In my meat-centric world, vegetables create some semblance of balance but are rarely lusted after like a chunk of slow smoked pork or a well seared steak. But there's something about grilled veggies that I find irresistible. The char from the grill, the caramelization of sugars, and the softened texture of things like squash, onions, eggplant, and peppers.
So, I wonder why it took me so long to put these all together into a grilled interpretation of ratatouille.
Grilling each vegetable (and fruit, if you want to get technical), dicing them, and then finishing them with a dressing of herbed white balsamic created a medley of flavors and textures. Creamy eggplant, sweet and sharp onions, and acidic tomatoes all mixed with tangy vinegar and fresh herbs to create an excellent early taste of spring.
- 1/4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 2 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
- 3 teaspoons freshly minced garlic (about 3 medium cloves)
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil leaves
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh marjoram leaves
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 3 roma tomatoes, halved lengthwise
- 1 large zucchini, quartered lengthwise
- 1 large yellow squash, quartered lengthwise
- 1 medium globe eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch rounds
- 1 large yellow onion, cut into 1/2-inch rounds and skewered horizontally
- 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and halved
- 1 yellow bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and halved
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Type of fire: Direct
- Grill heat: medium-high
In a small bowl whisk together 2 tablespoons oil, vinegar, garlic, basil, marjoram, and thyme. Season with salt and pepper to taste; set aside.
Place tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant, onion, and bell peppers on a large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle remaining 1/4 cup oil over vegetables and season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss to thoroughly coat vegetables in oil and seasoning.
Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over entire surface of coal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Place vegetable slices on grill and cooked until browned on both sides, about 3 minutes per side for zucchini, squash, and eggplant, about 5 minutes per side for tomatoes, onion, and peppers. Transfer vegetables to cutting board and cut into large dice.
Transfer vegetables to a large bowl, pour in herb vinaigrette and toss to combine. Serve immediately while warm or at room temperature.