Grilling and flame roasting summer vegetables is a gorgeous way to intensify their flavors by caramelizing their natural sugars and adding a smoky accent to the vegetables that transforms them into a center piece for summer suppers. Dress them with an Eastern Mediterranean hummus sauce and a drizzle of pomegranate syrup and you have a dazzling platter of summer’s bounty to bring to the table.
A recipe is hardly called for here other than to highlight the importance of using fresh locally grown vegetables, applying various grilling and flame roasting techniques, and utilizing some bright zesty Eastern Mediterranean saucing suggestions.
It’s really all about the flavors of grilling and roasting so fire up that grill and get smokin!
Eastern Mediterranean Grilled and Roasted Vegetables serves 4 to 6
- 1 small pumpkin or squash
- 4 ears fresh sweet corn
- 4 small eggplants
- 4 medium size green and/ or yellow zucchini
- 2 red bell peppers
- 4 fresh green chilies ( New Mexico or jalapeno)
- 12 garlic cloves, skin on
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 lemon; zest and juice
- flaked sea salt (Maldon Smoked sea salt is ideal if available)
- freshly ground pepper
- fresh thyme leaves
- hummus sauce For hummus recipe (click here)
- Greek yogurt
- pomegranate syrup (available in Eastern Mediterranean shops).
If pomegranate syrup is not available simply reduce pomegranate juice to a syrup consistency.
Pumpkin or Squash: Quarter the pumpkin or squash and remove all the seeds and membrane. There is no need to remove the skin at this point. Brush the pumpkin with olive oil, place on a baking tray skin side down, and put in the oven. Roast until the pumpkin (or squash) is soft but still has a bit of bite, about 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. When cool cut into bite size pieces. Remove the skin if you have used a thick skinned pumpkin and set the pumpkin aside to use later. For more on roasting pumpkin (click here)
Sweet Corn on the Cob: For the corn, remove the husk and silk and brush the ears with olive oil. Grill the ears over high heat until evenly colored and then set aside to cool. Once cool slice the corn into bite size rounds, divide each round in half. Add the corn half rounds to the tray of roasting pumpkin for at least 20 minutes of roasting time. Then set aside to cool.
Eggplant: The eggplant can be grilled whole or sliced into thick rounds. I prefer grilling the eggplant whole until the skin is completely charred. This method gives the eggplant flesh a beautiful smoked flavor. Simply remove the charred skin once the eggplant is cool and pull the flesh into strips and set aside. The pulled eggplant strips are not particularly attractive but their flavor more than makes up for their haphazard appearance. If you prefer grilling rounds of eggplant, brush with olive oil and grill over high heat until nicely marked, well colored, and soft. For more on roasting eggplant (click here)
Zucchini: For the zucchini, remove the stem and slice into thick strips lengthwise. Brush with olive oil and grill until nicely marked, well colored, and soft but still holding their shape. Slice the strips into bite size pieces and set aside.
Red Bell Peppers and Green Chiles: Roast the red bell peppers and green chiles over high heat or flame until evenly charred. Place in a bowl, seal with cling film, and sweat until cool enough to handle. Then peel off the skin, open lengthwise, remove the seeds and membrane, slice into strips, and divide strips in half and set aside. For more on flame roasting chilies and peppers (click here)
Garlic: Roast the unpeeled garlic in a dry pan until evenly colored. Set aside to cool. Then remove the skin and slice the cloves thinly lengthwise and set aside.
Assembling and Serving the grilled and roasted vegetable platter.
Place all the prepared vegetables in a large bowl. Pour the lemon juice over all and toss with your hands. Then drizzle with the olive oil while continuing to toss. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the thyme leaves and lemon zest and toss until well combined. Cover and refrigerate if not using immediately.
When ready to serve transfer the tossed vegetables to a serving platter and drizzle them generously with hummus sauce. Lightly drizzle Greek yogurt, and finally sparingly spoon pomegranate syrup over all and serve.
Serve with a small bowl of hummus sauce on the table as well as a bowl of spiced mixed olives.