We're not sure when grilled vegetables first came into fashion as a summer delight, but they sure are popular now. Richard and I were chatting about this and don't remember ever having eaten them when we were kids. It must have dovetailed with the dawning of the barbeque culture, where everyone had their own backyard grill and outdoor entertaining became "a must"! After all, what could be more enticing than taking some of your favorite veggies and grilling them?
Well...it's funny because when I asked Richard about grilled vegetables the first thing he said was that Julia Child hated them! Hard to imagine why, but evidently it's not a vegetable preparation that's embraced in French cooking!
Now that the warmer weather is upon us, we've moved from doing roasted vegetables to grilled vegetables in our store. So what fun it was to watch as Alex cut and prepared all the vegetables for grilling - again a visual extravaganza. After washing all the vegetables, they're cut into 1/4-1/2" pieces for grilling. Cut them crosswise, lengthwise or on the bias depending on the look you're going for. Certain vegetables like eggplant and zucchini are more dramatic when they're cut lengthwise, which also shows off their distinctive shapes. (Richard recommends lightly salting these on both sides and letting them stand for 15 minutes to help some of the water drain out before grilling.)
We then place the sliced, salted vegetables on a sheet pan, and brush with olive oil that's been infused with garlic, thyme, rosemary, and oregano. Next, turn them over and brush the other side. If you have a grill on your indoor range, it will work great for grilling, as you don't have to worry about the pieces falling through. Many stores sell mesh baskets that can be used for grilling vegetables and fish on outdoor grills. Each vegetable has it's own perfect cooking time, so you'll have to keep an eye on them and test for "done-ness". Drizzling the finished platter with balsamic vinegar and a shower of freshly chopped basil gives everything a dramatic finish!