring, one minute.  Add stock.  Return chicken to pot and arrange in one layer over rice and vegetables.  Cover, reduce to simmer, and cook until chicken is cooked through, 12-15 minutes.  Remove chicken from skillet.  Place on plate and tent with foil to keep warm.
Add peas to rice, cover and continue to cook until rice is tender, approximately 5-8 more minutes.  Add additional salt and pepper, to taste.  Fluff rice and vegetables with a fork and return chicken to skillet.  Garnish with fresh thyme sprigs and serve.

Grilled Ratatouille Salad

Grilled Ratatouille

Grilled Salad?  You bet. This version of ratatouille is perfect in the summer when the season is lobbing a kaleidescope of Provençal vegetables our way. Instead of simmering eggplant, squash, onions and peppers with tomatoes on the stove in the traditional Niçoise fashion, try grilling all of them on the barbeque.  Bright, colorful, and pleasantly charred, this salad is a healthy, summery side dish or salad.  Serve as an accompaniment to grilled meats and fish or as a smoky, crunchy stand-alone salad with crusty pain paysan. Alternatively, head further south in the Mediterranean for inspiration: Add feta cheese and kalamata olives to the grilled vegetables for a twist on Greek salad.

Grilled Ratatouille Salad
Serves 6 as a side dish

2-3 bamboo skewers

1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
1 large, firm eggplant/aubergine, cut horizontally in 1/2″ thick slices
2 large red onions, cut horizontally in 1/2″ thick slices
2 thin zucchini/courgettes, halved lengthwise
2 thin yellow squash, halved lengthwise
2 red peppers, halved, seeded, stems removed
1 poblano pepper, halved, seeded, stem removed

Extra-virgin olive oil
1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 garlic cloves minced
1 small bunch Italian parsley leaves, stems removed, chopped
1 small bunch basil leaves, ripped in half
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Soak skewers 30 minutes before grilling.  Preheat grill or oven. Thread tomatoes on skewers.  Arrange all the vegetables and tomato skewers on a large baking sheet.  Lightly drizzle with olive oil, and toss to coat thoroughly.  Sprinkle with salt.  Grill vegetables on barbeque until nicely browned and just cooked through. (Or grill in one layer in oven, turning once.)

Allow vegetables to cool slightly. Remove tomatoes from skewers and place in large bowl. Cut eggplant, onions, zucchini, squash and peppers in 1″ pieces. Add to bowl with tomatoes.  Toss vegetables with 2-3 tablespoons olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, parsley, basil.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve warm or at room temperature, garnished with extra parsley and basil leaves.