You can add a delicious spin to this classic group of Mediterranean flavours by grilling the vegetables instead of stewing them. For bright bursts of flavour I like to add lots of fresh aromatic basil leaves too. Next time you fire up your grill try preparing this recipe first, it’s the perfect side dish for grilling season. What a great way to fill half your plate with vegetables and all your plate with grilled flavour!
Yield: 4 to 6
6 roma tomatoes, halved lengthwise
4 zucchini, halved lengthwise
2 red onions, halved at the equator, trimmed at the poles and peeled
2 red bell peppers, halved and seeded
1 eggplant, halved lengthwise
1/4 cup (60 mL) of extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) of salt
Lots of freshly ground pepper
2 heads of garlic
1 lemon, halved
The leaves from 1 or 2 big bunches of basil
Prepare and preheat your grill to its highest setting.
Prep the vegetables. Brush or rub them with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Trim the tops from the garlic heads, rub with a bit of olive oil, then wrap each tightly in aluminum foil.
Grill the vegetables. Start with the eggplant and garlic, which take the longest. Nestle the garlic to one side of your grill along with the eggplant positioned skin side down. After 10 minutes or so, add the tomatoes, zucchini, red onion, red peppers and lemon halves. Cook until the vegetables are tender and lightly charred, flipping everything but the eggplant and tomatoes.
Remove everything from the grill. Roughly chop the tomatoes, zucchini, red onion and red peppers into a large serving bowl. Scoop the flesh of the eggplant from the skin and roughly chop, adding it to the other vegetables. Unwrap the garlic and squeeze out the softened garlic cloves into a small bowl. Squeeze in the lemon juice, stir together and pour over the vegetables. At the last second add the fresh aromatic basil leaves and toss the works together. Serve and share!
This classic salad has come a long way since its 1924 invention by Caesar Cardini at his Tijuana restaurant. It’s now found on virtually every menu in the country - at home and in restaurants. Since there are as many ways to make it as there are cooks, I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about authenticity, just flavour. Here’s my version.