Ahh, do hear that summer sizzle? That’s not the sun beating down on your head, and nobody (I know) is frying an egg on the sidewalk. That sizzle is my salad. It’s a grilled salad of marinated zucchini, pink peppercorns and feta cheese. Because when it’s hot we all like to grill– it keeps us out of the kitchen. But when it’s really hot I start looking for something lighter, healthier and quicker than the standard grilled fare.
Welcome to the grilled salad. It’s a very broad category. One I plan to re-address several times this summer with all manner of ingredients. In my opinion all salads need something bright, something to enliven the palate. Something that says fresh even when it’s grilled. This grilled salad is made bright and summery with a simple vinaigrette that’s enlivened with pink peppercorns.
Grilled Zucchini with Pink Peppercorns and Feta can be a delicious side salad at a backyard grilling party, and that’s how I served it. It’s super convenient because it can be made ahead. It only gets better as it sits in the refrigerator overnight. It’s also hearty enough to serve as a main course should any unexpected vegetarians drop by. Pink Peppercorns can be found in the spice section of most gourmet shops. They also grow all over the place in Los Angeles and other areas with a similar climate.
As I said the grilled salad is a broad category. The obvious place to start is with something like grilled chicken breast or steak piled high on top fresh summer greens. I’d never complain about that sort of grilled salad. Still, why not take it one step further? The grill works wonders with veggies, fruits and even lettuce. I plan to bring you a grilled greens salad later in the summer.
Today we’ll start with zucchini. It’s an easy vegetable to grill. I like to keep my pieces rather thick which means you have to get much of the water out of them before you bring them to the grill, otherwise they’ll get soggy. This is easily accomplished with a generous sprinkling of salt. Let the zucchini sit and drain a good long time– at least an hour and a half. Dry them with paper towels, brush them with oil and then move them to indirect heat on the grill until they get tantalizingly singed with black stripes. The following recipe is great as a grilled salad especially if you let the zucchini marinate in the vinaigrette, but the smoky vegetables are also delicious when served warm from the grill. Either way this turned out to be the best salad so far this summer. I know it’s early in the season though– so stay tuned. GREG