So far this summer, my trips to the farmer’s market have been largely uninspiring. With the cool, wet weather that we are having in Seattle, summer produce is late arriving. My most recent trip, however, brought a wealth of inspiration. This particular farmer has been using a greenhouse to help summer along so I was able to find my first “warm weather” produce.
I decided to take advantage of one of our few sunny days and do some grilling. This, combined with some leftover chicken and a couple of ingredients from the pantry produced a wonderful main dish salad. Here’s the ingredients.
To start, I cut the bell pepper into quarters, removing the seeds and what not and then cut the eggplant and zucchini into planks about 1/2″ thick. Then I cut the sweet onions into quarters and pushed them, as well as the garlic, onto skewers. I rubbed everything down with olive oil and then seasoned them all with salt and pepper.
I started the onions and the garlic on the top rack of the grill and then walked away … for too long. Sigh. Burned. That’ll teach me for trying to do three projects at one time. I forged ahead and put the rest of the veggies on the hot grill. Flipping them as they browned …
… and removing them as they cooked through.
I decided the garlic was a goner (and it ended up being unneeded), but went ahead and peeled the charred layers off of the onions so that I could use them. I chopped everything into 1/2″ pieces, including a couple of the greens off of the sweet onions.
I stirred together the pesto, lemon juice and mayo and chopped the chicken. Finally I combined all the ingredients in a large bowl and tossed the whole mix together.
GRILLED VEGETABLE CHOPPED SALAD WITH CREAMY PESTO DRESSING
serves 2 generously
This salad can easily be made with prepared pesto and mayonnaise. However, if you have the time, take it and make a batch of pesto and homemade mayo. Put any leftover pesto into an ice cube tray and freeze. That way you’ll have a tasty touch of summer all year round. I used two “ice cubes” worth of pesto in the dressing. Mayonnaise from scratch might sound hard, but it’s easier than you think (especially if you have an immersion blender) and totally worth it. I like to use Alton Brown’s recipe (which I’ve added below) and Chef John’s method (here’s a link). If you can’t find new sweet onions, use a sliced mature sweet onion (for the bulb) and scallions (for the greens). I used leftovers from a rotisserie chicken to keep my kitchen cool.
1 zucchini, cut into 1/2″ planks
1 small eggplant, cut into 1/2″ planks
1 red bell pepper, quartered and seeded
6 new sweet onions, bulbs quartered, some of the greens chopped
10 cloves garlic (optional)
1/4 cup pesto
1/2 cup homemade mayonnaise (see recipe below)
juice of 1/2 lemon
6 ounces cooked chicken, chopped
2-3 ounces Parmesan cheese
4-5 leaves romaine lettuce, chopped
Prepare grill for cooking. Grill all the vegetables, flipping as they brown, until they are softened and cooked through. Cool, then cut into 1/2″ pieces.
Stir together the pesto, mayonnaise and lemon juice.
In a large bowl, toss together the cooled and chopped vegetables, onion greens, chicken, lettuce, cheese and dressing. Divide between plates. Enjoy!
Alton Brown’s Mayonnaise
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
2 pinches sugar
2 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 cup oil, safflower or corn
In a glass bowl, whisk together egg yolk and dry ingredients. Combine lemon juice and vinegar in a separate bowl then thoroughly whisk half into the yolk mixture. Start whisking briskly, then start adding the oil a few drops at a time until the liquid seems to thicken and lighten a bit, (which means you’ve got an emulsion on your hands). Once you reach that point you can relax your arm a little (but just a little) and increase the oil flow to a constant (albeit thin) stream. Once half of the oil is in add the rest of the lemon juice mixture.
Continue whisking until all of the oil is incorporated. Leave at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours then refrigerate for up to 1 week.