While in Granada, Ana and I had a wonderful appetizer of grilled vegetables at the restaurant and bar, Taberna Salinas. Ever since I've been grilling lots of vegetables at home in the same style. Nothing could be simpler. You need only good olive oil, salt, and the best vegetables you can find. I usually grill the vegetables over a slow fire of lump charcoal, but you can also cook them griddle-style on a heavy cast iron skillet or grill pan.
Eggplant, zucchini, onions, scallions, leeks, mushroom (fresh oyster and shiitake are especially good), red and green peppers, tomatoes, asparagus, artichoke hearts are all authentic and great for this dish.
Here's how to do it
Slice an eggplant into 3/8 inch thick rounds
Cut a zucchini longways into 1/4 inch thick slices
Slice an onion into 3/8 inch thick rounds
If using smaller mushrooms, put them on a skewer.
If you're using peppers, prepare them first according to my recipe for flame roasted peppers. If you're grilling asparagus, prepare them according to my recipe for grilled asparagus. Green onions and leeks can be grilled in the same way as asparagus.
Fire up the grill (or heat a large iron skillet on medium). You don't want a very hot fire. 350 degrees or even 325 is perfect.
While the coals are burning down (or the skillet is heating up), rub down the vegetables with olive oil. When working with the eggplant and mushrooms, be careful: these vegetables soak up oil like sponges. Apply a light coat evenly and quickly.
Sprinkle all of the vegetables with coarse salt.
Grill the vegetables slowly, 6 to 8 minutes per side, depending on the temperature of your fire, until tender. If you're grilling lots of vegetables, work in batches.
It's as simple as that.
To me the best possible dressing for grilled vegetables is a light drizzle of buttery hojiblanca olive oil.
Another good dressing is a Spanish-style herbed vinaigrette: 5 parts olive oil, one part vinegar, a pinch of thyme, and fresh crushed garlic, salt and black pepper to taste.
A classic Catalan sauce (or dip) for grilled vegetables is romesco, which seems to be very much in fashion these days. This will be the subject of an upcoming post.