Dry grilled vegetables chopped and tossed with extra virgin olive oil and crumbled feta. A healthy, flavourful and satisfying summer side dish. This post is sponsored by California Olive Ranch.
Grilled vegetables are my crack. Yes, yes, I’ve said the same about chocolate. And peanut butter. And smoked salmon. But really, grilled vegetables make me do that happy food dance, the one where you wiggle happily in your seat because the flavours make you giddy with pleasure. And this recipe for grilled vegetable salad was the cause of many a happy dance for me this summer. They seems so unassuming, those veggies. Oftentimes, they are the food you eat only because you know you are supposed to. But grilling does something magical to them. I swear it changes their very chemical makeup, making them infinitely delicious. Pair them with some really great olive oil and a sprinkle of feta and you’ll be doing the happy dance too. Get ready to shake your moneymaker, my friends.
Really, truly, this is a recipe I’ve been making all summer long. I haven’t shared it with you because, well…my husband and I would eat it too fast to take photos. But I was asked by California Olive Ranch to come up with a recipe to showcase some of their award-winning olive oils for the International Food Bloggers Conference in Seattle this month. I didn’t need to come up with a whole new recipe, I knew instantly that this salad was perfect. And I am delighted to say that, along with Janelle from Talk of Tomatoes and Erina from Shut Up and Cook, I will be showcasing the recipe in person at IFBC. We will have three different recipes, each made with different varietals of California Olive Ranch extra virgin olive oil. I have chosen to pair my happy dance salad with their Miller’s Blend, which they describe as bold and peppery. I felt it was the perfect complement to the slightly charred flavour of grilled eggplant, zucchini and peppers.
This recipe is remarkably easy to make, as long as you have a grill. I will also tell you a little secret, which may go against everything you’ve ever read about grilling veggies. Do not, I repeat, do NOT toss them with any oil or any seasonings before grilling. You simply place the sliced veggies on the grill and let them cook through and char just slightly. If you want, you can salt the eggplant slices a bit ahead of time to reduce any bitterness. But I have forgotten to do this on occasion and the salad turns out just as well. Once cookied, you take them off the grill, chop them and then, and ONLY then, do you toss with oil and seasonings. Somehow, this dry cooking really brings out all the wonderful veggie flavours. And adding the oil only after the cooking really helps the true olive oil flavour shine through.
IFBC has been on my blog conference wish list for a long time. It is run by Foodista, and I’ve heard only wonderful things about it. The speaker line up this year is fantastic, and includes an opening keynote by Dorie Greenspan. I am sincerely looking forward to the three-day event, and was attending as it was, when Janelle invited me to be a part of the California Olive Ranch panel. I am no olive oil expert, so I’m looking forward to learning more about olive oil tasting myself. It’s a jam-packed conference, and I can tell you right now that I don’t expect to get much sleep. But it’s all about food, cooking and writing, and you know how I feel about these things…dream, dream, dream.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by California Olive Ranch. All opinions, recipes and photography are my own.