There’s a bumper crop of zucchini in my backyard, blossoms by the bouquet and armfuls of lean, green courgettes. My neighbors upstairs, who tend the garden and summoned this army of vegetables from seed, found themselves slightly outpaced by their success. (Any recipes for zucchini?) So far they’ve mandolined them into raw ribbons for salad, sautéed them with garlic, and I’ve made my zucchini and onion tart. Now that the zucchini’s in, the tomatoes won’t be far behind.
To the rescue: a substantial, gutsy salad heaped with smoky, grilled summer vegetables (plenty of zucchini for everyone!), crumbles of tangy-rich goat cheese and a garlicky vinaigrette. Grilled country bread adds a hearty crunch, and while die-hard meat eaters might throw some chicken sausage or flank steak on the grill to serve alongside, I think most folks will find the salad plenty satisfying as a main course. Serve with a fruity, robust wine (we had a plummy, affordable red blend from Portugal’s Douro region, on our wine guy‘s recommendation) and chocolate pudding for dessert. Bring it on, garden.
Grilled Summer Vegetable Salad
adapted from The Fresh & Green Table by Susie Middleton, 2012; serves two
- one large red bell pepper (3-4 oz)
- one large zucchini (10-11 oz)
- one medium heirloom or slicing tomato
- 1 1/2 C baby arugula
- one generous tablespoon fresh basil, finely chopped
- one large garlic clove, peeled
- one handful goat cheese crumbles (2-3 oz)
- 1/4″ slices of good country bread
- extra-virgin olive oil
- kosher salt
for the dressing:
- handful grape or cherry tomatoes
- 1 scant tablespoon oil-packed, sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon balsamic or red wine vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon honey
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1 scant tablespoon fresh basil, finely chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic, minced
Place the bell pepper, whole, on a clean grill grate and preheat the grill to high. Use tongs to rotate the pepper until it’s evenly blackened all over, about 2 minutes per side. Place the pepper in a small bowl and cover with foil; let steam for 15-20 minutes. Lower the grill to medium.
Meanwhile, slice some of the cherry tomatoes into halves and whisk all the remaining dressing ingredients together in a small bowl. Fold in the fresh tomatoes and set aside.
Slice the zucchini in half, crosswise. Use a vegetable peeler or a sharp paring knife to trim off some of the skin. Stand the zucchini up on your cutting board and slice lengthwise into several planks about 1/4″ thick. Slice the bread. Place the bread and zucchini on a rimmed baking sheet; brush both sides with olive oil and sprinkle the zucchini with a bit of salt.
Hull and thickly slice the whole heirloom tomato into wedges; sprinkle with a little salt and set aside. Peel the blackened skin off the red pepper (it should come off easily) and slice into thick strips, discarding the hull and seeds. Reserve some arugula leaves for garnish and divide the rest between two shallow pasta bowls or plates. Drizzle the arugula with a tablespoon or so of the dressing and toss.
Arrange the bread and zucchini on the grill and close the lid. Grill the bread for 1-2 minutes per side; when done, rub the toasts (both sides) with the peeled garlic clove. Grill the zucchini until nicely marked, about 2-3 minutes per side. Arrange the salad by placing the grilled toast on each plate, then layering the zucchini, red pepper, goat cheese, basil and tomato wedges on top. Garnish with the reserved arugula. Spoon the tomato dressing over the vegetables and serve.
Note: you can prep the red pepper, make the dressing and slice the zucchini a few hours ahead, but it all comes together pretty quickly. Crumble the goat cheese while it’s very cold and reserve until needed.