Grilled Ratatouille Salad with Lemony Herb Dressing
It’s so easy to get ratatouille wrong. The main culprit is undercooked eggplant; the primary accomplice is a thin, watery sauce. You know what I mean. Picture that squeaky chunk of wet eggplant and think, Why is this woman trying to ruin my appetite in her food column?
It’s because I have a solution, dear reader! And not only does this ratatouille variation solve these problems, it also takes the cooking out of your kitchen and onto the grill, which is a relief this time of year. (Side note: ratatouille is a braised summer vegetable dish from the south of France. How hot is that French kitchen on ratatouille day?)
The solution is to caramelize all the vegetables (except the tomatoes) over the direct heat of a grill before topping them with an herby, garlicky dressing that evokes pesto (or pistou, as the French call it) but with a lemony edge and a dash of honey. I promise you’ll love it. And if you want to turn it into something more substantial, you can always add slices of fresh mozzarella and serve it with a nice baguette. Bon appétit!
Yield: 8 servings
For the salad
- 1 eggplant (about 1 ½ pounds)
- 1 ½ tablespoons plus ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons plus 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 red bell peppers
- 1 yellow squash
- 2 zucchini
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 cups multicolored grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
InstructionsFirst, prepare the eggplant: Remove the stem end, then cut lengthwise into ½-inch-thick slabs and arrange on a baking sheet. Salt all the cut sides with 1½ tablespoons kosher salt and let sit for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare a gas or charcoal grill for direct, medium-high heat (about 375°).
Rinse the eggplant and pat dry. Brush with 2 tablespoons olive oil.
Now, prepare the other vegetables: Stem and seed the bell peppers, then quarter lengthwise and put into a large bowl. Slice the squash and zucchini lengthwise into ½-inch-thick slabs and add to bowl. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons olive oil, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, and the black pepper; toss to coat.
Grill the vegetables in batches until they are nicely browned and tender, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Let them cool to room temperature while you make the dressing.
For the dressing
- 1 cup firmly packed parsley leaves and thin stems
- 1 cup firmly packed basil leaves and thin stems
- 1 large garlic clove, roughly chopped
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon honey
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
InstructionsCombine all the dressing ingredients in a blender, and blend until smooth.
To assemble the salad, chop the grilled vegetables into bite-size pieces. Toss the tomatoes and grilled vegetables together in a serving bowl, then drizzle with half the dressing and sprinkle with pine nuts. Serve with remaining dressing on the side.