There are the two main reasons for making this salad: First, the grill does all the work, freeing you from a hot kitchen in the summer, and second, it’s crazy good. The mayonnaise marinade for the vegetables creates a wonderful blistery crust. 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. The marinade soaks into the squash and clings to the leaves and florets of the broccoli rabe, resulting in a delicious smoky char that perfectly complements the natural sweet-bitter flavors. —EmilyC
Test Kitchen Notes
WHO: EmilyC is an environmental scientist who knows a thing or two about the power of mayonnaise and aioli.
WHAT: A spicy-crunchy-creamy salad with an abundance of glorified croutons.
HOW: Marinate broccoli rabe and summer squash in a spicy mayonnaise mixture and grill each until crispy and charred. Mix the vegetables with cubed grilled bread and top with fresh herbs, toasty pine nuts, and lemon juice.
WHY WE LOVE IT: We would never think to marinate vegetables in mayonnaise, but now we have seen the light -- and there’s no looking back. The mayonnaise serves its predictable creamy role, but it also imparts an addictive spiciness to the sometimes-bland vegetables, and creates a crisp outer layer. That means there’s no sogginess in sight. —The Editors
For the mayonnaise marinade
lemons, juiced and zested (about 1/4 cup lemon juice)
garlic cloves, mashed into a paste
Aleppo pepper (or 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes)
Spanish smoked paprika
For the grilled vegetables and bread salad
or 3 mixed summer squash (about 1 1/2 pounds), cut into 1/2 inch-thick rounds
large bunch broccoli rabe (or young, tender broccoli)
1/2-inch slices from the center of a loaf of crusty bread (ciabatta or sourdough works well)
extra-virgin olive oil for brushing bread
Olive oil for brushing grill grate
torn basil and mint for garnish
toasted pine nuts or toasted, chopped almonds
extra virgin olive oil and fresh lemon juice, to taste
In This Recipe
To prepare the broccoli rabe, remove thick, tough lower ends of stalks. Split lengthwise any stalks that are more than 1/2-inch thick. If you are using young, tender broccoli, prepare it in the same way.
To prepare the mayonnaise 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 prepare the vegetables: To the bowl of marinade, add the summer squash. Rinse the broccoli rabe thoroughly to remove any grit hiding among the leaves. Add it to the bowl with the summer squash, then toss with the marinade to coat the vegetables evenly. (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 prepare a charcoal grill with hot coals. Brush the grilling rack with olive oil.
To grill the vegetables: When the grill is ready, arrange the summer squash rounds evenly across the grill grate. Grill for a few minutes on each side, or until tender and nicely blistered in spots. Remove the squash from grill. Next, arrange the broccoli rabe in a single layer on the grill. Grill for 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 the grill and place on 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.)
To grill the bread: Brush each slice of bread (top and bottom) with about about 1 tablespoon 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. Turn down the heat if needed. 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, basil, and mint. Season with kosher salt and pepper to taste, then drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and lemon juice to taste. Serve warm or at room temperature.