I love grilled vegetables, as long as I can cook it on the stovetop in the warmth of the kitchen, and not on the outdoor grill. The outside temperature has finally dropped to below freezing here in the New York area the first time this winter season. I have been thinking snow. I’m glad to see that winter is here and, hopefully, here to stay for a while. Nothing like the change of season to energize our body, spirit, and the menu. My skis are tuned. So is my grill.
Grilling vegetables, such as eggplants, zucchinis, bell peppers, tomatoes and onions, is something I do frequently. These are the vegetables that compose a classic ratatouille and they taste harmoniously together. Grilling at high temperature caramelizes the vegetables and brings out the sweet and natural attribute of each vegetable. Assembling the vegetables in a stack, as Ellie Krieger has suggested, seems like a smart idea for plating. She also gave detailed instructions on how thick the vegetables should be sliced and the order they should be plated. Not something I normally think much about. But if that adds to our enjoyment of the dish, why not.
I picked up red bell pepper in the store instead of the orange one called for in the recipe. I didn’t pay enough attention to details; lesson learned. Then it dawned on me why you’d need the orange pepper. For the color contrast. Brilliant! I compensated by using a yellow plate for a punch of yellow. Other changes I made were: sliced onion very thin, cut bell pepper lengthwise and zucchini in planks to get the charred effects I wanted. A splash of red wine vinegar and a sprinkle of fresh basil chiffonade finished the stacked look.
The vegetable stack is beautiful, as it is irresistible, to ponder before cutting into it. The taste is complex, if you can get several kinds of vegetables in a single bite. I’d be stealing the idea to stack up the grilled vegetables as a plating alternative. Should a dish, any dish, look as good as it tastes? Perhaps I don’t think enough about plating design, since I believe taste is paramount. Some food for thoughts! Feel free to weigh in on this.
Please check out for more ideas from other home cooks at IHCC in celebration of the new year or the new season. Happy cooking and eating!
|Eggplant, zucchini, bell pepper, tomato and onion on a yellow plate|
|Red onion sliced thin, zucchini in long planks, pepper cut lengthwise|