It’s hot. Damn hot. Oh, and did I mention I have no air conditioning?! Yeah…
In scorching weeks like these—if I have an appetite at all—I take as much of my cooking out to my deck as I can manage. To avoid my oven or stovetop, I’ll try pretty much anything on the grill: whole chickens, cakes, eggs. You name it, and it’s likely I’ve tried it. Some with more success than others, ha ha.
Grilled veggies are a staple for us during the summer months. They’re versatile enough that you can eat them hot or cold. And because most vegetables work so well on the grill, it’s a terrific way to taste the variety of beautiful summer produce. The charring adds a depth of flavor you can’t get from other cooking methods. And perhaps best of all, I can get my picky eaters to try (and enjoy) things from the grill that they wouldn’t try otherwise.
This simple salad highlights all the flavors of fresh grilled vegetables, and you can easily adapt it to whatever you have on-hand. Here I use red onion, bell peppers, asparagus, summer squash, mushrooms, and sliced potatoes. Other favorites are radishes, green onions, sweet potatoes, baby carrots (with tops), eggplant, cherry tomatoes, cauliflower, and cabbage wedges.
The main thing to keep in mind is to cut your veggies into roughly the same size pieces so they cook evenly: golden-brown on the outside, tender but not mushy on the inside. Personally, I treat this recipe as more of a main course than a side dish, so I’ll prepare a lot when I make it. A general rule of thumb for me is about ¾ lbs. of veggies per person, but you may opt for less if you’re serving it with other foods. Leftovers are great as is, served either warmed or cold, but you can also toss them in a salad with fresh, crisp greens; add them to a sandwich; use them as a topping for pizza or pasta; or serve them as part of an antipasto plate with fresh raw cheeses, charcuterie, and olives. Yum!
Warm Grilled Vegetable Salad with Balsamic Dressing and Feta
—Note: After absorbing the liquids, the leftovers may be a little dry. Simply drizzle the vegetables with additional olive oil and balsamic vinegar before serving.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 15–25 minutes
2 lbs. red onions, zucchini, potatoes, bell peppers, asparagus, and mushrooms (or other assorted veggies of your choice), cut or sliced per instructions below
Sea salt, cracked pepper, and/or chopped or dried herbs of choice (optional)
2–3 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
- Prepare all veggies: Cut onions into wedges or ½-inch thick slices. Cut zucchini into long ½-inch slices. Cut potatoes into ½-inch thick slices. Slice peppers into halves or quarters. Leave asparagus and mushrooms whole.
- Arrange veggies on baking sheets and drizzle everything with olive oil. Season with salt, pepper, and herbs, if using.
- Preheat grill to high. Grill veggies (in batches, if necessary) until charred and tender. Transfer each batch back to the baking sheets after grilling. Repeat until all veggies have been cooked.
- Cut warm veggies into large, bite-sized pieces. Transfer to a large bowl. Drizzle with lots of balsamic vinegar and toss to combine. The warm veggies will absorb some of the vinegar, so taste and adjust if necessary.
- Divide among plates and sprinkle with feta cheese. Serve warm.
Image from Briana Goodall.