Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Grilled Marinated Vegetables with a surprise serving suggestion.

John is by the vegetable buffet in Palermo. A buffet, but the management wouldn't let you self serve. We love this at a little Sicilian place near Trajan's Column in Rome, and at: Alla Madonna in Venice. You see them all over Italy.

I love veggies when I go to Italy. That is quite a feat since I hated so many of the vegetables common to the Italian table most of my youth. As I have said elsewhere, eggplant still leaves me a little cold. Some of my objections have gone away since I realized that much of what I disliked was the texture of the veggies I had been served. I overcame my objections by slicing veggies like Zucchini and Eggplant much thinner than I remember from home. Also a flavorful marinade covers some of the strong flavors that I sometimes object to and the very bland veggies like eggplant. Also, If you use small or baby vegetables, the final dish can be much higher in quality.(Try whole tiny vegetables or green beans and baby carrots.) Zucchini is better, for me, if it is still crisp. Once I addressed all of my issues, I am much happier with the vegetables that I have always shied away from.

Pair this with a roast of Beef, Pork, Chicken or Turkey(I love Pork Tenderloins marinated with Rosemary, garlic and Balsamic Vinegar cut into medallions). This or Salami and other Italian meats can make a whole party! Don't forget a nice wine!


Small Zucchinis sliced the long way about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Larger ones should be cut across the squash. Do not invite me if you are serving yellow squash...YUK!

Eggplant cut as above. Mix colors as available for more interest. Layer salt and eggplant slices in a colander and put a plate on top to weigh the slices down. Allow to drain for an hour or so; rinse and dry.

Slice large white or yellow onions into wedges after peeling, leaving a bit of the root end connecting the leaves together, or in 1/2 inch slices across. Run a toothpick through the edge to the center to hold the rings together.

Cut large tomatoes in horizontal thirds. Pull the seeds out with the tip of your finger. Drain for a minute.

Wedge endive heads or half heads of escarole. Bundle other Italian greens together and grill as a bouquet.

Try winter squash wedges with the skin still attached.

Pour a puddle of olive oil in a plate and lay each vegetable slice into the puddle, turn and remove to a storage container. Sprinkle the layers of veggies with pepper. Add a dusting of dried oregano, basil, rosemary or mint. Choose only one. And sprinkle with finely minced garlic cloves. Do not use bottled garlic for this as it will spend some time at a neutral temperature which will encourage spoilage.

When all the veggies are oiled, etc., cover and allow to sit at room temperature or in the refrigerator to marinate for an hour or more.

Your first choice for grilling is charcoal or wood reduced to coals. You may also choose a gas grill, a stove top, counter top or Panini grill.

Grill the slices briefly just till tender and each displays nice grill marks. You do not want mush!

Remove to serving trays, arranging them beautifully in separate piles or on separate plates. Sprinkle with sea salt or other salt of your choice, and drizzle with the best olive oil you can muster.

Serve at room temperature with plenty of fresh bread or grilled bread rubbed with a cut clove of garlic.

Peppers of any color should be grilled whole till the skin is black and blistered. Place in a paper bag to steam for a while, then scrape the skin off and remove the stem and core. Slice or tear the pepper apart top to bottom in one inch slices or along the lobes of the pepper. Dress with oil and the marinade as above but do not grill.

Decorate the plates with olives and shavings of Parmesan or other grating cheese.

You may also sprinkle with sugar during the marinading, and dress the final display with red wine, lemon or balsamic vinegar. Capers and toasted pine or other nuts are a nice decoration.

Try frying bread crumbs in oil and garlic till golden and sprinkling on the vegetables.


Serve the grilled vegetables arranged around the rim of a large plate. Fill the center with bitter dressed greens and top the greens with a couple of slices of the grilled bread. Grill a disk of goat cheese till grill marked and just warmed through. Lay on top of the bread alone or with a grilled or poached egg. What a meal!

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