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Grilled salad recipes

Alexandra Greeley is a passionate foodie whose kitchen career has included a stint as food editor of Vegetarian Times magazine, where she learned a whole new culinary discipline.

Super Salads on the Grill

As summer moves along, chances are, you have already wrangled with your outdoor grill. You've set the menu, invited friends over, and lit the fire. Maybe you are cooking with coal, maybe with gas. But you've honed your skills, by now, and have probably eaten pretty well. So why not put your grilling skills to the test by firing up a meal that is really offbeat? Salad and grill are not two terms you'd imagine go together, but, get ready, these grilled salads will give you a new - and healthier - view of the barbecue.

Grilled Vegetables

Grilled Steak is Child's Play

Folks who are passionate about barbecuing know that throwing a steak on the fire is child's play. It's that whole other world of grilling possibilities that makes grilling the cook's choice for tasty foods. Even for salads.

Salads on the Grill

While "grilled salad" may seem like a contradiction in culinary terms, a bowl of seasoned grilled veggies tossed with an on-target dressing results in a scrumptious dish that accentuates the vegetables' natural sweetness. If you understand how the grill's heat quickly caramelizes the sugars while adding a smoky flavor profile, you'll know why fire-cooked veggies tossed in a bowl can demand center stage at a cookout.

Grilling Tips

Here are a few cooking tips to make your grilled salads tasty and equally as impressive.

1. Start with a clean grill. Whether you use gas or charcoal, make sure your equipment is clean before you grill the vegetables. Scrape the grill to prevent old and burnt food particles from sticking to your vegetables. Also, empty out the ashes, if you are using charcoal. This will allow heat to be distributed more evenly.

2. Preheat. For best results, if you are using charcoal, preheat your fire long enough that the coals burn down to the white-ash stage. This means that the coals have cooled down and won't scorch and ruin your food. If you are using a gas grill, always follow manufacturer's directions.

3. Marinate and oil. Be sure the vegetables are lightly oiled, either with an oil-based marinade or by simply rubbing them with oil, before you put them over the fire. This prevents them from burning from the intense heat and helps to seal in their moisture.

4. Use a nonstick grill grate. Be sure to use a nonstick vegetable grill grate or rack (a large one can hold several cups of cut-up vegetables) rather than relying on the usual ribbed grill grate. The small perforations in the vegetable grate keep the vegetables from slipping into the fire, but still allow for that unparalleled grilled flavor.

5. Cover it up. Use a covered barbecue and lower the heat. Cooking over an open flame will char, rather than slow-cook, the vegetables. And if you are using charcoal, be sure to use plenty of quality briquettes - they will burn longer with a more even heat.

6. Use long-handled tongs. To prevent burns, use long-handled tongs or a spatula so you can stir and then remove the veggies when they have reached doneness.

Grilled Salad Recipes

Note that cooking times are always approximate as there are many variables that can affect the grilling time. The quality of the coal or the temperature at which a gas grill is set, the weather, even how opened or closed the grill vents are, or how often you lift the lid of a covered grill to check on the cooking can add or subtract a few minutes.

Mixed Grilled Vegetable Salad

Serves 4 to 6

This versatile dish can be composed of any vegetable combination. The baby potatoes are particularly sweet, and make a nice addition.

Vegetables:
2 red bell peppers, cored, cut into long, thin strips
10 baby potatoes, quartered
1 sweet potato, cubed
2 Asian eggplants, stemmed, quartered
1 leek, rinsed well, quartered lengthwise
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed
1 large onion, peeled, cut into eighths
2 yellow summer squash, cut into chunks

Marinade:
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white wine
1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese

Directions:
1. Combine all the vegetables in a large baking dish. Combine the marinade ingredients in a blender, and process until smooth. Pour over the vegetables, tossing well to combine.

2. Arrange the vegetables on the rack (you may need to do this in batches, starting with the potatoes and sweet potato first). Stir often to prevent scorching and cook until the vegetables are just tender, about 10 minutes.

3. Remove from the heat, toss the vegetables with the Gorgonzola cheese, and arrange the vegetables on a platter, drizzling any remaining marinade over top. Serve at room temperature.

Roasted Corn and Red Pepper Salad

Serves 4

The vegetables are easy to grill, and this combination seems to epitomize summer itself.

Ingredients:
4 ears corn, shucked
4 large sweet red peppers, seeded, cored, cut in half
Vegetable oil for rubbing
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons minced garlic
Sprinkling of balsamic vinegar

Directions:
1. Rub the corn and peppers generously with oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill the corn and red pepper over a medium fire, turning once when they begin to slightly char.

2. Cook several minutes more, then remove from the grill. When the vegetables are cool enough to handle, cut the kernels off the cobs and cube the red peppers. Toss together in a large salad bowl, and add the garlic and a sprinkling of vinegar. Add more oil, if necessary, and season to taste.

Grilled Romaine and Grape Tomatoes Salad

Serves 4

Grilling heads of romaine lettuce is trendy in some super-hot restaurants, and the whole process works very well. If you want grill marks on the lettuce, cook the heads on a regular grill rack. You'll need to keep an eye on the fire and the lettuce, as this is a tender crop and can readily burn. This dish is so simple you'll want to do it often. You can dress this up even more by garnishing the salad with snipped fresh herbs.

Ingredients:
2 large heads romaine lettuce, rinsed, halved
Store-bought balsamic vinaigrette to taste
1 pint grape tomatoes
1 (6-ounce) container crumbled feta cheese

Directions:
1. Discard old outer lettuce leaves. Put the halved lettuces into a large baking dish, and add enough vinaigrette to marinate the lettuce.

2. When the fire is ready, arrange the four lettuce halves on the rack, and cook for a few minutes. Turn the heads over, and when the leaves are slightly charred all over, remove from the fire.

3. When the lettuce is cool enough to handle, cut into serving sizes and garnish with the tomatoes and cheese. If necessary, add more dressing before serving.

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