This time of year, vegetables are abundant and make up the bulk of our diet. Recently I wanted to put together a meal cooked on the grill using only vegetables that can easily be found at the farmers’ market. The kitchen stays cool, and people who don’t have a garden aren’t left out. If you need to accomodate vegetarians and vegans at your table, this meal can have everyone at your table happily eating the same thing, with no need for special plates.
The only remotely exotic seasonings that you’ll need are Spanish smoked paprika, readily available as Pimenton de Vera at The Spanish Table and other specialty grocers, and some capers, preferably the kind preserved in salt.
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Four four moderate or two to three big eaters, you will need:
4 ears corn, cleaned and desilked
2-3 small to medium Italian eggplants (ie not the very thin Asian eggplants, but more pear-shaped ones)
3 cups good cherry tomatoes (Sungolds are my favorites)
1 good baguette or 4 thick slices good bread
1/4 cup capers, soaked if salted, rinsed if pickled
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 small bunch organic parsley, washed
3/4 cup good olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons Pimenton, Spanish smoked paprika
salt and pepper to taste
To make the green sauce:
Pull all the leaves off the parsley and put them in the food processor with the capers, two teaspoons of the chopped garlic, 1/2 cup of the olive oil, and lemon juice. process to a coarse sauce (don’t let it turn to a homogenous mush) and taste for seasoning. Don’t salt without tasting, since the capers tend to be salty. Set aside until needed.
Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and set aside.
Make a paste of the pimenton, 1/4 cup olive oil, and the rest of the chopped garlic. Season heavily with salt and pepper; I like about a teaspoon of salt, since this is the seasoning for the corn and eggplant. Cut the washed eggplant in horizontal disks about 1/3 inch in diameter, Rub the corn and the eggplant slices with the seasoning paste. Set the egplant aside on a plate, and wrap the corn ears individually in aluminum foil.
Heat the grill, and put the corn on first. Turn the ears regularly. they will take about 20-25 minutes to cook. Ten minutes before they are done, put the eggplant on and grill for 5 minutes on each side, a few minutes longer if needed. Put the baguette sections, halved lengthwise, on to toast for the last 5 minutes.
While the cooking proceeds, pour about a third of the green sauce over the halved cherry tomatoes. When the bread is toasted, brush each piece with a little green sauce, and heap the tomatoes on top. Arrange the other vegetables on the plates, serve the remaining green sauce separately in case it’s wanted on the eggplant, and dinner is served. Remove the foil from the corn before serving so that it can be properly admired, and don’t forget to wash and recycle the foil later.