There’s nothing like turning your bounty from a trip to the farmer’s market into a delicious, fresh and healthy grilled meal. Earlier this summer I spent some pleasant time browsing the various farm stands at London’s Covent Garden Market, chatting with farmers and selecting produce simply based on what pleased my eye. The colours were so vibrant and appealing, I knew they would lead me to the perfect dish to showcase the goodness of these vegetables.
Once home, I realized that my purchases, combined with other produce I had on hand, would sing harmoniously in a grilled vegetable salad. With chickpeas added for protein, a lemony dressing for brightness and a handful of chopped herbs from my garden for freshness, plus the extra flavour that comes from grilling, this salad was a meal unto itself along with some crusty bread. As a side dish it would complement either grilled meat or other vegetarian offerings like these satisfying lentil cakes.
The Culinary Enthusiast and I each took a break from the interests we were absorbed in (for me, blogging, and for him, lavishing attention on his boat) to join each other on the veranda for this light and fresh lunch. We enjoyed the added excitement of watching squirrels chase each other up and around the big oak tree. There’s always something entertaining going on when you look at life through the kitchen window!
Grilled Vegetable Salad with Chickpeas
This is a very versatile dish. The ingredients depend on what’s in season and what looks good at the market, as well as what you like. Don’t like eggplant? Leave it out! Want some more heat? Add some minced red chile pepper! It’s your salad, after all. Here’s how I made it this time, but next time, who knows?
- 1 baby eggplant, cubed
- 1 green zucchini, quartered lengthwise & cut into thick slices
- 1 large pattypan squash, cubed
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 2 small onions, sliced 1/4 inch thick
- small bunch green beans, cut about 1-1/2 inches long
- 1-1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
- 2 medium tomatoes (I used 1 each yellow and red), diced
- zest and juice of a medium-sized lemon
- slightly more olive oil than lemon juice
- large clove garlic, cut into chunks
- 1 tsp cumin
- freshly ground pepper
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- handful fresh herbs (I used thyme, basil, flat leaf parsley and 1 big leaf of sage), chopped
Add the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, cumin, pepper and salt to a small bowl, stir well and set aside to let the flavours develop while you chop the eggplant, zucchini, pattypan squash, red pepper and onions. Cut softer, more tender vegetables into larger pieces and firmer produce into smaller pieces to help ensure they cook evenly on the grill. Place the vegetables in a large bowl, pour the dressing over and stir well.
Blanche the beans in boiling water for about 4 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water until cool and set aside. Also set aside the chopped tomatoes, herbs and chickpeas.
Heat the barbecue with a vegetable grilling pan on it. When hot, add the vegetables, keeping any residual dressing. Grill over medium high heat, turning occasionally for about 15 minutes. Add the beans and continue grilling until the vegetables are cooked to the texture you desire (done, but still with some toothsomeness to them). Add the tomatoes and turn a few times to ensure they are heated through, then scoop all the vegetables into the bowl with the remaining dressing. Add the chickpeas and chopped herbs and stir well. Adjust the seasoning as required before serving.