My friends Jamie and Camilla are off to Tamworth today to debut “Bush Ranger School” – their new album of country music for kids. And we got to hear the brand new hot off the press CD on the weekend. Which was a great occasion for the second of my “Food to Share” series.
This one was served with three kinds of Tuscan flatbread (schiacciata), which sounds (and looks) much more elaborate than it is. I just made one batch of sourdough and mixed a third of it with olives and thyme oil, a third with semidried tomatoes and garlic oil, and a third with black grapes and rosemary oil (an idea stolen from Maggie Beer). I shall try to get round to posting the sourdough schiacciata recipe some time soon, but any kind of focaccia or Turkish bread would work well too .
- sliced fresh cherry tomatoes and cucumber
- chargrilled zucchini, capsicum, tromboncino, eggplant, and mango
- grilled garlic and yoghurt dipping sauce/spread
I’m big on the idea of minimal kitchen equipment. I’ve been seduced by specialist tools enough times. They have a brief honeymoon then sit on the shelf, gathering dust, cluttering space, while I go back to using the same basic kitchen stuff. It’s a real mission for a new piece of equipment to win a place in my kitchen these days. But the love affair with my griddle pan has now lasted long enough to be called a real relationship. Summer vegetables suit chargrilling so perfectly.
The Recipe: Chargrilled Summer Vegetables with Grilled Garlic and Yoghurt Sauce
The Yoghurt Sauce:
Thin, dipping sauce is nice too, but I think this is best with strained, labneh style yoghurt. So the first stage is to put some Greek yoghurt into a colander lined with cheesecloth (or a clean, chux-type dishcloth) over a bowl. If you have time, simply leave it for a few hours or overnight. If you are hurrying it up, let it drain for 10 minutes or so, then put a plate on top weighed down with something heavy to speed it up.
Roast some garlic, in its skin, on the griddle pan, until the skin is charred and the garlic is soft. Squash it with salt to make a paste.
When the yoghurt is nice and thick and spreadable, mix with the roast garlic paste to taste.
The Chargrilled Vegetables:
Slice the eggplant into 1.5 cm thick slices lengthways. Sprinkle with salt and allow to drain for a few minutes.
Slice zucchini and/or tromboncino diagonally into similar thickness slices.
Chop a capsicum into big chunks and de-seed.
Pour a little olive oil onto a plate and add a pinch of salt and some crushed garlic. Dip the vegetable slices in the garlic oil and grill, in batches, till they are just tender. Don’t overcook. If you can restrain yourself from moving them around too much you get the nice bar marks.
Besides serving on an antipasti platter, chargrilled vegetables are really good as a side dish, or as a topping on pizza, or in sandwiches.