Incredibly flavorful, and satisfying enough to enjoy as a light meal! Grilled asparagus, zucchini, and orange bell peppers, with feta cheese, smoky "meaty" roasted garlic vinaigrette, and a sweet syrupy reduced balsamic glaze. Inspired by a version with grilled chicken I created 15 years ago while cooking at a private club. Since the roasted garlic vinaigrette would not leave my consciousness, I decided the world needed this! Switch up the salad ingredients with grilled corn, scallions, cauliflower, or beets. Use up extra dressing in a pasta salad, marinaded vegetable salad, or simply on more grilled veg. The whole deal would be awesome paired with rice, potatoes, or quality sourdough to turn it into a hearty meal. —Andrea Hayley-Sankaran
Wash and dry whole asparagus, zucchini and bell pepper. Snap the woody ends off the asparagus at their natural break point, slice the zucchini into 3/4-inch batons about 2 inches long, and slice the bell peppers into thick slices. Combine vegetables in a large bowl and toss with olive oil, salt, and black pepper.
Heat your grill on medium heat, and grill vegetables until blackened in some spots. (I recommend using lower heat to preserve the integrity of the oil. You want to avoid smoking the oil.)
Alternately, roast your vegetables while roasting the garlic (see instructions for roasting garlic below) on a parchment lined baking sheet at 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Chop, and wash your red leaf lettuce. Spin dry in a salad spinner. Chop the tomatoes. Crumble the feta.
Make the roasted garlic vinaigrette, according to the instructions below.
To serve, I recommend tossing the greens in roasted garlic vinaigrette before transferring the lettuce to a large family-style salad bowl, or portioning into individual bowls. Artfully arrange the toppings on the salad, and then drizzle with more vinaigrette. Finish with the balsamic glaze and fresh herbs.
NOTE: Balsamic glaze can be purchased in stores, but if you wish to make it from scratch, heat a portion of balsamic vinegar (1/2 to 1 cup) in a small saucepan. Simmer just until it starts to thicken. Cool, and transfer to a squeeze bottle. Alternately, use a spoon to accomplish the artful drizzle. Or you could also use straight vinegar as a garnish.
For the roasted garlic vinaigrette
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Slice the top edge off each garlic bulb so that the tip of each clove is just exposed. Place, cut side up, in a small oven-proof dish. Cover bulbs in 1/2 cup olive oil. Cover dish with tin foil or a lid. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the bulbs just start to brown.
NOTE: An alternate way to “roast garlic” is by simmering in oil on the stovetop. You need to peel the garlic cloves first. Then simmer on low until the cloves start to brown. The cloves will not get as soft as when baking in the oven, so you may need to chop them up a bit before adding to the vinaigrette.
After the bulbs have cooled enough to handle, squeeze the garlic out of the cloves into a mixing bowl. (The garlic will be soft.)
Add all the olive oil from your baking dish, along with the water, honey, red wine vinegar, salt, and black pepper to the mixing bowl. In a separate container, mix the remaining 1/2 cup olive oil with the canola oil. Add the prepared oil into the other ingredients in a thin stream, while whisking continuously. The whisking will emulsify the oil and break up the roasted garlic into small pieces.