Recipe: grilled vegetable salad
Whenever I return from an out-of-town shoot, my friends always ask how it went. That’s partly because most of my friends are outdoorsy types and partly because they genuinely want to know how the shoot was. I always have two parts to my answer: what I thought of the shoot and how I felt about the trip. In general, the shoots are getting consistently better even if the conditions are less than ideal. I consider that to be progress. How I feel about a trip has gone up and down and up and down as I try to strike a balance between pushing hard enough to get the shots and not pushing so hard that I end up hating what I do or worse yet – wearing myself out so that I miss an opportunity.
mount crested butte
elephant head and indian paintbrush
This shoot came closer to that balance for me. Sometimes you need to step back and remind yourself of those things you love about what you do. Jeremy observed me nodding to myself or muttering words of satisfaction on occasion when I felt I had a good capture. It’s a labor of love to lie in the dirt, stand in the pouring rain, suffer the bugs that bite and the plants that stab you. But I do love it and it is totally worth it. I’m settling into a groove now.
my favorite fern understory
jeremy for scale (he’s looking appropriately camo there too)
We saw a second bear at the end of the trip. The first one was out early in the morning. The moment I spotted it, the bear bolted up a hillslope and disappeared into the woods before I could get my camera out. This second bear was out past sunset. It also made haste up the nearest (steep) hillslope, but Jeremy was able to spot it up high as it quickly worked its way through the dense growth of grasses and wildflowers. They are so fast and so quiet!
like watching the fin of a shark crest the water
this bear just wanted to do its own thing
You can view a sampling of the photos from this trip on the photo blog.
I love going on trips and I love coming home. But there is something to be said for eating food that you prepared. No matter how good the food is (and the food in Crested Butte is quite good), I know what I’m putting into my dinner when I cook. Over a month ago several of my SNB gals gathered at Nichole’s house to make wedding favors for Kitt and to, of course, eat. Nichole made a wonderful grilled vegetable salad that some of you had commented on. It didn’t take long before I was craving that salad.
along with onions, garlic, eggplant, and zucchini
It’s a flexible salad so you can futz with the ingredients, the way you cook them, and the dressing you use. Of course, if you don’t grill any of the vegetables, it can’t technically be a grilled vegetable salad – but I will let you deal with that issue. I didn’t grill my tomatoes (even though I love grilled tomatoes) because tomatoes have a habit of shriveling up and slipping down through the grating on my grill and into oblivion. That can be quite upsetting if you wanted to let’s say… eat the tomatoes. Instead, I roasted mine. I also roasted a bulb of garlic while I was running the oven.
a dash of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt
nicely roasted and still juicy
The rest of the vegetables get chopped and tossed together with some olive oil, salt, and pepper. Add herbs or spices as you see fit. I tend to go with simplicity because it’s hard to screw up. Carefully skewer the vegetables. My preference is to thread one type of vegetable on a skewer because different vegetables cook at different rates.
toss the vegetables with oil, salt, and pepper
skewered and ready for the grill
Once the vegetables are grilled, the tomatoes and garlic should be done and cooling. I mashed up the roasted garlic into a rough paste and set it aside to add to the dressing. I suppose you could just as easily toss it in with the rest of the vegetables. As long as it goes into the salad! The tomatoes get quartered and added to the vegetables.
off the skewer and into the mixing bowl
chopping up the roasted garlic
The dressing is whatever you want it to be. Nichole had served her salad with a delightful tahini dressing, but I was out of tahini so I opted for balsamic vinaigrette. It’s quick to whip up.
whisking in oil
don’t forget the roasted garlic
You can pretty much make everything ahead to this point. Then it’s just a matter of adding the dressing and mixing the salad.
pour the dressing over the vegetables
toss to coat
This salad is great warm or cold. I also loved it as leftovers because the flavors soaked into the vegetables so they were slightly pickled, if you will. An excellent way to use up some of those garden vegetables! And if you still have too many vegetables leftover, I’ll gladly take those off your hands :)
summer’s bounty in a bowl
Grilled Vegetable Salad
inspired by my friend Nichole
1 lb. tomatoes
1 bulb garlic
1 sweet onion, trimmed, peeled, and cut into eighths
3 medium zucchini, cleaned, topped, and cut into 1-2 inch pieces (preferably on the diagonal)
1 medium eggplant, cleaned, topped, and cut into 1-inch cubes
black pepper, freshly ground
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar (use less if you want milder – I tend to like a strong acidic vinaigrette)
1/2 tsp sugar
1/3 cup olive oil
Preheat oven to 375°F. Slice the tomatoes in half and arrange in a single layer, skin-side down, on a large baking sheet lined with foil. Drizzle olive oil and a sprinkling of salt over the tomatoes. Cut the top of the garlic bulb off (just enough to expose the tops of the cloves) and set in a small baking dish (ramekin or something else similarly small). Drizzle olive oil over the top of the bulb and cover the dish with foil. Place both the tomatoes and the garlic into the oven for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
While the tomatoes and garlic are roasting, combine the onions, zucchini, and eggplant in a large bowl. Toss with olive oil (I used about 3 tablespoons), salt, and pepper to taste. Skewer the vegetables and grill over medium-high heat until done (about 10 minutes total – be sure to flip halfway). When the vegetables are done, release them into a large bowl. When the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, cut each half into fourths and toss them into the large bowl with the rest of their friends. Remove the garlic cloves from the skins and mash or chop up the garlic meat with a knife.
You can use any dressing you like (Nichole had a lovely tahini dressing with her salad), I happened to have the ingredients for a simple balsamic vinaigrette on hand. For the dressing, combine the balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and sugar to taste in a small bowl. While constantly whisking the liquid, slowly pour a steady and thin stream of olive oil into the bowl until the dressing emulsifies. When it is thick enough to your liking (and also mild enough for your taste), add the mashed roasted garlic and whisk that in too. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and toss to coat. Serves 8 as a side dish.