Summer food is equivalent to grilling, right? Well, in the intense heat we’re feeling here in the Midwest I’m not sure everyone is so excited about firing up the grills all the time. I mean, it’s really hot- even in the evenings I’ve seen temps at 98° F. That said, with all the amazing summer produce to be found at farmers markets and in our own gardens, there still needs to be a way to use up your favorite summer veggies even if it means staying indoors and NOT turning on the oven.
I recently had a few beautiful eggplant and colorful peppers, but with no desire to go out in the heat to grill them and certainly not interested in warming up the kitchen by turning on the oven, I decided to roast the skins of the veggies on an indoor grill, or comal, the same pan I use to warm up tortillas or make quesadillas. My plan was to make a roasted veggie salad.
It doesn’t take long for them to get blackened, but it’s a good idea to turn on the fan above the stove to circulate the air and keep things cool, otherwise it can sometimes sound the fire alarm in your home. Crack a window, too.
After the veggies have blackened, you can put them in a paper bag to allow them to “sweat”, then put in the refrigerator for about 20-30 minutes (maybe even less). The chill makes it easier to later peel off the skin.
Once they’re peeled and all the seeds removed, cut the veggies how you like- big pieces, long pieces, small pieces, etc. Add some extra virgin olive oil, salt and freshly chopped herbs and you’re all set to go. Unless you want to add fresh lemon juice, some capers, roasted garlic (raw garlic is a bit too pungent for some people) and maybe even some crushed red pepper. It’s all up to you and what you have on hand. Here’s a rough recipe, but since you may have differing amounts of veggies, adjust the oil and salt to your own tastes.
Grilled Eggplant and Pepper Salad
1 large eggplant
3 large green, red, yellow or orange peppers
freshly chopped basil and/or parsley
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt, to taste
Clean the veggies well and dry them thoroughly before use.
On a comal, flat cast iron pan, grill pan or outdoor grill, making sure to blacken each side. This should take about 20 minutes if using medium-high heat or flame.
Remove the veggies and place in a paper or plastic bag to allow them to ‘sweat’ and make it easier to peel. Leave for at least 15 minutes.
Remove the veggies from the bag and scrape off the blackened skin and remove any seeds from the peppers (not the eggplant). Cut the veggies as desired.
In a large bowl or plate, place the veggies and add the freshly chopped herbs, oil and salt. Mix well and serve at room temperature or cold.