When the garden bounty seems to have no end, many gardeners throw up their hands exclaiming, “It’s coming out my ears!” When you have this much of a veggie harvest, you can afford to make entire meals of that harvest. This simple dish is a prime example. This is a long instruction, but once you have tried the regimen you will discover how easy it is to turn out an amazing meal. You will end up with different seasonings and a different variety of veggies depending on what is in your garden or at the market. This is an adventure waiting to happen!
Take what you have: zucchini, yellow crookneck, different types of eggplant, different types of sweet peppers, herbs galore, and some garlic. These veggies hit the kitchen about the same time of year in our neck of the woods. When the bounty hits, this is one of the first meals we enjoy.
In the fall I would do all the roasting in the oven. Since this pan-roasting takes about a third of the time that the oven roasting does, we save our kitchen (and out cook) from having a heat stroke. (Though you can read more here about roasted vegetables.)
Pan Roasted Vegetable Salad Ingredients
- Summer squash
- Sweet peppers
- Immature winter squash
- Several cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
- Cooking oil of choice
- Salt and pepper
- Grated mozzarella cheese
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh basil or oregano or thyme or a combination of all
- One lemon, juiced
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
Pan Roasted Vegetable Salad Steps
- Wash the vegetables.
- Slice off both ends of the peppers, squash, and eggplant. For each vegetable, you want two lengthwise slices. You will slice them in half the long way, but before you do, stand the vegetable on its bottom end. Decide where you will slice from the top to the bottom but before slicing through the middle, slice a bit off of both sides of the vegetable. This provides two flat sides on each vegetable piece for browning, rather than leaving each slice with a rounded bottom.
- For rounded eggplant (as opposed to tube-shaped varieties), consider slicing it into rounds. The rounds should be about 1/2 inch thick. The idea is to get the vegetables in sizes and shapes to cook through consistently so you do not have part of the slice over-cooked and the rest of it undercooked.
- For peppers, pull the seeds out leaving the peppers as whole as possible.
- Consider using slices of immature winter squash if you have it. In this case, pick the squash in a really young state and slice it into rounds, as you do with round eggplant.
- Toss the sliced vegetables into a large bowl and drizzle with oil. I use an olive oil for this, controlling the cooking heat so that the oil does not reach its smoke point. Olive oil gives the vegetables a flavor I love. Of course, they get even more olive oil with the vinaigrette dressing that goes on at the end.
- If you are making a fresh herb vinaigrette, strip the herb leaves from the stems and toss the stems in with the vegetable slices. Some of the flavor will transfer.
- Toss the contents of the bowl to be sure all pieces are coated with oil and then allow them to sit for thirty minutes or more.
- Do not add salt at this point as it will pull juices from your vegetables. Hold the salt until the vegetable slices are in the hot skillet.
- Heat one or two heavy skillets, depending on how many vegetables you are roasting. We have two extra-large cast iron skillets to use for this purpose. Oil the skillets, putting in just enough oil to brush over the bottom and sides of each skillet. The vegetables have oil on them already, so very little more is needed.
- Toss in the slices of garlic and watch closely. Turn the slices over before they begin to burn. The garlic will have browned just a bit. When browned on both sides, remove the garlic to a cutting board to be minced for salad topping at the end. Roasting the garlic in the skillet first adds garlic flavor to the oil which will be passed to the rest of the vegetables. If you tried roasting the garlic with the vegetables, it would probably end up burning.
- Place the vegetables in the skillet(s) in a single layer with just a bit of breathing room between the pieces. This positioning ensures a good roast rather than a stewing. If vegetables are too crowded, they release their juices at the same time and the slices stew in their own juice. This is not the end of the world, but the flavor is much more intense and complex if the vegetables roast.
- Sprinkle the vegetable slices with sea salt and freshly ground pepper to your own taste.
- Allow the slices to cook for a couple of minutes and then cover with a loosely fitting lid, one that allows the steam to escape. If you do this cooking without a lid, allow a little longer cooking time.
- While the vegetables roast, mix up your vinaigrette to your liking. You may want less lemon, more oil or more herbs. Suit yourself. It’s your work of art.
- When the vegetable slices have just started to brown, flip them over and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Give them a couple of minutes and replace the lid.
- By the time the vegetables have some browning on both sides, they should be cooked all the way through. (Some of your vegetables may be cooked before the rest. Pull them out then put them back when the rest of the vegetables are done.)
- Sprinkle some grated mozzarella cheese over the tops, with lids in place, give a couple of minutes for the cheese to melt. Grated Romano is a nice addition here.
- Compose the salad plates or allow everyone to compose their own. By the time these salads get to the table they are close to room temperature which is where the flavor is at its finest. Drizzle them with dressing as desired.
- If you have any leftover vegetables, refrigerate them to use as snacks or salad toppings in the next two or three days.
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