Showing posts with label grilled vegetables. Show all posts
Showing posts with label grilled vegetables. Show all posts

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Rise and Shine - Cooking as the Sun Comes Up

There are great pleasures in getting up early and cooking for friends coming for lunch or dinner.
In the summer, getting up as the sun is rising avoids the day's heat. In the winter, I love early morning cooking because the kitchen heats the house with fragrance as baked good come out of the oven and bacon sizzles in the sauté pan.

Before everyone else is awake, the house is quiet. A freshly brewed cup of coffee and NPR's Morning Edition gets me going as I organize my ingredients and pull out the few pots and pans I'll need to make a fun meal.

For a summer brunch, with the weather forecast saying temperatures will top 90 degrees, rising early means the chance to do some light cooking and then spend the rest of the day enjoying the cool of a shaded deck.

Easy-to-make dishes give a big return.
Grilled vegetables, eaten as an appetizer or turned into a simple salad, are light, refreshing and take only a few minutes to prepare.

Or the simplest meal starts with hardboiled eggs cooked in the morning and chilled, then served with remoulade or 1000 island dressing and good cold cuts and cheese.
An omelet takes minutes to make.  Prepared ahead, the fillings can be any combination of sautéed vegetables, meat, fish or poultry with whatever cheese you enjoy.
Gnocchi prepared in the morning, come together with farmers market fresh vegetables or thin slices of prosciutto, dusted with parsley.
A simple baked custard flavored with fresh or cooked fruit, topped with caramelized nuts, served with fresh fruit from the farmers market is the perfect dessert.
Biscuits for strawberry shortcake, baked as the sun is coming up, appear in the afternoon, cut in half and topped with fresh strawberries and whipped cream.
In fall and winter, bacon sautéed chicken with vegetables is perfect to drive away the cold or pork belly roasted with Vietnamese style vegetables and cooked overnight in a 225 F degree oven. The tender, ginger flavored meat adds spice to a simple tossed pasta.
Cooking early in the morning frees the rest of the day to relax, go for a walk and read the Sunday newspaper. Then when it's time to eat, the food is ready and you are a guest at your own table.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Asparagus Stalks Memorial Day Picnics

Burgers, hot dogs, potato salad, cole slaw and fresh fruit salads are Memorial Day classics. I look forward to those favorites but to keep them interesting, it's good to add something new and a little unexpected.
When I was growing up, asparagus was one of the fancy vegetables. Carrots, corn and broccoli were the everyday vegetables. Asparagus was saved for special occasions. These days asparagus is affordable, easy-to-prepare and versatile.

Right now asparagus is plentiful in farmers markets. Nutritious, delicious and loaded with healthy minerals, asparagus can be enjoyed raw or cooked, as a salad or a side dish to add zest to a backyard barbecue or afternoon lunch.

Raw Asparagus Salad
Look for small to medium sized stalks that are firm and without blemish or shrivel-marks.

Serves 4

Ingredients

1/2 pound asparagus, washed, white ends trimmed plus an additional 2" cut off and discarded
1 tablespoon olive oil
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Directions


Slice in half the long way the larger stalks just before serving. Just before serving, toss the asparagus with the seasoned olive oil.

Variations

To add heat, dust with a pinch of cayenne or 1/4 teaspoon pepper flakes.

Sprinkle 2 tablespoons flaky goat cheese over the asparagus.

Finely chop 1 garlic clove and lightly sauté until brown, sprinkle over the asparagus.

Grilled Asparagus

Use any size asparagus you like. 
Serves 4

Ingredients

1 pound asparagus, washed, white ends trimmed plus an additional 2" cut off and discarded
1 tablespoon olive oil
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Heat the grill on a medium flame.

Toss the asparagus in the seasoned olive oil and place on the grill. 

Tongs will help turn the asparagus on the grill. Be careful to brown but not burn the tender stalks. Serve warm.

Variations

Grill with carrots (sliced or whole baby carrots) and serve as a vegetable course or as a side dish.

To add heat, dust with a pinch of cayenne or an additional 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper.

Steamed or Sautéed Asparagus with Caramelized Garlic, Shallots and Almond Slivers
Use any size asparagus you like. I prefer large or medium sized stalks, cut in half the long way so I can caramelize inside the asparagus.

The dish is as delicious whether you steam or sauté the asparagus. The choice is yours.

Blanched, raw slivered almonds are widely available in supermarkets. From my experience, Trader Joe's has good quality, affordable almonds.

To deceive the eye, the shallot and garlic clove should be sliced to resemble the almond slivers. The surprising sweet-savory/soft-crunch contrast adds to the fun of the dish.

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 pound asparagus, washed, white ends trimmed plus an additional 2" cut off and discarded
1/4 cup blanched, raw almond slivers
1 large shallot, washed, peeled, root end removed, thin sliced
1 large garlic clove, washed, peeled, root end removed, thin sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper to taste

Directions

Heat a large frying pan with the olive oil, seasoned with sea salt and black pepper. Add the asparagus, cooking in batches if necessary. Don't crowd them in the pan so they cook evenly. Use tongs to turn them frequently to brown and avoid burning.

Remove the cooked stalks to a plate lined with a paper towel.

In the same pan, cook the shallot, garlic and almonds until lightly browned. Add a touch of olive oil if needed. Season with black pepper.

Either add the cooked asparagus back into the pan with the almond mixture and toss well or plate the asparagus and top the stalks with the almond mixture.

Serve warm.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Corn on the Cob Gets Dressed Up For Dinner

We celebrate summer with grilled meats and boiled corn, the golden ears arriving at the table, resting in silky pools of melted butter, ready for a dusting of freshly ground sea salt and black pepper.
Many people hunger so much for corn they eat it every chance they can to such an extent that, sooner or later, familiarity breeds disinterest and even a little disdain. 

Where it seemed so celebratory at the beginning of summer, by August they turn away when a platter of corn is placed on the table. 

That's pretty much the way it's been for me.

On my last trip to our local farmers market, I hadn't planned on buying corn until I noticed that very few farmers were selling corn and those that were had very little to sell. Arriving late, the corn was almost sold out. 

Talking with a farmer, I learned that local corn will disappear from the market in a couple of weeks. After that, no more corn until the spring.

I bought half a dozen ears, deciding we should have a farewell to corn dinner. Preparing the ears by grilling or boiling would still be great, but I wanted to do something different. 

At Cuban restaurants in New York, corn on the cob is served with butter, mayonnaise and grated cheese. The sweet chewy corn kernels benefit from those added flavors.

I liked the idea of a topping on the corn but decided on a different direction. 

Corn on the Cob with Garlic-Onion Crisps
Serves 4

Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

4 ears corn, husks and silks removed, washed and dried
1 tablespoon sweet butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, ends and skin removed, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, skins removed, finely chopped
1/4 cup Italian parsley, leaves only, left whole or finely chopped
Sea salt and pepper

Directions
The corn can either be grilled or boiled. To grill, lightly drizzle each ear with a small amount of olive oil and season with sea salt and pepper. Place on a hot grill and turn frequently until lightly browned.  If boiled, place the ears of corn in a large pot of water, turn the heat on high, turn the corn frequently and remove when the water boils. Keep warm.

Heat the butter and olive oil in a frying pan. On a medium high flame, sauté the onions, garlic and parsley until lightly browned and crispy.

Cut the corn into 2" long sections, place on a serving platter. Sprinkle the onion-garlic-parsley crisps over the corn and serve.

Variations

Add heat to the sauté with 1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder.

After topping the corn with the sauté, dust the corn with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Grilled Vegetables and Grilled Vegetable Salads

Although most of the world thinks there are no seasons in Southern California, those of us who are natives know that isn't the case. In the winter, we are very definitely cold. When my wife and I walk on the beach, she wears a full compliment of winter wear: fur lined hat, gloves, sweater, and jacket.

We also feel winter's grip when the sun disappears in mid-afternoon, requiring lights to be turned on before 5:00pm. With the cold and darkness, these are not easy times. Certainly there are pleasures to be gotten from a crackling fire in the fireplace, hot soups filled with savory bits, and braised meats surrounded by an array of root vegetables. Admittedly those are sweet comforts, but they are brought front and center because our sagging spirits need propping up.

Spring in Southern California is a different matter altogether. Although there is still fog aplenty at the beach where we live, the days benefit from the warmth of the sun's strengthening rays.

Besides sensing the increase of daylight and warmth, we also know that spring has arrived because the local farmers' markets welcome back long forgotten friends. Corn on the cob, green garlic, all manner of flowers, squash blossoms, and stone fruit beginning with plums, pluots, apricots and apriums.

With the abundance of locally grown produce, the high points of my week are visits to the Wednesday Santa Monica and the Sunday Pacific Palisades Farmers' Market.

As a child I avoided contact with vegetables as much as I could. My mother's treatment of produce was ungenerous. String beans were boiled in salted water and then extracted, limp and submissive. Corn and English peas were taken from the freezer and overcooked in the same salted water, their flavor saved only by the large pat of butter that joined them in the serving bowl.

Leaving home, I pursued a different path, exploring the local farmers' markets and experimenting with vegetables I had only heard about but never eaten. One of my chief discoveries was that vegetables, like hamburgers and steaks, benefited from grilling.

Who does not love carrots drizzled with olive oil, seasoned with sea salt and black pepper and cooked on a hot grill? Their carrot-essence acquires a caramelized sweetness that is irresistible. And what about the improvement of artichokes, Japanese eggplant, broccoli, corn, squash, zucchini, and even thin slices of Yukon Gold potatoes similarly coated with seasoned olive oil and placed on the grill?

So powerful are those flavors, I have to restrain myself from grilling every night.

Just about any vegetable can be grilled. Some, like tomatoes and asparagus, cook quickly and require an attentive hand to prevent charring. Others, like corn on the cob, take a bit longer and need to be turned frequently for even cooking. A few, like artichokes, require fifteen-minutes in boiling water before heading to the grill.

Grilling pulls out the essential flavor of each vegetable. Those qualities are enhanced by a simple dredging in olive oil seasoned with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

Once grilled, the vegetables can be served straight off the grill as a finger-food appetizer, a side dish, or even as an entree. But they can be so much more.

Chopped up, grilled vegetables can fill out a parsley salad. Mixed with couscous they make a savory side dish.

Once you start grilling vegetables, they'll become a secret weapon in your culinary adventures.

Grilled Vegetables

Yield 4 servings
Time 45 minutes

Ingredients

4 large carrots, washed, peeled, cut into slabs 1/4" thick, 2" long
2 broccoli crowns, washed, cut into slabs 1/4" thick, 2" long
1 bunch asparagus, medium sized or thick, washed, white ends trimmed off
1 ear of corn, husks and silks removed, washed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Pinch of black pepper

Method

Turn the grill on to medium and preheat for 10 minutes.

In a bowl, toss the vegetables and season with the olive oil, sea salt and pepper. Using tongs, put the vegetables on the grill.

Close the cover and cook for 2-3 minutes. Turn and cook another 2-3 minutes, checking frequently to prevent burning. How long each vegetable takes to cook depends on your grill, the vegetable, and the thickness of the slices.

Have a serving plate handy so you have a place to put the cooked pieces when they're ready. Serve hot as a side dish or room temperature as finger-food appetizers.

Grilled Vegetable Chopped Salad

Cut the corn kernels off the cob. Roughly chop the other vegetables. Toss together. Add a bit more olive oil, taste, and adjust seasoning with sea salt and pepper.

Grilled Vegetable and Parsley Salad

With the grilled vegetables as a starting point, the salad can be expanded by adding elements. In this case, parsley.

Ingredients

3 cups grilled vegetables, roughly chopped
1 bunch Italian parsley, washed, most of the stems removed, leaves finely chopped
Olive oil
Sea salt and pepper

Method

Mix together the chopped vegetables and parsley. Add more olive oil as needed, taste and adjust seasoning with sea salt and pepper.

Variations

Add 1 avocado, peeled and chopped

Add 10 fresh cherry tomatoes, quartered

Add 1 tablespoon chopped scallions or red onion

Substitute cilantro for parsley

Add 1 hard boiled egg, finely chopped

Couscous Salad with Grilled Vegetables and Parsley

The salad becomes more substantial with the addition of easy-to-make couscous.

Yield 4 servings
Time 20 minutes

Ingredients

1 cup whole wheat couscous
1 1/4 cups water, boiling
Olive oil
Sea salt and pepper

Method

Mix together 1 cup whole wheat couscous, the heated water, and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Stir well, cover with plastic wrap and set aside 10 minutes, then fluff and cover again until needed.

In a bowl, mix together the chopped vegetables, parsley, and prepared couscous. Add a bit more olive oil, taste and adjust seasoning with sea salt and pepper.

Variations

Add 6 grilled mushrooms, roughly chopped

Add 1 fresh avocado, roughly chopped

Add 10 grilled shrimps, roughly chopped

Add 1/4 cup crumbled feta or goat cheese

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Couscous and Bulgar Salads are Affordable, Easy to Make and Oh So Good for You

My wife is on her way to her parents' house in New Jersey. She packed her clothes, bathroom kit, and Walter Mosley's latest detective novel, The Long Fall. I wanted to contribute to the weekend's meals even if I wasn't going with her. I put together a small packet with a mini-apple pie, a banana chocolate chip walnut cake, freshly cooked black beans, brown rice, grilled broccoli, bulgar salad with celery, and a box of whole wheat couscous. All but the couscous were ready to eat.

When we visit her parents, I usually do some of the cooking under her mom's supervision. The first time I cooked in Helen's kitchen I was showing off my then-specialty: whole roasted chicken cooked at high temperature. The impact on her kitchen was regrettable. The "high heat" was so high that her corningware roasting pan exploded. The resulting splatter on the inside of her oven took several days to clean. Needless to say I didn't make the best first-impression on my prospective mother-in-law. Luckily the chicken was delicious but I haven't used her oven since.

Couscous is one of Michelle's staples, so she took along a box of whole wheat couscous from Trader Joe's. Since she hadn't made it before, I wanted her to have the recipe for the weekend.

The recipes for couscous are the same as for bulgar. They are delicious as salads and side dishes. They accommodate any number of vegetables and herbs.

Couscous or Bulgar Salad with Celery

Yield: 4 servings
Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

1 cup instant couscous or fine grained bulgar
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup olive oil
1 celery stalk, washed, leaves removed, finely chopped
1 scallion, washed, ends trimmed, finely chopped
5 Italian parsley sprigs, leaves removed, washed, finely chopped
Sea salt and pepper

Method

Boil the water. Put the couscous or bulgar into a bowl, add the water, stir, drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil, cover with plastic wrap for 10 minutes.

Using a fork, fluff the couscous or bulgar, add the rest of the olive oil, season with sea salt and pepper to taste, toss with the celery, scallion, and parsley.

Serve at room temperature as a salad or a side dish.

Variations:

Add chopped raw tomatoes

Add Iranian cucumbers, washed, peeled, finely chopped

Add 1/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion

Add currants

Couscous or Bulgar with Grilled Vegetables

Yield: 4 servings
Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

1 cup instant couscous or fine grained bulgar
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large carrot, washed, peeled, ends removed, cut into 1" long slabs, 1/4" thick
1 large broccoli crown, washed, cut into 1" long slabs, 1/4" thick
5 Italian parsley sprigs, leaves removed, washed, finely chopped
Sea salt and pepper

Boil the water. Put the couscous or bulgar into a bowl, add the water, stir, drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil, cover with plastic wrap for 10 minutes.

Toss the carrots and broccoli pieces with olive oil, seasoned with sea salt and black pepper. Grill or roast in a 350 degree oven until lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Let cool and finely chop.

Using a fork, fluff the couscous or bulgar, add the rest of the olive oil, season with sea salt and pepper to taste, toss with the cut up carrots and broccoli.

Serve at room temperature as a salad or a side dish.

Variations:

Add 1/4 cup corn kernels, seasoned with olive oil, sea salt, and pepper, grilled or roasted

Add 1/4 cup olives, pitted, chopped

Add 1 cup spinach leaves, no stems, washed, roughly chopped

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Grilled Vegetable Couscous Salad

For a confirmed meat-eater like myself, everything tastes better with crisp bacon, grilled sausage, or a roasted meat. Michelle's new diet has challenged me to come up with dishes that are as flavorful as she's used to but focus on vegetables.

Experimenting with recipes has sent me searching for ingredients I often over-looked. In our pantry I discovered packages of couscous, dried beans, and polenta, all gifts from the Il Fornaio Passport program.

If you haven't eaten at Il Fornaio, I'd like to recommend the restaurant. We have been regular customers of the Santa Monica Il Fornaio ever since it opened. We appreciate the friendly service, fresh ingredients, well-prepared dishes, and affordable prices. And we enjoy the Passport program and its monthly gifts. When the gifts are ingredients to make at home, Chef Maurizio Mazzon provides easy-to-follow recipes for each.

As an end of summer dish, couscous with grilled vegetables seemed like a perfect dish to make for Michelle. Traditional couscous requires a lengthy cooking process. Il Fornaio provided a quick-cooking couscous, which I recommend. This recipe is indebted to Chef Mazzon.

Grilled Vegetables Couscous

Yield: 4-6 servings
Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups couscous (quick-cook style)
1 1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons olives, cracked green or kalamata (pitted, finely chopped)
1 basket cherry tomatoes (washed, quartered)
1/4 cup capers (chopped)
1 cup Italian parsley (leaves only, washed, finely chopped)
1 ear of corn (husks and silks removed, washed)
1 carrot (washed, peeled, trimmed, cut into slabs 4"x1/4")
2 garlic cloves (washed, trimmed)
1 ripe avocado (optional)
1 bunch arugula (optional)
Olive oil
Sea salt and pepper

Method

Drizzle olive oil onto a flat plate, season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, roll the corn on the plate to coat with the seasoned oil. Do the same with the carrot slabs and garlic cloves. Lightly brown on a hot grill or roast in a 350 degree oven for 10-20 minutes, turning to avoid burning. Let cool , finely chop the carrots and garlic. Cut the kernels off the cob.

As Chef Mazzon instructs, boil the water with 1/2 teaspoon sea salt. In a non-reactive bowl (stainless steel or glass) mix together the couscous with the salted hot water and 2 tablespoons olive oil, cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 10 minutes.

To the couscous, add the carrots, corn, garlic, parsley, capers, olives, and cherry tomatoes. Add another 7 tablespoons of olive oil. Toss well. Taste and adjust the seasoning with sea salt or black pepper. Can be served chilled or at room temperature.

Variations

Add grilled broccoli (treated in the same way as the carrots).

Serve with arugula.

Serve with a sliced avocado.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

From Los Angeles to UC Davis with a Stop at San Francisco's Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market

On our way to UC Davis for our son Michael's freshman orientation, we first went to San Francisco. Taking I-5 we drove straight up the Central Valley with its seemingly endless miles of rich farmland, passing truck after truck filled to overflowing with California's bounty: tomatoes, cantaloupes, watermelons, squash, lettuce, onions... Like most Californians we love being on a road trip but nowadays we don't have the luxury of time so we usually fly when we travel. For this trip we had set aside five days and we relished a rare opportunity to get in the car and hit the road.
In San Francisco we stayed with Michelle's cousin Marii, her husband Ron, and their daughter Claire. Their house is in the Marina so we could take walks along the Bay within sight of the Golden Gate Bridge. Ron is a great cook and we decided that one night he, Michelle, and I would cook dinner for Michael, Marii, and Claire.
Saturday morning, while Michael slept in, we went to the Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market to prep the meal.

The last time I shopped at the market I was working for San Francisco based DotComix, a web animation site that imploded when the internet bubble popped in 2000. At that time, the farmers' market was across the street from the Ferry in a small parking lot. Now the market encircles the Ferry building and fills the Plaza on the southern end, giving the shoppers a clear view of the Bay Bridge.

For an appetizer Ron was going to barbeque skewers of Wagyu beef he'd ordered on-line from ADiRECT Foods. The night before we'd eaten at a neighborhood Japanese-fusion restaurant called Umami. We talked a lot about what created that extra flavor ("umami") that is neither sweet, bitter, sour, salty but something more. We knew using mushrooms was one way to create that extra flavor. At the market he found fresh morels that he wanted to try with the beef. For our part Michelle and I wanted to keep dinner as summer-friendly as possible so we focused on buying ingredients we could grill and use for salads. Dessert would be a Banana-Chocolate Chip Walnut Cake I'd made at home.

There were stand-outs at the market: large bunches of watercress from White Crane Springs Ranch, peaches and nectarines from Frog Hollow Farm, and Ella Bella Farm's broccoli di cicco (sprouted broccoli). We also bought corn, tomatoes, arugula, and Italian parsley. The market is such a treat. Even if you didn't need to shop, walking through the crowds and enjoying the visual experience of the waterfront setting is more than enough reason to come to the market.

Ironically we would have missed one of the best parts of the market if the forest fires weren't raging in California and Nevada. We were just about finished shopping when we were surprised to see our friends Val and Florence. They live a block away from us in LA. Florence is one of the most accomplished cooks I know. There was no one better to give us tips about the market. They were two days into a week-long vacation in Reno when the forest fires came close enough that they had to leave, as Val put it, "because it was raining ash." Having traveled frequently to San Francisco, Florence knew where to buy the best peaches--Frog Hollow Farm--and which vendors had the best prepared food.

We hadn't planned to eat at the market because we were on our way to Sausalito to have lunch with friends, but Florence insisted that we couldn't leave without sampling her favorites. Luckily there were four of us to share. There was lox, cream cheese and a slice of thick-cut tomato on sourdough bread topped with red onions and lavender sea salt from Cap'n Mike's Holy Smoked Salmon, toastadas de ceviche with shrimp and avocado from Primavera, and RoliRoti's porchetta sandwich, the crispy pork sliced to order by chef-owner Thomas Odermatt. Florence told us that the porchetta sandwich was just like the ones she loved in Rome. For us the porchetta sandwich was a highlight of our trip. With napkins in hand and our stomachs full, we thanked Florence and Val for their much-appreciated advice.

Claire had patiently endured our extra time at the market. We owed it to her to finish shopping quickly. While she ate a breakfast muffin from Downtown Bakery, I picked up a chicken from the Golden Gate Meat Company and a piece of Capricious cheese from Achadinha Cheese Company.

Later that afternoon Ron, Michelle, and I cooked our dinner, which included grilled chicken, sausages, and vegetables; a summer drink of white rum, mint, and limes that combines the best of a Mojito and a Caipirinha; Ron's skewers of Wagyu beef and morels were amazing, the morels' earthiness perfectly complimented the meat's buttery sweetness; chopped liver and egg salad; grilled lavash; arugula and carrot salad; chopped salad; watercress with grated Capricious cheese; and the banana chocolate chip walnut cake.
We had a wonderfully leisurely dinner with time to catch up about family, tell jokes, and talk about favorite movies. As a reward for my helping cook dinner, Claire made me a drawing in recognition of my "hard work and generosity." Appreciation is a great gift for anyone who cooks.

Of all the dishes we made, what Marii liked best was the chopped salad with grilled vegetables and Italian parsley. There will be more about the rest of the dinner in subsequent posts, but I wanted to start with Marii's favorite dish.

Summer's Best Chopped Salad

A salad with an infinite number of variations.

Yield 4 servings
Time 45 minutes

Ingredients

2 bunches Italian parsley (washed, finely chopped, leaves and stems)
1 large avocado (peeled, pit removed, roughly chopped)
4 carrots (washed, peeled, cut into 1/4" thick, 2" long slabs)
2 scallions (washed, ends trimmed)
4 ears of corn (husks and silks removed, washed)
1/2 pound broccoli (washed, ends trimmed, stems peeled, florets cut into 1/4" thick, 2" long slabs; if using sprouted broccoli grill whole)
1/2 pound string beans (washed, ends trimmed)
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
Sea salt and pepper

Method

Put the chopped parsley and avocado into a large mixing bowl. Heat a barbecue grill. Drizzle olive oil on the vegetables, season with sea salt and pepper. Grill 5-10 minutes until lightly brown. If you don't have a grill, you can accomplish a similar result in a 350 degree oven. Turn frequently in either case so the vegetables don't burn. Remove and let cool.

Reduce the balsamic vinegar in a saucepan on a low flame until you have a quarter of the original volume. The vinegar will become sweet.

Finely chop the grilled vegetables, add to the parsley, drizzle with olive oil and reduced balsamic, season to taste with sea salt and pepper. Toss well and transfer to a salad bowl.

Variations

Keep the salad vegetarian and grill any vegetable you enjoy, like squash, asparagus, onions or mushrooms, chop, and add to the salad.
Add grilled meats like Italian sausage or chicken or shellfish like shrimp, lobster and crab.

Add cheese such as crumbled feta, finely chopped comte, mozzarella, Swiss or cheddar.
Add chopped olives.
Add chopped salami.
Add chopped grilled eggplant.

Add chopped artichoke bottoms.

Add chopped hardboiled eggs.

Add homemade croutons.

Add chopped roasted beets.

Brighten Up a Summer Corn Salad with Mexican Elote Spices

With an abundance of corn this summer, I've been grilling and salt-boiling corn on the cob. Seasoned with sea salt and black pepper...