Parsley & Grilled Vegetable Salad

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Preparation info

    • Difficulty

      Easy

Appears in

Food of the Sun: A Fresh Look at Mediterranean Cooking

Food of the Sun

By Alastair Little and Richard Whittington

Published 1995

  • About

We are used to thinking of parsley as a herb to flavour dishes and, too often, as an automatic garnish. This is certainly the principal application for curly parsley, which otherwise mainly features in white sauces or is deep-fried as a classic accompaniment to whitebait. Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book, published in 1978, makes no reference at all to flat-leaf parsley - which is also known as Continental, Cyprus or Italian parsley - an indication of how recent a culinary phenomenon this vastly superior version of the herb is in our lives. In Mediterranean countries, flat-leaf parsley has always been eaten as a salad in its own right, its sharp yet subtle flavour providing a perfect counterpoint to so many dishes. Here it balances the blander tastes of aubergines, courgettes and peppers; its distinctive pepperiness and astringency giving definition and coherence to the other flavours.

The best way to grill the vegetables is on a barbecue, which adds its inimitable smokiness to the finished dish. However, a ridged grill pan also works adequately; an overhead grill does not. Take care not to over-oil the vegetables. A variation on the theme can be achieved by substituting grated Parmesan cheese for the breadcrumbs - say 55 g/2 oz.

Ingredients

  • large bunch of flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium-sized aubergines
  • 225 g/8 oz courgettes (2 large ones are best)
  • 1 red sweet pepper
  • 1 yellow sweet pepper
  • 8 spring onions
  • 4 thick slices of country-style bread
  • salt and pepper

For the Dressing

  • 15 salt-packed capers
  • 16 salt-cured black olives
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 4 Oven-dried Tomatoes
  • 150 ml/¼ pt extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper

Method

Preparation

If using the barbecue, light this before doing anything else. Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/gas7.

Pick over the parsley, remove and discard the stalks. Wash, spin-dry and reserve the leaves.

Smash and finely chop the garlic. Put to infuse in 4 tablespoons of the olive oil with some salt and pepper.

Cut the aubergines across into 5 mm/¼ in slices. Slice the courgettes lengthwise into 5 mm/¼ in strips. Halve and deseed the peppers. Trim the spring onions.

Brush the slices of bread on both sides with the garlic oil and toast on a baking tray in the oven until crisp and golden brown. Remove and, when cool enough, process to a fine crumb and reserve.

Make the dressing: rinse the capers and olives. Stone the olives and chop them and the capers, onion, garlic and tomatoes with a large-bladed knife. Do not use a processor, which will smash the ingredients to a mulch. Adjust the seasoning, if necessary. Put into a salad bowl with the olive oil and vinegar and stir.

Brush the vegetables with garlic oil and grill sequentially, starting with the aubergines, then doing the courgettes, followed by the peppers and last of all the spring onions, transferring them to a tray as they are done. Cut the pepper halves into strips.

Serving

Mix all the vegetables together in a large serving bowl. Add the parsley to the dressing and toss, then add to the vegetables and mix thoroughly. Scatter the crumbs on top.

As the aim is only to cover the dish with a thin crunchy topping; you may not use all of the crumbs. Any left over can be kept in a screw-top jar in the refrigerator.

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