We love our grill marks don’t we? Whether you are a charcoal or wood-burning purist seeking that elusive perfect heat and glow, or content to turn up the gas and get cooking fast, it’s that sizzling stripe of Maillard Reaction, that chemical alchemy that gives us a concentration of crisp, that browned smokey flavor, that we are after. We’ll even use a hard-to-clean and clunky indoor grill pan if we have to, to get it in the dark days of winter. But let’s not think about that sorry indoor substitute for some good old grilled flavor right now. We are in the height of grilling season! Let’s just slice up an assortment of vegetables and get grilling.
I saw a simple, yet mouth-watering recipe for a cherry tomato vinaigrette in a recent issue of Bon Appétit and folded down the corner, as I always do when I see something I want to try. Do I always get to these recipes? No, but as was the case with this one, it popped into my head as I was cooking something else, and I thought “how good would that be mixed up with this?” Thus my grilled vegetables will be forever changed for the better, doused with juicy, tangy, sweet and warmed-to-bursting tomatoes.
Halve most of the grape tomatoes so they release their juices quickly when you warm them. Here’s a fun trick I saw this week for cutting grapes or tomatoes by the batch. My students know, I love any tips or tricks that make prep easier, or cooking more efficient, so try this one and decide for yourself if you think it saves time and effort. (I’m on the fence about it, but let me know below in the comments section what you think!) Warm a little olive oil in a pan, soften some diced shallot, add the tomatoes, smashing them lightly as they soften and sweat. Take them off the heat, season and add red wine vinegar and fresh herbs. Done in minutes.
For grilling the vegetables, keep it simple because you want their charred goodness to shine, and the vinaigrette will bring all the added flavor you need. Just cut the vegetables so they are substantial enough to withstand the grilling: too thin and they’ll stick and burn quickly, too thick and they will not be tender all the way through before they burn on the outside. Season liberally and generously with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, drizzle with olive oil and combine to coat all slices.
I put the sweet potatoes and thickly cut cauliflower on the grill together because they have a similar density and cook time. Likewise with the zucchini and asparagus. I like to use a medium-high heat for grilling veg, and close the cover on the grill while they are cooking ( few minutes each side) to help them “bake” a bit and get tender on the inside.
And now an already gorgeous array of grilled vegetables is about to get itself elevated to pretty, and smart. (and crazy delicious.)
Put it out this way for impact, but I’d go ahead and toss it so all the juicy goodness coats every slice just before serving.
I like to make a big batch of veggies to last me a week or so in the fridge. I can eat it as a quick side with anything, chop them up for a salad or omelette, put them on a piece of toast slathered with avocado or eat just like this. I filled a plate and crumbled a little sheep’s feta on the side. I did not have a crisp cold glass of Sauvignon Blanc with it, in the height of the day, for God’s sake! What am I European? Do I have time for naps? No. But I thought about it.
- yield: 1 1/2 cups
Cherry/Grape Tomato Vinaigrette
adapted from Alison Roman, Bon Appétit magazine, June 2013
Note: I doubled the recipe for the amount shown in pictures above. It was a big batch of veggies!
1 pint cherry tomaties
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
1 tablespoon (or more to taste) red wine vinegar
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons chopped, fresh chives or other herb of choice
Cut about half of the cherry tomatoes in half, leaving others whole. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a medium saucepan. Add the shallot and cook, stirring often, until softened, but not browned. About 4 minutes.
Add halved and whole tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to release juices, 4–6 minutes. Mash some of tomatoes with a spoon. Continue to cook and stir another minute. Remove from heat.
Add 1 tablespoon vinegar and remaining 2 tablespoons oil; season with salt and pepper. Serve warm or room temperature; add chives just before serving.
DO AHEAD: Vinaigrette can be made (without herbs) 2 days ahead. Cover and chill. When ready to serve, bring to room temperature and stir in herbs/chives.
SERVING SUGGESTION: The vinaigrette can be used to dress salads, or served with meats hot off the grill, or add to pasta or any grain for a quick summer salad.