August means we have one more chance to throw a backyard picnic or barbeque before summer ends and the weather turns too cold to eat outside. At my house, it also means the backyard garden is overflowing with ripe, juicy tomatoes, squash, zucchini, and eggplant. Aside from canning and freezing to preserve some of that summer goodness for winter eating, I like to serve the last of the summer veggies at our last summer party.
And nothing could be simpler, or—to my mind—more tasty than a big bowl of grilled summer veggies. They can be served hot off the grill or at room temperature, which makes them a perfect party food.
Grilled Veggie Salad
¾ cup olive oil, plus extra for brushing the veggies
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh herbs (I like to mix basil, parsley, rosemary)
6 red bell peppers, seeded and cut into thick strips
4 yellow squash, sliced lengthwise into ¼″ thick pieces
4 zucchini, sliced lengthwise into ¼″ thick pieces
5 small eggplant, sliced lengthwise into ¼″ thick pieces
2 bunch (about 2 pounds) asparagus, trimmed
10 – 12 baby bella mushrooms, sliced fairly thick
16 scallions or green onions, trimmed
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 – 2 cups crumbled feta cheese (optional)
Combine the ¾ cup of olive oil, ¼ cup balsamic vinegar, garlic, and herbs in a small jar and shake vigorously to blend. Set aside.
Preheat the grill/grill pan over medium-high heat. Brush the vegetables (both sides) with a light coating of olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Working in batches, grill the vegetables until they are tender (easily pierced by the tines of a fork) and lightly charred all over. This will take about 8 – 10 minutes for the bell peppers; 5 – 7 minutes for the yellow squash, zucchini, eggplant, and mushrooms; 3 – 5 minutes for the asparagus and green onions.
The secret to getting visible grill on the strips of veggies is not to them around too much once they’ve been placed on the grill/grill basket. So, if possible, only turn them once.
As each batch of veggies is done, transfer them to a large shallow bowl.
Give the jar of dressing a couple of shakes to make sure it’s blended and pour over the veggies. Add the feta, if using, and toss lightly.
Serves 12 – 15 generously.
As we prepare for the changing of the seasons, visit Shindigz Seasonal Party Page to find exactly the party supplies you need!
Candace Schuler comes from a long line of foodies.Her grandmother taught her about planting, preserving, and cooking whole foods. Her father was a professional chef who taught her all about the importance of presentation and how to cook for big crowds. Her brothers have spent years in the restaurant business, and she and her sister constantly trade recipes via email for everything from fermented fruit kimchee to the perfect cheesecake.
Candace is also a professional writer, which, she says, makes writing about party-worthy recipes for Shindigz the perfect gig. Contact her at www.CandaceSchuler.com