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Monday, April 16, 2012

Grilled Vegetable Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

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If I don't plan out our meals for the week, things tend to go haywire. Although I leave some flexibility in our meal plan each week, it's crucial that I have an idea of what we'll eat each night. Otherwise I find myself getting hungry, with no plan for dinner in mind. Then I start getting crabby, which isn't fun for anyone (namely Ryan). At this point I usually resort to a giant bowl of popcorn or cheese and crackers, which isn't necessarily the most satisfying dinner.
Such was the scene a few weeks ago in our house. I was fresh from the airport, back from business in Seattle, with no plan for dinner that evening. Popcorn wasn't an option, since my mom was in town and you can't serve your mom popcorn for dinner! Cheese and crackers (and wine!) wasn't an option because my business trip had included plenty of cheese and not a single vegetable. I was craving something green.
Right before I got hangry (hungry + angry = hangry!), I remembered that I'd had my eye on a grilled vegetable salad from my Simply Superb cookbook. Within minutes I was out the door and at the grocery store, picking up the ingredients. This salad hit the spot--served with hunks of sourdough bread, this was healthy and filling and exactly what my vegetable-void body was craving! It was a win with my mom and Ryan as well.

I immediately added it to the following week's meal plan. This time, we roasted the vegetables instead of grilling them. Either option works, although we preferred the grilled veggies! The dressing is probably my new go-to balsamic vinaigrette, and I suspect we'll be eating this salad frequently from here on out. You can easily add some chicken or shrimp, or swap out whatever vegetables you'd like. The below recipe serves 4 main dish salads or about 8 side salads. Enjoy!!
One Year Ago: White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies
Two Years Ago: Make Ahead Lasagna

Grilled Vegetable Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette
from Simply Superb

for the vegetables:
-8 scallions
-4 large portobello mushrooms (or you can buy a package of sliced portobellos)
-1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch strips
-1 bunch asparagus, trimmed
-2 red onions, cut into quarters
-2 summer squash or zucchini, cut into 1-inch strips
-1/4 cup olive oil
-kosher salt & freshly ground pepper

for the balsamic vinaigrette: (you will likely have leftover dressing---save for another salad!)
-3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
-2 tbsp Dijon mustard
-1 small garlic clove, minced
-1/2 tsp kosher salt
-5-6 grinds pepper
-3/4 cup olive oil

for the salad assembly:
-8 cups lightly packed mixed greens
-6 oz crumbed feta cheese
-2 tomatoes, cut into chunks (these could also be grilled/roasted if you prefer)
-12+ kalamata olives (we ate it both with and without olives, either works)

1. Trim the roots from the scallions, and trim the tops, leaving about 3 inches of the green portion. Cut the stems from the mushrooms and cut into chunks. Combine all of the vegetables into a large bowl. Toss with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
2. If grilling vegetables, place in a grill rack and grill until veggies are tender. If roasting, place vegetables on a foil-lined cookie sheet and roast for 400F for 20-30 minutes, until vegetables are tender. If needed, chop vegetables into smaller pieces.
3. To make the vinaigrette, whisk the vinegar, mustard, garlic, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Add the olive oil a bit at a time, whisking constantly until incorporated and thickened.
4. To assemble the salad, place the greens in a large bowl. Top with chopped and cooked vegetables, feta, olives, and tomatoes. Toss with vinaigrette and serve immediately.