Timing has always been our biggest challenge when guests come over for dinner. Janine says it’s because we make things too complicated. Instead of setting out a couple of appetizers and letting everyone dig in, we try to provide a steady flow of offerings until the main courses are ready.
When this approach works, it makes for a relaxed and memorable meal. When it doesn’t, hungry guests grow impatient and begin migrating toward the kitchen. Their offers to help are appreciated but unrealistic. As the old adage goes: “Too many cooks in the kitchen…”
Experience has taught us to have a couple of dishes already prepared for times when the kitchen gets backed up. We call these our “Party Staples”. They are used to occupy our guests while we struggle to get out of the weeds.
Grilled Summer Vegetables is one of our seasonal standbys. It can be prepared a day or two in advance and served at room temperature. A last-minute squeeze of Lemon is all that is needed.
Staples like these can hold the meal together when everything else seems to be coming apart.
- 2 Medium Zucchini
- 2 Medium Summer Squash
- 1 Small eggplant
- 2 Red Bell Peppers
- Olive Oil
- Salt and Pepper
- 1 lemon
Note: When shopping for vegetables, try to select Zucchini and Summer Squash that are about the same size and thickness. This will help create uniform slices. The eggplant should be cylindrical as opposed to bulbous. The ideal situation would have the thickness of both the Eggplant and Squash be about the same, although this may not be possible. Japanese eggplants work well in this dish.
Preheat the grill.
Slice Zucchini, Squash and Eggplant into ½ inch thick disks. Place the slices into a large bowl and coat liberally with olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Roast the Peppers (See detailed instructions in the “How To” section of this blog). Set aside until the final assembly of the dish.
Grill the vegetable slices on each side until nicely browned grill marks appear. To create quadillage or cross-marks, place each slice on a hot grill. Allow the first set of grill marks to appear. Then rotate each slice 90 degrees to create cross marks. Flip each one and repeat on the other side.
Note: Be careful not to burn the vegetables. They char very quickly when the grill is hot.
Remove grilled vegetables from the grill and allow them to cool. Arrange the vegetables (including the Roasted Bell Peppers) on a platter in a decorative fashion.
Squeeze fresh Lemon juice over them right before serving.