It’s summer and you want to grill everything. Toast for breakfast? Fire up the grill! Reheating half a sandwich for lunch at work today? Better throw the grill in the back of the car! Your friends are giving you flack for carrying tongs around in your back pocket everywhere. You espouse the primitive fullfilllment of cooking over fire to just about anyone who will listen, and only a few of the bums under the bridge downtown really understand you. But relax, you are amongst friends. This cook will never scold you for going grill-overboard.
But now say you are going to a grill-out party, and you want to bring some grill flavor—in your vegetables! But you don’t have the time or motivation or enough coals to get the grill going at home. And wouldn’t it be redundant? Here lies the impetus for this salad. We want smoke, char, acid, salt & sweetness—all in a nice chilled salad to compliment all those smokey meats and frosty beverages. Here it is. Sweet old Sungolds get a kick of Italian pickled chile spice. Cucumbers get a lot more interesting with salt & lemon juice. That old prolific grandpa green bean gets the punk treatment—shaved and charred.
And might we also appropriate that old slogan about berries? “The blacker the vegetable, the sweeter the summer.” Grill on, friend.
2 lemons, juiced
extra virgin olive oil
1 large or 2 small zucchini/yellow squash
15-20 green beans
1/2 pint Sun Gold tomatoes
Lucques olives (10-15)
Lovage: de-stem and mince finely.
Zucchini/Squash: slice into 1/2” discs, brush with oil and put in the broiler close to the flame until well-charred. Transfer to fridge to cool. Once cool, slice into pinky-sized sticks and dress with olive oil, S&P, lemon juice, fresh lovage.
Cucumbers: quarter cucumber length-wise, then cube each strip with diagonal cuts. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Wait 15 minutes, then dress with 1 tablespoon lemon juice, finish with fresh lovage.
Green beans: Cut the stem end off the beans, then cut them in half. Using a mandolin on it’s thinnest setting, shave the beans into ribbons. Spread out on a pan, brush/spray with olive oil and put under broiler until well charred but not completely burned. Transfer to fridge to cool. Dress with olive oil, S&P, lemon juice.
Sungold tomatoes: Put tomatoes in a wide frying pan, sans oil, over high heat and toast until they begin to blacken. Transfer to fridge to cool. Mince 3-4 calabrian chiles. Once tomatoes are cool, rub them gently with minced chiles and some of their chile oil.
Lucques olives: use a paring knife to take slices of olive off the center pit like you would a mango, 3-5 for each olive.
To build the salad, start with a wide shallow layer of zucchini & cucumber at the bottom, then a tidy bed of shaved green beans in the center, tomatoes around the edges, and sliced olives on top. Finish with one last gentle sprinkle of kosher salt and a squeeze of lemon, and if you would like you can decorate the edges of the plate/bowl with smears of minced calabrian chiles and their oil.