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
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Mayonnaise-Based Salad