Grilled vegetable salad recipe tossed in a tangy citrus dressing. Fresh summer veggies cooked and roasted on the barbecue. A vegan-friendly combination of colors and nutrition in one healthy side dish.
This grilled vegetable salad is a collection of vibrant produce for a healthy meal. The markets are bursting with summer fruits and vegetables ripe and ready to eat. To enhance the flavor before hitting the grill, lightly tossing the ingredients in olive oil and seasoning with salt and pepper makes a huge impact.
A light citrus vinaigrette brightens up the smoky notes of the salad. This wholesome salad is a perfect savory side dish or paired with protein for a complete meal. It’s the essential one bowl vegetarian recipe that will have you coming back for seconds!
How to grill vegetables
Grilling provides a high direct heat method that imparts charred flavors that cannot be achieved by other cooking techniques. Here are some essential tips for obtaining the perfect cook on vegetables made on the barbecue.
Whether you have a gas or charcoal grill, make sure that you preheat it, so the grates are nice and hot. I like to have a hot area on the bbq for initial cooking and then a cooler section to finish cooking the items or keeping them warm to help reduce overdoneness.
Preparing the Grill
Use a grill cleaning brush to scrape the surface and remove any of the blackened or sticky debris on the sides of the grates. Season the bars using a paper towel dipped in oil. Coating the surface helps to reduce sticking, just like adding oil to a saute pan.
Preparing the Vegetables
Cut ingredients to a similar thickness so that they cook evenly. For squash 1/2 inch is good, and for large eggplant, 1 inch is recommended. If the items are small like baby tomatoes, place them on soaked wooden skewers or in a foil packet for grilling or roasting. A thin layer of oil with salt and pepper prevents sticking and adds a subtle flavor.
Dry seasoning like garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, paprika or chili powders work well for grilling. However, they will still take on charred notes when the item is in contact with the grill. Adding sugars to the seasoning or marinades will caramelize quicker and brown from the Maillard Reaction to the food which can be desirable when controlled. You can always grill first, then baste the food towards the end so that the smokiness won’t be as pronounced.
I typically grill my vegetables on medium-high heat, for 3 to 5 minutes on each side depending if it’s a high moisture squash or more starchy corn on the cob. I cover the grill so that the food can cook by conduction and convection heat at the same time for quick cooking.
Cooking the corn, squash, bell peppers and eggplant on a bbq gives the grilled vegetable salad more intense flavor than just by roasting, sauteing or keeping them raw.
Succotash is typically a dish consisting of corn, shell beans like lima beans, and often bell peppers that cook together. The key ingredients to this grilled vegetable salad are fresh corn on the cob, yellow squash, zucchini, sweet baby tomatoes, bell peppers, eggplant, peppery arugula, and thinly sliced red onion.
I omitted the beans, but garbanzo, kidney, black or even edamame beans would be a nice addition to this salad. To add some brightness to the grilled vegetable salad, I made a fresh citrus vinaigrette. The tangy lemon and lime juice, plus adding the zest enhanced the flavors. The sweetness of the corn and hint of honey (or your choice of sweetener) of the dressing balances the vegetables, onions, and shallots in the salad.
I enjoy serving this salad with my Santa Maria style tri-tip or grilled Tequila lime chicken. If you already have your barbecue grill fired up, this is a quick and easy, healthy salad to put together and serve together with your main dishes.
How to grill corn on the cob?
I like to keep the husks on the corn and covered in its natural wrapper. I do this by gently peeling back the corn husk, but not removing it from the shell completely. Then tear the stringy hair-like pieces from the corn cobb. Make sure to rinse the kernels that cover the cob once again with the husk. I sometimes use a piece of the husk to tie around the cob so the kernels are not overly exposed. Grill the corn over medium heat, covered, about 5 minutes on each side. The husk will burn first, allowing your corn to cook and stay sweet, instead of overly charred and burnt.
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Grilled Vegetable Salad
- 1 zucchini, sliced lengthwise into ½ strips
- 1 yellow squash, sliced lengthwise into ½ strips
- 1 large eggplant, sliced into 1-inch rounds, about 4 slices
- 2 bell peppers, tops removed, seeded and cut from the top into 4 large pieces
- 1 ear of corn, hair removed, corn cleaned and husks intact
- olive oil, extra-virgin, for drizzling on vegetables for grilling
- kosher salt, as needed
- black pepper, as needed
- 1 cup mini tomatoes, sliced in half
- ¼ cup shallots, very thinly sliced
- 2 cups baby spinach, washed and dried
- In a large bowl, lightly coat the zucchini, yellow squash, bell peppers and eggplant with extra virgin olive oil.
- Lightly season vegetables with salt and pepper. Brush olive oil on corn and season with salt and pepper.
- Heat grill to medium-high heat. Using a paper towel, lightly coat the grill with some olive oil to help prevent sticking during cooking.
- Add the vegetables to the grill. Cook the zucchini, yellow squash, bell peppers and eggplant for 3 minutes on each side with the grill closed, 6 minutes total.
- The vegetables should be tender yet hold its shape. Cook the corn turning every few minutes so all sides get cooked on the grill and kernels are tender, 12 to 15 minutes.
- Refrigerate the grilled vegetables until chilled.
- Cut the kernels off the cob and transfer to a large bowl. Cut the zucchini, yellow squash, bell peppers, and eggplant into ½-inch pieces and add to the bowl. Add cut tomatoes, sliced shallots, and spinach to the bowl. Toss gently until just mixed. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the apple cider vinegar, lemon and lime juices, and honey.
- Gradually whisk in the olive oil, continuously whisking until a thickened vinaigrette is achieved (no large oil droplets seen).
- Add the minced shallots, parsley, salt, and pepper, adjusting seasoning as needed.
- Serve salad with the dressing on the side or toss with the vinaigrette.
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