There are as many versions of this vegetable dish as there are vegetables—or almost as many, since I would never grill members of the cabbage family, like broccoli or cauliflower. But pepper, squash, endive, onions, and root vegetables take on a new dimension when they are cooked, marinated in olive oil and herbs, and lightly grilled. They are best lukewarm or at room temperature, and should not be refrigerated after they are grilled or they lose the light smoky flavor. If you do not have Texas ham, use prosciutto or any country ham.
Cook the squashes in salted boiling water for 5 minutes. Remove and plunge into ice water for 2 minutes to stop the cooking. Drain them well. Do the same with the scallions, cooking them for only 2 minutes.
Rub the eggplants and peppers with a little olive oil. Season and put them in a roasting pan. Bake covered until tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and take out the eggplants, leaving the peppers covered in the pan to cool down. When the eggplants are cool, remove the stem ends and cut each one lengthwise in quarters. Uncover the peppers and peel, discarding all seeds and stems. Cut them into quarters. Mix the remaining olive oil and the thyme together. Put all the vegetables together and pour the mixture over. Toss very gently and marinate for 1 hour.
Start a charcoal fire.
Season the vegetables and grill them over a moderate fire for 5 to 10 minutes. Place the ham on plates and put the vegetables on the ham. Drizzle some of the aioli over the vegetables and serve the rest separately.
© 1986 Jeremiah Tower. All rights reserved.