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Grilled Vegetable Salad

Adapted from Big Night In by Domenica Marchetti

Serves 8 to 10

For the dressing:

  • 3 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, or to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

For the grilled vegetables:

  • 1 (1-pound) eggplant, cut crosswise into 3/4-inch-thick slices
  • Kosher or sea salt, to taste
  • Vegetable oil or high-heat cooking spray for greasing the grill grate
  • 2 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise
  • 2 yellow crookneck squash, halved lengthwise
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 green bell pepper, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 medium-to-large red onions, quartered
  • 2 dozen large button mushrooms, ends trimmed
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • Wooden skewers, soaked for 30 minutes in cold water and drained
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves

1. To make the dressing: Combine the vinegars, garlic, salt and black pepper in a bowl and whisk to combine. Slowly whisk in the oil to achieve an emulsified dressing. Cover with plastic wrap and let the flavors blend while you prepare the vegetables.

2. Layer the eggplant slices in a colander in the sink and sprinkle salt over each layer. Place a plate over the slices and weigh them down with a heavy object. Let the eggplant drain for 30 to 60 minutes. Wipe the slices dry with paper towels.

3. Prepare a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill to medium-high. Brush the grate with vegetable oil or spray with high-heat cooking spray.

4. Brush both sides of the eggplant, zucchini, and yellow squash with olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Skewer the peppers, onions, mushrooms and tomatoes separately to ensure they will cook properly. Brush the skewered vegetables liberally with olive oil and season them with salt and pepper.

5. Place the eggplant, zucchini and yellow squash on the grill grate and grill, turning frequently, about 12 minutes for the yellow squash, 15 minutes for the zucchini and 17 minutes for the eggplant, or until they are charred here and there on the outside and softened somewhat but still a little firm. Transfer the eggplant and squashes to a platter or baking dish.

6. Place the skewered vegetables on the grill grate and grill, turning frequently, about 5 minutes for the tomatoes, 10 minutes for the mushrooms and 14 to 15 minutes for the onions and peppers. The vegetables should be charred in places on the outside and softened somewhat, but still a little firm. Remove the vegetables from the grill as they finish cooking and place them on a large platter. Set the platters of vegetables near a cutting board.

7. Cut the eggplant disks into quarters, and cut the zucchini and yellow squashes crosswise into 1-inch pieces. Place them in a bowl large enough to hold all of the grilled vegetables. Remove the skewered vegetables from the skewers. Cut the peppers into bite-size pieces, and cut the mushrooms into quarters. Put them in the bowl, along with the onions and tomatoes. Scatter the chopped basil over the vegetables.

8. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and fold gently to combine. Taste and adjust the seasoning with additional salt and pepper if necessary. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 30 to 60 minutes, or refrigerate the salad until thoroughly chilled and serve cold.

Note: This salad is best prepared several hours or up to a day in advance so the vegetables take on the flavor of the dressing.

Next: Creole ham, sausage and shrimp jambalaya. »

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