Thursday, July 5, 2012

Posted from CaliforniaOliveRanch.com


Vegetables and Sides

Grilled Vegetables

in the Style of 

Santa Margherita



Chef's Note: After two grueling weeks on the barbecue trail, the town of Santa Margherita on the Italian Riviera appeared like an oasis in the desert. Imagine a spectacularly craggy cove surrounding a harbor filled with bobbing yachts and fishing boats. Trompe l’oeil painted houses. Caf├ęs crowded with chic young Italians. Come lunchtime, it was impossible to ignore a buffet served on a bluff overlooking the bay—especially the centerpiece of that buffet, an enormous platter of grilled vegetables. 
In keeping with the Italian understatement when it comes to grilling, the vegetables were cooked without the benefit of a marinade and with only a drizzle of olive oil and squirt of lemon juice by way of a sauce. But I guarantee you’ll never taste better grilled vegetables, nor feast your eyes on a prettier platter. Use the following ingredient list as a starting point, substituting whatever vegetables look freshest.
Special Equipment: Vegetable grate (optional)
  • 2 medium-size red bell peppers
  • 2 medium-size yellow bell peppers
  • 2 Belgian endives
  • 1 pound fresh cremini or regular white mushrooms, stemmed, caps wiped clean with dampened paper towels
  • 4 small eggplants or zucchini
  • 1/2 cup California Olive Ranch extra-virgin olive oil
  • Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound thick asparagus, fibrous ends removed
  • 8 small ripe tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (optional)
  • 8 lemon wedges, for serving
Core, halve, and seed the red and yellow bell peppers, then cut each pepper in half lengthwise into 3 strips. Cut the endives lengthwise in quarters, leaving the stem ends attached. Cut the mushrooms in half and the eggplants in half lengthwise.
Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat to high.
When ready to cook, preheat a vegetable grate (if using) for 5 minutes, then brush and oil it or the grill grate. Lightly brush the bell pepper pieces with some of the olive oil, season them with salt and black pepper to taste, and arrange them on the hot grate. Grill the bell peppers until lightly charred on both sides, leaving the skins intact, 4 to 6 minutes per side. Brush the bell peppers lightly with olive oil and season them with salt and black pepper once or twice as they grill. Transfer the bell peppers to a platter. Leave the fire burning.
Oil, season, and grill the endives, mushrooms, eggplants, asparagus, and tomatoes the same way as the bell peppers. Each vegetable should be nicely charred on the outside and soft and tender inside; depending on the vegetable, this will take 3 to 6 minutes per side. Brush all of the vegetables lightly with olive oil and season them with salt and black pepper once or twice as they grill.
Arrange the grilled vegetables in rows on a platter, varying the colors and shapes. Drizzle the remaining olive oil on top of the hot vegetables and let cool.
Just before serving, season the vegetables again with salt and pepper. If you like, drizzle a little balsamic vinegar on top. Serve lemon wedges on the side for squeezing over the vegetables.
Recipe credit: The Barbecue! Bible, by Steven Raichlen (Workman Publishing, 2008)

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