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But usually there are diminishing returns with this sort of wishful thinking—not so here. In a summer-changing recipe, chef/wizard April Bloomfield goes all Mike Teavee on some perfectly good grilled vegetables and every part comes out better.
Instead of leaving the vegetables in big, striped hunks like normal, she chops them into rough bits and mixes them into a loose, garlicky vinaigrette. (Don’t worry, city folk—if you don’t have a grill, you can use a grill pan or your broiler, or even char them over a gas burner, baba ghanoush-style.)
Here, Bloomfield opts for big slabs of red onion, radicchio, and fennel, but you could do this with pretty much any combination of grilled vegetables (or, what the heck, fruit!) that you’ve got—including those classic planks of zucchini and eggplant. When you’ve got leftovers of any of the above, this is a good place to stick them.
But why exactly does she do this? Why not just grill vegetables and wash dressing over them? Well, there’s the experiential part: “This is a chunky dressing that makes each bite of a salad taste different,” she writes. She wants to keep you surprised and engaged, ever fishing for the next sugary raisin at the bottom of the bowl of bran.
Likewise, this dressing will turn even plain greens into a complete, dynamic salad. But this also makes it a great completer for all sorts of other aimless dishes—a spoonful on steak or lamb, as she suggests, a shoveling onto crostini, or into potatoes or pasta or tuna salad.
But what I love most of all is that the vinaigrette tastes utterly new and familiar at once—like no salad dressing I’ve had, but smoky and sweet, like barbecues on the patio, like summer itself. What other happy foods should we infuse into sauces next? Toast? Kimchi? Oreo pie?
- 1 medium fennel bulb, outer layer, stalks and fronds removed, root end trimmed of brown bits
- 1 small red onion (about 1/4 pound), cut into 1/2-inch thick rounds
- 1 small head radicchio (outermost leaves removed, bottom trimmed of brown bits, quartered lengthwise) and cut into 1/2-inch thick wedges
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Maldon or another flaky sea salt
- 1 small garlic clove, very finely chopped
- A five-finger pinch of fresh mint leaves
- A five-finger pinch of fresh marjoram leaves
Got a genius recipe to share—from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected]. Thank you to our own Books Editor & Stylist Ali Slagle for this one.
Photos by James Ransom