The Handoff: Grilled Summer Vegetables Marinated in Herbs
By Jennifer KightleyAs promised in my Tuesday post, we’re at the market today and as usual, it’s buzzing, even though it’s August – hot summer holiday time. Why is everybody still here in the city? I wonder if Jeremiah, last week’s RecipeRelay-er, would like it here?
Fortunately, Francesco, one of our favorite market traders, still has eggs. His peppers and eggplant look great too. (Does he polish them before he sets off in the morning?) Disaster nearly strikes as my camera flies out of my hand and clatters to the ground. But no damage is done and I can go on snapping away for my adventure with RecipeRelay. Time is getting short!
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The best vegetables for my recipe are eggplant, zucchini and peppers. Though there wans’t much choice I found what I needed at the market. Feel free to experiment though, with the marinade and the accompaniments. All the marinade ingredients for this recipe came from our garden, so be creative with your garden herbs.
I chose to serve the dish with eggs because, for a long time we didn’t use them except for baking. I didn’t know where to find a regular supply of free-range eggs and I couldn’t face eating the battery hen variety. Now I have a reliable source from my local market and I wanted to include them in my contribution to RecipeRelay. I think they will go well with the vegetables as an antipasto, together with some focaccia.
There are several pluses to having a bowl of marinated vegetables in the fridge; you can prepare them well in advance, they keep for several days, they are versatile (there are a couple of extra ideas for how to use them at the end of the recipe) and they are healthy and tasty.
Grilled Summer Vegetables in Herbs with Hard-boiled, Free-range Eggs and Focaccia
Prep time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 1 hour to grill vegetables
Total Time: 2 hours plus overnight (or at least a couple of hours) to marinate
Yield: 4-6 servings as an antipasto
- 2 medium eggplants
- 5 medium zucchini
- 3 peppers, red, green and/or yellow
- 1 Tablespoon dried oregano
- 5-6 large leaves of basil
- 5-6 walnuts
- 1 teaspoon wild fennel seeds
- 5-6 Tablespoon olive oil
- A pinch of salt to taste – optional
- 1 egg per person
- Pepper or paprika or a mix of spices, such as chaat masala, to sprinkle over the egg (optional).
- Focaccia or other local bread of your choice.
- Slice the eggplants – not more than 1cm thick. If your eggplants are bitter salt them and leave for 30-40 minute, then rinse.
- Grill, taking care not to burn. Put a little oil on each slice. I dip a teaspoon into oil and rub the eggplant with the back of the spoon. Better not overdo the oil at this point.
- Repeat for the zucchinis, without salting.
- Grill the peppers until the skins blacken, or you can see they are separating from the flesh. Cover and leave to cool. Remove the skins and seeds. Gently tear the flesh into strips. Conserve the juice. It is very nutritious and can be added to the marinade.
- The eggplant and zucchinis should be cut to similar-sized pieces and the peppers left in strips.
- Chop the walnuts and basil together.
- Grind the fennel seeds with a pestle and mortar or food processor.
- Combine the walnut-basil mixture, ground fennel seeds, oregano, olive oil and salt. The pepper juices can be added – to replace some of the oil or to make the marinade go further.
- Put a layer of mixed veg in a bowl.
- Spread a little of the marinade over the veg.
- Repeat till you fill the bowl or finish your ingredients. Leave enough marinade for the top as it will soak through and spread the flavour.
- Leave overnight, or at least for several hours, to marinate.
- Arrange vegetables on a serving dish.
- Hard boil one egg per person.
- Peel the eggs and arrange on the bed of vegetables. Optional – sprinkle with pepper or a spices of your choice.
Finally… The other day we had the vegetable leftovers with couscous and hummus and a drizzle of chilli-flavoured olive oil, which went down very well. Alternatively the vegetables can be served as a main dish with brown rice. They are also a good accompaniment to fish… and so on. I’ll leave it with you.
Jennifer Kightley is a recently retired teacher who is looking forward to having enough time to be able do the things she has neglected in the past. She and her husband are the owners & operators of Le Tre Stallette Bed & Breakfast on the outskirts of Rome, Italy.