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finding that groove

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
[print recipe]
inspired by my friend Nichole

1 lb. tomatoes
olive oil
sea salt
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.

28 nibbles at “finding that groove”

  1. Paula says:

    looks so delicious…

    have a nice day,

  2. Simone says:

    I love the photos of your trip and that grilled vegetable salad is just perfect for hot weather such as we are having at the moment. Delicious!

  3. Recipe for Delicious says:

    I could see myself very happy with a bowl of that and some nice crusty bread to scoop it up with. I kept my eyes peeled for bears and moose this weekend when we went hiking, but had no luck. Lucky you, seeing two!

  4. carmen says:

    I can’t believe how good that looks … I would eat a huge bowl of it (even though it’s only 7:30 a.m. here) right now!

  5. LoveFeast Table says:

    I love stopping by your table! It brings me back to the days I fell in love while living in Colorado! And then to find today, such a delicious vegetable medley…you’ll keep me coming back!

  6. Weekly Dinner Menu: 7/12/10 | Food for My Family says:

    […] great to get away, but I adore the hugs and kisses, and I even kind of missed the chaos. Monday – Grilled Vegetable Salad Tuesday – Veggies and Noodles with Thai Coconut Curry Sauce Wednesday – Gluten Free Buckwheat […]

  7. Wei-Wei says:

    This is amazing. I really love roasted anything, and vegetables is not the exception… I think that apart from sweet potatoes (which are a veg anyway), roasted veg is the best roasted thing. Ever.


    PS: Your photos ARE getting consistently better. Amazing how that’s even possible ;)

  8. Susan @ SGCC says:

    What magnificent photos! Although, you already have amazing material to work with, I am always bowled over by your skill and artfulness.

    I was drooling over that salad too. I’m so glad you posted a recipe for it. It looks fab. I am so making this one!

  9. farmerpam says:


  10. Maria says:

    This is my kind of salad. Love it. Beautiful photos too!

  11. brooke says:

    I have been thinking about making a grilled veg salad and this one looks great. mmmm!

  12. marla {family fresh cooking} says:

    Looks like you’ve got your groove with those amazing photos from Crested Butte. I have never been there, but I would love to some day. Great bear sighting.
    Yes, that grilled veggie salad looks wonderful, gotta have that roasted garlic. How about a grill basket with very small holes for those tomatoes? Some might still slip through. Roasting works too!! xxoo

  13. Linda says:

    Stunning photos! Breathtakingly beautiful.

    Grilled veggie salad is my summer staple…Judging by the zuchinni and yellow squash coming in my garden, I will be eating it non-stop for the next month! Too bad my tomatoes are still green….

  14. M @ Betty Crapper says:

    summers in Colorado seem so beautiful through your lens. I love stopping by your blog to see where you’ve been and what you’re eating.

  15. TheKitchenWitch says:

    I love that your salad dressing is equal parts balsamic and olive oil–I like mine that way, too!

  16. Mulan says:

    OMG – I am drooling! Who would have thought a bowl of vegetables could look so good?! xxx

  17. Ashley says:

    Looking at the ingredients, there’s nothing crazy, but that bowl of vegetables and the chopped garlic in the dressing – wow they sound and look amazing!!

  18. Jenny says:

    Hi, my friend forwarded this blog to me, and I really admire your photography and the food articles. Funny thing I noticed is that we both have the same name, first and last (although I always go by Jenny)! I see that you also ski, which’s what I like to do in the winter (just moved to Denver from Salt Lake City, a ski town). Although I didn’t major in Mechanical engineering in college, I majored in Chemical Engineering, and took quite a few classes in ME. Just thought it’s funny how I run into your blog. :)

  19. Ingrid says:

    Love the menu! I will keep visiting your site for sure! :)

  20. Meredith says:

    Hi Jennifer!

    Jason, the kids and I were up near Vail this weekend and we spotted a herd of elk resting on the edge of a meadow – a calf was just learning to bugle!

    Anyway, I thought I’d ask if you thought it might be possible to add a grain to this salad? Jason is well into his Ironman training and I always try to sneak in protein or whole grains wherever I can.

    It looks delicious and I can’t wait to try it!

  21. momgateway says:

    ….your photos are breathtaking too…plus an awesome, healthy and light salad… I’m making this for dinner!

  22. Joy says:

    Great salad, I was trying to make something similar to that but it failed :D

  23. Deliciously Organic says:

    Such beautiful photos of Crested Butte. My husband grew up there (and proposed to me on the peak). I’ll show him this post. He will appreciate the pictures very much b/c he misses his home so much. The salad looks amazing too! A great summer meal.

  24. Nomz says:

    Wow…it looks so delicious! Makes me want to try it now :D

  25. jamie parker says:

    Looks good…what kind of cut is that for the zucchini?

  26. Iman says:

    I just wanted to say that your roasted garlic looks amazing! I’m so envious because I always end up burning mine and it never quite turns out right.

  27. jenyu says:

    Marla – I think CB should be on your list one of these days (just a four hour drive from Telluride) :) Thanks for the tomato tip!

    Jenny – I think you might be the fourth Jen Yu I’ve met ;)

    Meredith – hi! Sorry for the delay in reply – yes, you can totally add a grain to this salad. I say add whatever you like :) Good luck to Jason!

    Deliciously Organic – oh wow, how could anyone who grew up in Crested Butte not miss it?? That place is paradise!

    Jamie – I dunno what you call it. I just cut on the diagonal and then give it a turn and cut on the diagonal again. I use it a lot in Chinese cooking.

  28. Mrs Ergül says:

    With all that vege, it is quite similar to what I do for my summer ratatouille! I think the balsamic works great with this salad!

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