Thursday, August 5, 2010

Grilled summer veggie and chickpea salad

We're so lucky to live near the Mountain View Farmers Market.  It's one of the largest farmers markets in Bay Area and has a great mix of Californian and Asian produce, organic and non-organic.  It even includes an amazing fresh seafood vendor--Mission Fresh Fish!  But. This is post is not about fish.  It is about a really tasty, not too complicated, vegetarian, very filling, peak of summer dinner.  Jon, a good Texas man, grew up loving meat with every meal, and even he raves about this, feeling quite satisfied without a bit of meat in sight.

(Although I, too, love my meat, fish, poultry, and game, I'm a huge fan of vegetarian both for taste, health, and environmental reasons, so I try to make sure we have at least one vegetarian meal per week and another one or two meals that are either vegetarian or meat lite.)

There's summer sweetness from the corn and tomatoes offset by the creamy eggplant which soaks up the dressing and releases tangy bursts on each bite.  The summer squash adds smokiness, sugar snap peas gives it some crunch, and of course the chickpeas are sure to fill you up.  Basically, a perfect summer main course salad.

1 Japanese/Chinese eggplant, about 1/2 lb, cut into thick slices*
1-2 small summer squash, any kind, cut into thick slices. Pattypan are really nice for this.
1 ear sweet corn, unshucked
handful sugar snap peas, ends removed, cut into 1/2" pieces
handful cherry tomatoes, cut in halve
1 15oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed**

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2-2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon finely minced shallot, optional
salt and pepper to taste

Soak the ear of corn in water while the grill heats. Brush the eggplant and squash slices lightly with olive oil. Heat the grill on high.

Start grilling the corn first.  It will take 20-25 minutes.  The husk will look charred on all sides when it is done. After the corn has grilled about 10 minutes, add the eggplant and squash slices.

While the vegetables are cooking, make a red wine vinaigrette.  We add everything to a small, plastic container with a tight lid that we then shake until well mixed.  You can whisk the olive oil into the vinegar instead if you prefer.  A tart dressing is great for salads like this to balance the sweetness from the corn. As the only salt is in the dressing, we usually make the dressing a bit saltier than tastes good on its own.

Put the chickpeas in a large bowl. Remove the eggplant and squash from the grill and when cool enough to handle, dice them and add to the chickpeas.  Add about half the vinaigrette to the bowl.

When the corn is done and cool enough to handle, cut the kernels from the cob, adding to the bowl.  Add the sugar snap peas and tomatoes and the rest of the vinaigrette. Mix everything together and taste to see if the seasonings need to be adjusted.

Makes 2 large, filling servings.

*Japanese/Chinese eggplants are long and thin with fewer seeds.  If you don't have access to these, use a small eggplant, about 1/2 lb.

** With all the posts about black eyed peas recently, I'd be tempted to try fresh beans (cooked of course!) if I found them at our farmers market.

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