Sometimes, a little freshening up is in order. I put this chopped grilled vegetable salad on my weekly dinner planner and when I pulled the image for it, I cringed a little. The photo did not do it justice at all. This salad is one of my absolute favorites and one that I posted almost 5 years ago. In all fairness to me, I didn’t even know how to use a camera when I started this blog, and although I am still no photography expert, I think my images have improved since 2011. So I thought I would pull this post from the archives and give it a facelift, especially on the eve of Memorial Day weekend when you might be inclined to make a fantastic, crowd-pleasing salad such as this one.
This chopped grilled vegetable salad is my version of a salad I used to love at a West Hollywood restaurant called The Ivy, where they charge an outrageous $28 for it (and it’s for one person!) (BTW, in 2011 when I first wrote this post, The Ivy charged $24 for the salad.) I made this recently for some friends and served it on my new salad board. Everyone went gaga for it. Although the prep shots here show mushrooms in the mix, I made it with small Japanese eggplants in the final shots. They’re both great. This is a hearty salad that can be a meal or a side dish. You can served it tossed together or composed where each ingredient is separate. However you arrange it, it’s a delicious way to eat a ton of good-for-you vegetables!
When I make this salad for my family, I usually add a little grilled chicken or salmon on top or some feta and that’s dinner. But for entertaining or to bring to a potluck, it’s great because it’s versatile enough to go with everything being served and all the components can be prepped ahead. The recipe is written with my favorite vegetables, but you can certainly substitute what you like better or what looks good at the farm stand that day. Corn and avocado always make it in there, as does some kind of summer squash, green or yellow. I generally like to add some type of meaty vegetable like portobello mushrooms or eggplant, and an onion, my favorite being scallions. I think grilled sweet bell peppers would be yummy, too. The key is knowing how long to grill the vegetables since they all take a different amount of time. This is one reason I prefer to prepare this salad before my guests arrive so I’m not too distracted (happens easily with me.) The scallions grill up especially quickly, say 60-90 seconds on each side. You just want to make sure you don’t overcook the vegetables so they don’t turn to mush in the salad. As you can see from my photographs, I wasn’t too caught up in making this salad look too perfect since I knew it would taste delicious and really my family and friends were the stars of the show.
- 2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 2 Tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
- 1 small shallot, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons raw honey
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- freshly ground pepper to taste
- ½ cup unrefined, cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 ears corn
- 1 bunch asparagus, about ¾ pound, ends trimmed
- 3 Japanese eggplant, about ¾ pound, halved lengthwise or 3 Portobello mushrooms (less commonly know as Portabellas, but really just oversized cremini mushrooms)
- 3 medium zucchini, about 1 pound, halved lengthwise
- 1 bunch scallions, left whole or 1 red onion, sliced thickly
- sea salt and black pepper for seasoning
- 8 cups romaine or red leaf lettuce, chopped (optional)
- 2 ripe avocados, peeled and cubed
- Prepare corn: Pull husks down and remove silks. Replace one layer of husks and discard the rest. Soak in water until grill is ready.
- Preheat a grill over medium high heat or heat a grill pan.
- Place all dressing ingredients except oil in a small bowl. Add olive oil slowly, whisking continuously to emulsify. Lightly brush the asparagus, eggplant or mushrooms, zucchini and scallions with dressing (I used 7-8 tablespoons.) Sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper to taste.
- Grill each vegetable according to doneness. Each one takes a different amount of time. Corn takes about 5 minutes on each side. Do not overcook! Allow to cool slightly, then chop into bite-sized chunks. Cut corn off the cob.
- Place lettuce on a large platter and drizzle lightly with some of the dressing. Toss to coat. Drizzle the chopped vegetables with most of the remaining dressing and arrange on top of the lettuce. Dress the avocado cubes with any remaining dressing and arrange on top.
An Alternative Dressing – Lemon-Basil:
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
2 small garlic cloves
¾ cup basil leaves
½ cup unrefined, cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil
Puree everything in a blender.