Oh, summer! Long days, lots of sunshine, meetings with friends, picnics and BBQs, potlucks! There is so much produce that is in season, so whatever you cook from it is bound for success.
Unfortunately, the summer of 2020 is completely different and having a BBQ with friends in the open air is out of the question.. Never have I even envied home owners more!
There is this grilled summer salad that I love so much. It is perfect, it is best served warm or at room temperature (and let’s be honest, in summertime the room temperature is usually quite warm, so it’s a win-win). It includes seasonal produce (hello amazing rich flavors) and is fairly easy to put together.
The usual steps would be to grill the veggies till they are blistered and tender, peel and chop them, toss in some greens and oil and enjoy. But how do we go about grilling when there is no grill around? Oven to the rescue! I know that cranking up the the oven doesn’t seem like something you’d want to do in the middle of a scorching hot summer day, so maybe wait until it’s a little cooler outside, cook veggies the night before and assemble everything the next day? It’s your call. Either way, the result will be worth it.
Looking at the ingredients you might think to yourself “An entire head of garlic?! That’s crazy!”. Worry not! Roasting will turn garlic into creamy, almost sweet and very aromatic paste with none of the sharp and pungent flavors of the raw garlic. Still have doubts? Get a smaller head of garlic for your first try and change it later, because I know you will make it again. It is seriously delicious.
*You will need to remove the skin from the vegetables after cooking. The best way to do that is to place them into an airtight container first (I use a dutch oven, but any pot with a heavy lid or even a ziplock back would work here), the residual heat and steam will help skin to detach from the vegetables and you will be able to peel it off in no time.
**One more trick is to put a parchment lined baking tray at the bottom of the oven, to keep all possible juices dripping from the vegetables away from your precious oven, because who needs extra cleanup?
Faux-Grilled Summer Salad with Eggplants and Sweet Paprika Peppers
- 3 medium eggplants
- 3 big red paprika peppers
- 1 medium head of garlic
- 1 medium bunch of fresh dill
- 1 medium bunch of fresh parsley
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 220C.
- Wash vegetables and greens, pat dry.
- Pierce eggplants around with a fork.
- Slice a thin layer off the top of the garlic head, just so you can see all the cloves. Wrap the garlic head tightly in aluminum foil.
- Place covered garlic on a baking tray lined with parchment paper, place the tray on the bottom rack of the oven.
- Place a wire rack above the baking tray, place eggplants and peppers on the wire rack.
- Roast for 30 minutes, until peppers look charred and tender. After 30 min remove peppers from the oven and place in a heavy lid pot (airtight container / ziplock bag).
- Flip eggplants, roast additional 20 min or until feel soft to the touch.
- Remove eggplants and garlic from the oven, place eggplants in a heavy lid pot (airtight container / ziplock bag).
- Wait until the vegetables are cool enough to handle, peel the skin off, additionally remove seeds from peppers, dice everything.
- Foil from garlic, squeeze garlic out of the peel into the bowl with vegetables.
- Remove stalks from dill and parsley, chop finely, add to the vegetables.
- Add lemon juice and olive oil. Season with salt to taste.