Grilled Bread Salad with Broccoli Rabe and Summer Squash

By • July 12, 2012 • 14 Comments

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Author Notes: Wondering why I’ve included a grilled bread and vegetable salad in a mayonnaise contest? (You’d be justified to ask that question!) It’s because mayonnaise makes a beautiful marinade for grilled vegetables. It may seem a little strange – but trust me, it’s really, really good. (Or trust chef Nate Appleman, who included a great recipe for mayonnaise-glazed grilled asparagus in Food & Wine a few years ago.) The mayonnaise creates a wonderful blistery crust on grilled vegetables, adding a ton of flavor and texture and elevating them into something pretty extraordinary. I’ve chosen a mix of broccoli rabe and summer squash -- and if you’ve never had grilled broccoli rabe, you’re in for a real treat. To the mayo marinade, I’ve added lemon for brightness, cumin seed and smoked paprika for smokiness, and garlic and Aleppo pepper for a little kick. This bold concoction of flavors soaks into the squash and clings to the leaves and florets of the broccoli rabe, resulting in a delicious smoky char that perfectly complements their natural sweet-bitter flavors. The charred broccoli rabe is downright addictive with its crispy, almost papery texture. I originally intended to dress the bread salad with a lemon vinaigrette (with a touch of mayo for creaminess) but the flavor of the grilled vegetables is so bold, so delicious, and so balanced that nothing more is needed. It may not be your typical mayonnaise-based salad, but I’d wager that with one taste, you’ll have a newfound love for mayo.EmilyC

Serves 4

For mayonnaise marinade

  • 1 cup mayonnaise (full fat)
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • Zest and juice (about ¼ cup) from 2 lemons
  • 2 garlic cloves, mashed into a paste
  • 1 T kosher salt
  • 1 tsp Aleppo pepper (1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes can be substituted)
  • 1 tsp Spanish smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin seed

For grilled vegetables and bread salad

  • 2 or 3 mixed summer squash (about 1.5 lbs), cut into ½” thick rounds (I used a mix of zucchini and yellow squash)
  • 1 large bunch broccoli rabe -- thick, tough lower ends of stalks removed. Split lengthwise any stalks that are more than ½” thick. (Young, tender broccoli can be substituted, prepped same way as broccoli rabe)
  • 4 slices from the center of a loaf of crusty bread (ciabatta or sourdough works well), cut into 1/2" slices
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil for brushing bread
  • olive oil for brushing grill grate
  • handful of torn basil and mint for garnish
  • ¼ cup of toasted pine nuts or toasted, chopped almonds
  • extra virgin olive oil and fresh lemon juice, to taste
  1. To prepare mayo marinade: In a large bowl, whisk the mayonnaise with the olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, salt, smoked spanish paprika, aleppo pepper, and cumin seed until smooth and emulsified.
  2. To prep vegetables: To the bowl of marinade, add the summer squash. Rinse thoroughly the broccoli rabe to remove any grit hiding among the leaves. Add the broccoli rabe to the bowl with the summer squash; toss to evenly coat with the marinade. (Don’t dry the broccoli rabe after rinsing -- the bit of water clinging to the leaves will thin the marinade and gently steam the stalks as they’re grilling, allowing any tough stalks to get tender.) Allow the vegetables to marinate at room temperature for about 30 minutes, tossing once or twice to make sure they’re evenly coated.
  3. To prepare grill: Meanwhile, prepare a gas grill with all burners on medium, or a charcoal grill with hot coals. Brush the grilling rack with olive oil.
  4. To grill vegetables: When the grill is ready, arrange the broccoli rabe in a single layer on the grill. Grill about 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until tender and blistered in spots. (Taste if you're unsure if the stalks are tender.) If the stalks are charring quickly but aren't tender, spray or drizzle a few drops of water on them. Remove from grill onto a large platter or sheet pan to cool. (You don’t want to stack the broccoli rabe while it’s still hot because it’ll lose its crisp, papery texture.) Repeat with the summer squash, grilling a few minutes on each side or until tender and nicely blistered in spots.
  5. To grill bread: Brush each slice of bread (top and bottom) with about about 1 T of oil, or enough to evenly and thoroughly coat each side. Season with a pinch of kosher salt and a few grinds of pepper. Grill the bread on both sides, checking frequently, until charred in spots, a few minutes per side. You want the bread to be crusty but soft in the middle. When the bread is cool enough to handle, cut it into 1/2-inch cubes.
  6. To assemble salad: On a large serving platter, place the bread cubes, grilled broccoli rabe, and summer squash. Garnish with toasted nuts and basil and mint. Season to taste with kosher salt and pepper and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice if needed. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Comments (14) Questions (0)

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almost 2 years ago gingerroot

Gosh, I'll admit I've never been a big mayo fan but this alone might change that. This sounds amazing!

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almost 2 years ago EmilyC

Thanks gingerroot! It's kind of cool that the mayo plays the leading role in the salad but then steps aside to let the vegetables have the limelight. So humble that mayo! : )

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almost 2 years ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Wow. This looks SO good. Splendiferous! I have a powerful love of grilled broccoli raab, and grilled bread. I can only imagine mayo makes them even better.

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almost 2 years ago EmilyC

Thanks, 5&s! I'm absolutely giddy about this mayo marinade right now and kind of want to put it on anything and everything. (Hope to try grilled radicchio and fennel soon.) The broccoli rabe comes off the grill so crispy (the leaves practically shatter) that it almost tastes like it's been fried (but better). Yet another example of how high heat + fat is a beautiful thing! : )

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almost 2 years ago lapadia

Wow EmilyC, I love bread salad of any kind, and I can totally picture the blistering mayo marinade, sounds delicious!

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almost 2 years ago EmilyC

Thanks lapadia! I'm going to be making this salad (and variations of it) all summer. And I'm excited that I've found such a good way to prepare summer squash since there's typically no shortage of it from now til September.

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almost 2 years ago Kukla

Mayonnaise is a perfect marinade for many things; I mix mayo with some ketchup and rub it all over chicken a couple hours before roasting and you should see how beautiful it looks and delicious taste. Because of all the ingredients which are in mayonnaise, it enriches even inexpensive and a little dry fish and if you add some mayo to any burgers or meatloaf, they will always be very tasty and moist. That is why I am sure your salad is very yummy Emily!

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almost 2 years ago EmilyC

Thanks for this, Kukla! I've heard of mayo marinades for meat and fish but I've never tried them. (I'll bet a mayo-marinated grilled chicken would be great alongside this salad.). Suspect my consumption of mayo is going to skyrocket this summer! : )

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almost 2 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Yum! This salad sounds fantastic. I can't wait to try this technique for mayo marinated grilled veggies.

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almost 2 years ago EmilyC

Thanks HLA! This is absolutely my new favorite technique for preparing broccoli rabe and summer squash -- they positively burst with flavor when they come off the grill!

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over 1 year ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thank you for this recipe and idea! I loved, loved, loved the marinated grilled veggies. I think I'll try the marinade on some lacinato kale next. I did need to turn the grill down for the bread. Next time I think I'll also try brushing the marinade on the bread instead of olive oil - I think it will work brilliantly! Cheers to a broadening my grilling horizons!

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over 1 year ago EmilyC

So happy you tried and liked it, HLA! And heck, why NOT brush the bread with the marinade...sure that would be delicious! I like your idea of trying this method with lacinato kale...let me know how it turns out if you try it.

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almost 2 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I love mayo on just about anything, I totally get it regarding the marinade for the veggies. Sounds so delicious!

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almost 2 years ago EmilyC

Thanks so much, sdebrango! It's a wonderful marinade...and you can actually taste the different components of it (the cumin, lemon, and smoked paprika) in the finished salad. So often I find marinades to be totally lacking and not worthwhile. You'll have to give it a try!