Charcoal-Grilled Vegetables with Tomato and Marjoram Sauce

The vegetables for this dish are grilled from raw. They aren’t parboiled in advance. The sort of overhead grill most cookers have, which chefs know as a salamander, does not cook this dish properly. If you have a barbecue set in the garden shed, that would be perfect.

These grilled vegetables make a good first course. You would need to avoid duplicating the ingredients in your main course, naturally. Maybe give a tossed salad instead. The dish, without the tomato sauce, will partner any grilled meat and I use grilled vegetables with sirloin steak and Meaux mustard sauce on my own menu.

The grilling process leaves a line of black marks from the bars of the grill. I find this quite appealing but have come across people who assume the vegetables have been burnt or carelessly cooked. I am sure you would not allow such silly people into your homes, however.

Ingredients

  • 12 tender young leeks
  • 12 baby sweetcorn
  • 12 young carrots from a bunch
  • 12 baby turnips
  • 12 small asparagus
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Sauce

  • 2 lb (900 g) tomatoes
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped
  • 1 small onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 sprig fresh marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

Method

The sauce

  1. Skin the tomatoes by dropping them in boiling water for 10 seconds and then peeling. Cut out the cores, de-seed them and then chop them finely.
  2. Warm the olive oil and then gently sauté the garlic and onion for 5 minutes so that they are cooked but not coloured.
  3. Add the tomato and the leaves from the sprig of marjoram. Let this simmer for 25 minutes until the sauce is no longer watery.
  4. Adjust the seasoning with sugar, black pepper and salt.

The vegetables

  1. Wash the vegetables and where necessary peel or trim them. Pat them thoroughly dry on kitchen paper and brush with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Grill the vegetables in the order of how much cooking time they need. First turnips, then carrots, then leeks, sweetcorn and asparagus.
  3. Seal them in the hottest part of the grill, then let them cook a little more slowly on the cooler edges. Inevitably one or two outer leaves of the leeks will become too black. Just peel them away and discard them.

To Complete

  1. Serve the vegetables hot with a couple of spoonfuls of the tomato and marjoram sauce.
  2. The tomato and marjoram mixture is not sieved or liquidised like a pukka sauce. You can, of course, blend it if you prefer.
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