Friday, May 30, 2008

Grilled vegetable salad

The keywords for this salad are things like "bounty" and "variety" and "creativity." Go to your farmers market and peruse the vegetables--I found early summer squash, baby zucchini and sweet Vidalia onions. There were also beautiful lettuces of all varieties and gorgeous English cucumbers. Non-farmer's market salad additions included grape tomatoes (although there are some locally grown hot house tomatoes available already), pine nuts, goat cheese and big cremini mushrooms. Assemble whatever your beautiful farmer's market veggies might be, slice them up and grill them after a bath in a simple marinade. Lay out over dressed greens, sprinkle with whatever accoutrements catch your fancy, and enjoy! Here's my version of this improvisational salad...

First prep all your vegetables. I used 1 small zucchini and 2 small yellow crookneck squash. Slice the zucchini in half through the middle and then slice the pieces into half-moon chunks and then into long batons. Or you can just cut them into rounds if you want. Slice the yellow squash into diagonal slices of about 1/2" width each. Place the zucchini and squash slices aside in a large bowl. Get your big sweet onion and slice into thick rounds, then place in the bowl as well. Find some big cremini mushrooms and slice them in half. If they aren't so big, just leave them whole. Put the mushrooms into the large bowl with the other veggies and cover everything with a simple marinade. I used 5 tablespoons olive oil mixed with 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Mix the veggies up well and let them marinate for at least 30 minutes to an hour. Get your grill revved up and lay out your vegetables over medium heat, turning them often and moving them around so they don't burn up. The mushrooms will get all shrively and delicious and the squash/zucchini should get yummy looking grill marks all over. As each vegetable finishes cooking (this is pretty much an eyeballing thing--mine took about 15-20 minutes all together), remove it to a plate and set aside. Meanwhile, in a big salad bowl, mix up your greens with a sliced cucumber, halved grape tomatoes and a simple vinegrette. I made mine with the juice from one lemon shaken together with 3 tablespoons olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. That's it! After all your vegetables are grilled up, toss them very lightly with the dressed green salad and top with crumbled goat cheese and toasted pine nuts. Oh, you will be one happy camper.

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