A Low-Stress Guide To The Perfect Vegetarian Grilled Dinner Party

Grilled Vegetables with Whipped Ricotta

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Summertime is often associated with fun, outdoor barbecues—and plenty of grilled seasonal veggies. Even if you don’t have a grill in your backyard, however, you can still enjoy the delicious flavors of grilled vegetables. This recipe gets that nice charred taste using a cast-iron pan, so you can make it inside or out. Not only that, but this one recipe can really serve as a guide to creating a perfect vegetarian-friendly dinner, light enough for even the warmest summer nights.

From How To Eat With One Hand, a new cookbook full of “recipes and other nourishment for new and expectant parents,” this low-lift dinner starts with submerging the summer veggies in salty water. “Grilled eggplant and zucchini can be either melt-in-your-mouth miraculous or tough and gamey,” write co-authors Christine Flynn and Emma Knight. “Soaking sliced eggplant and zucchini in heavily salted water (the simplest form of brine) before grilling is one way to encourage tenderness.”

Pair the grilled vegetables with a light and fluffy whipped ricotta, flavored with rosemary leaves—and plenty of healthy olive oil (as they write, “always more olive oil”). The dish is finished with some crusty pieces of sourdough toast to dip into the mixture and enjoy alongside the vegetables.

Grilled Vegetable Heaven With Whipped Ricotta

Serves 2 as a light meal, 4 as a side

  • 2 Japanese eggplants, cut in half lengthwise
  • 2 zucchinis, sliced on the diagonal into ¼-inch rounds
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 spring rosemary, leaves separated and chopped
  • Salt and pepper

  • Toasted pumpkin seeds
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 slices sourdough or bread of choice, toasted

  1. Fill a large bowl with room-temperature water and salt it until it tastes like the sea. Place the eggplant and zucchini in the bowl, and let it soak for 30 minutes at room temperature. Drain, then pat the vegetables dry using a clean tea towel. If time is of the essence, you can skip soaking the vegetables, but they might not come out quite as tender.
  2. In a food processor, purée the ricotta with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, the rosemary, and a pinch of salt for 1 to 2 minutes until light and fluffy.
  3. In a cast-iron pan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over high heat. When it starts to shimmer, place the eggplant in the oil, flesh side down, and arrange the zucchini in a single layer (you may need to grill in batches). Cook for 5 to 6 minutes, until the bottoms get nice and brown. Using tongs, flip each piece of eggplant and zucchini and cook through, about 5 to 6 minutes more. Use a lid to keep spattering to a minimum. If grilling in batches, transfer the cooked vegetables to a rimmed baking dish and keep warm in the oven.
  4. Using a spatula, divide the ricotta between 2 plates. Arrange the roasted veggies overtop. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Garnish with the pumpkin seeds and more olive oil (always more olive oil) and serve immediately with sourdough toast on the side.

Excerpted from How To Eat With One Hand. Copyright © 2020 by Christine Flynn and Emma Knight. Photography by Suech and Beck. Published by Penguin Canada, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Reproduced by arrangement with the publisher. All rights reserved.


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