Toss this together for perfect party hors d'oeuvres or for dinner all by itself. It's all about color and blessed Mediterranean flavors in the vegetables as well as the aïoli: one anchovy, the other pesto. Make one batch, divide it in half, and flavor them up.
A note: use any vegetables that are in season. I used the ones below because it is late spring here, and I can still get local asparagus. But feel free to use whatever you can get your hands on. There are no bad combinations. Also, it's easiest to grill all of these in a perforated grill skillet or wok. —boulangere
several as an hors d'oeuvre, 2 for dinner
For the Aïoli
cloves garlic, peeled and minced
fruity olive oil
Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon, strained
anchovy fillets, minced
A handful of your favorite mushrooms - if large cut in half
dozen mini sweet peppers, various colors
zucchini squash, trimmed, sliced on a long diagonal 1/4" thick
Light the barbecue. While the fire burns down or it heats up, make your aïoli and set aside to let the flavors blend. Place garlic and salt in bowl of a food processor. Pulse to blend. With the machine running, add yolks 1 at a time, letting each blend for a few seconds before adding the next. Next, add the canola oil a tablespoon at a time - one you'd use to eat soup is fine. Afterwards, add olive oil in a slow, steady stream. Finally, add the lemon zest and juice. Aïoli should be gentle and soft, perfect for dipping. If it appears to custardy, add some more olive oil in the same manner as above. Turn out into 2 small, pretty bowls. Think of them as skirts for the sisters. Color up one with a couple of tablespoons of pesto (I freeze mine in ice cube trays - 1 or 2 cubes would be fine) and perfume the other with the anchovy fillets. Stir each, taste, and adjust seasonings as you like - I like to punch up the lemon in the anchovy aïoli. Set aside and let sit at room temp while you clean and grill the vegetables.
You're going to toss each of your vegetables in olive oil, salt, and pepper, keeping them separate because they'll grill for different amounts of time. Use one bowl to toss each of them, then clump them together on a couple of sheet pans lined with parchment.
Now to the grill. Take along the platter on which you plan to arranged your vegetables so you can transfer them right to it as they come off the grill. Spread out your coals, set the rack on, set your grilling pan on top and let it get hot. Grill each vegetable with its mates, moving them around so that they grill up fairly evenly. This goes pretty fast because, really, all you're trying to do is get a good char on them without cooking away their crispness. Arrange each on your platter as they finish; they are all intrinsically beautiful, so don't fret the perfect distribution. Add your bowls of aïoli, grab a large stack of napkins. Don't even think of using forks. Pour a crisp white wine. Toast your party, even if it is you and your perfect other.