It’s the weekend and the sun is out in Victoria! Woo Hoo! You know what that means, right? It’s officially BBQ Season, and this year is gonna be different – I plan to ROCK IT HARD whenever we go to backyard cookouts, not like in my shameful past – Let me explain:
You know those times when you’re invited out for a BBQ, and everyone is asked to bring a salad or appetizer? Other than the host’s incredible entrée’s (No, really – they are usually incredible – marinated lamb chops, New York steaks to boneless, skinless chicken marinated in red wine – fantastic!) I’ve found most of the “guest” contributions to these impromptu buffets are usually lacklustre, consisting of the same tired offerings we’ve seen at years of backyard get-togethers; so let’s right this injustice, right here, right now, by bringing some “Wow” to the picnic tables of suburbia.
And for the record, I’m not being all “high and mighty” and dumping all over everyone else’s efforts, (store bought cheese and crackers anyone?) because I too, have been guilty of showing up unimaginative starters in the past, something that stopped last summer after my BBQ contribution was mocked and ridiculed the time my host looked at my (usual) proud offering and said “Wow, David… Greek Salad with Rotini again? What a HUGE surprise!” With that one smug comment, I knew that somewhere, a salad angel lost his wings because of me… oh the shame! It turns out I was just as guilty as all those guys I’d been making fun of who bring dull, boring offerings to their own friend’s backyard cookouts. The embarrassment was almost too much to bear, and I tackled it head on by consuming several cocktails. When my senses finally numbed, I vowed right then and there to change my “salad history” once and for all…then passed out in the half eaten ambrosia salad left on my plate.
A couple of weeks after that horrific incident when my salad and I were bitch-smacked, our host called up and taunted me with his usual insidious chant: “What are you guys doing Sunday?” I knew this was my opportunity for culinary redemption and to put an end to my public humiliation involving vegetables, and had a cunning plan to end this vicious cycle of cookout ridicule. In fact, my goal was to unveil a new and exciting salad that will blow all those other salads (including the dreaded “5 packs for a dollar” noodle salads) out of the water once and for all!
The plan was simple: Debut my latest culinary masterpiece – a Mediterranean Grilled Vegetable Salad – and if this culinary bit of fabulous-ness doesn’t gob-smack my host, then I’ll resort to “Plan B” which involves plying him heavily with booze and continue lying about my salad prowess. So without further adieu, allow me tout my latest culinary masterpiece… wish me luck!
Ingredients / Vegetables
- 1 Eggplant
- 1 Red Onion
- 1 Zucchini
- 2 Medium Tomatoes
- 3 Peppers, all different colours
- 6 Big Mushrooms
- 3 Cloves Fresh Garlic
- 3oz Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2oz Dijon or Grainy Mustard
- Pinch of Salt and Pepper
- 2 Pinches Dried Spice Mix that you like (i.e.: “Greek” or “Italian Herb”)
- 1 -2 oz Lemon Juice
- 1 bunch Cilantro
Step 1 / Marinade Prep
Simple: put all ingredients except salt and pepper in a blender or chopper and whip the living hell out of it; then add the salt and pepper and give it one more quick “jolt” to mix it in. The finished marinade should still be a bit runny, but if you think it’s too thick just add a bit more lemon; if it’s fine and tastes good, let it sit. If you want to add a bit more this or that, feel free – this isn’t an exact science, it’s just good cooking.
Step 2 / Vegetable Prep
Slice your eggplants and zucchini so the rings are ½ thick; clean the peppers and cut in 4 pieces, and core the tomatoes. Put everything (plus the whole mushrooms) in a large bowl, one big enough for moving everything around in. Pour the marinade in and mix it up so that all surfaces are thoroughly covered. Go out and turn on the BBQ on high, and if you haven’t cut yourself or dropped anything on the floor, have a drink to celebrate while you are waiting for it to heat up!
Step 3 / Grill Yer Stuff!
Once the BBQ is nice and hot, carefully grill all pieces making sure you are getting awesome grill marks on as many surfaces as possible; these are what make the visuals of this dish look so awesome. Be patient, and do it right until all pieces are still semi-firm, but have the “look” of the grill. Once they are all done put them in the fridge for an hour to cool down.
Step 4 / Cut and Serve
You’re almost there, and don’t worry, all the work will be well worth it! Once your veggies are cooled cut them into 1” – 1 ½” size pieces against the grill mark grains for effect. For example medium sized eggplant slices should be 4 for each round, for a big eggplant you may want to do 6. Mushrooms cut in half, as are Zucchini pieces if they aren’t too huge, but really whatever works for you is fine; did I mention it’s not an exact science? Put all pieces back in a bowl and gentle mix together with 1oz more of extra virgin olive oil, and if you have some handy, a dash of balsamic vinegar makes it even better – but no worries if you don’t have any, it’s still a killer dish! Finally arrange it all on a platter (not bowl if possible) making sure all your gorgeous grill marks are on display, sprinkle with fresh chopped cilantro and voila! You are done! You are ready to wipe out the competition with your amazing culinary feat! And just for reference, here’s how mine turned out. Oh, BTW, this recipe serves 4 – 6 people.
So next time you want to really “wow” someone with your salad prowess, whether it’s for a BBQ or just a fancy-schmanzy dinner for that “special someone”, try this recipe and I promise you’ll hit one out of the park! Also note that these make a great vegetable directly hot off the grill as well – Bon Appetite, and don’t forget to tell them where you got the recipe!
Have you ever had a salad / dish at a BBQ that was so amazing you truly wanted the recipe? If so, would you share it with our community? Thanks!