I hesitated in writing up this ‘recipe’ because it’s really just a very simple set of instructions for cooking assorted vegetables in a griddle pan. BUT, it’s probably the most popular vegetable dish in our house, and for that reason, I decided to share it with you.
The other night for instance, Kipper was having a strop at being dragged away from whatever she’d been doing in order to eat her dinner, and was stomping round the kitchen shouting, “No! I DON’T WANT ANY DINNER!” And then she saw that I’d been cooking griddled vegetables.
She cooled off a bit. “OK. I’ll just have some aubergine. And courgette. And pepper. But I don’t want ANY dinner!”
Err. Fine. I think.
She ate her dinner. Enthusiastically. I don’t know what she’d been forced to leave behind to come to the table, but whatever it was had been obliterated from her mind by the presence of smokily-striped griddled aubergine slices, juicily charred courgettes, and sweet, soft, slightly scorched strips of red pepper. Yum.
I made the same mistake I always make when I cook these griddled vegetables though, which is that I didn’t make nearly enough! I had another aubergine, and another courgette, but as the cooked vegetables piled up on the plate, I foolishly thought to myself, “that looks like loads! I’ll leave these other vegetables for tomorrow…” D’oh! Kipper could have polished off the whole plateful single-handedly (single-mouthedly?) given half a chance. And she didn’t even want any dinner.
Griddled vegetables are a delicious addition to all sorts of vegetarian meals (and probably non-veggie ones too). We usually have them hot with pasta and pesto, or on top of a plain (or plain-ish) risotto. They also work cold, with cheeses and humous and bread and that sort of thing. I usually include courgette and aubergine, often red or orange pepper, and occasionally other things too. In the photo below you can see some slices of fennel, which turned out pretty well – they do need to griddle a while longer than the other veggies though, to make sure they’re cooked through.
Now that it’s in season, asparagus on the griddle is really fantastic. Pile ’em high for a finger-licking starter! If you usually have your asparagus boiled or steamed, I urge you to try this method of cooking them. The direct heat of the griddle pan concentrates the delicious, delicate flavour of the asparagus, and the lemon juice adds a perfect sharp citric note.
The quantity of vegetables in the photo below – 1 large aubergine, 1 large courgette, 2 red peppers and a small fennel – was quickly demolished by two adults and a small person. Make more than you think you’ll need 🙂
- 400g asparagus
- 2-3 tbsp olive oil
- Juice of half a lemon
- Pinch of black pepper (optional)
- 1 large aubergine
- 1 large courgette
- 2 red peppers
- 1 fennel bulb
- Olive oil
- Lemon, for squeezing (optional)
- Snap off the woody ends of the asparagus. Put the spears into a bowl with the oil, lemon juice and pepper and toss well to coat.
- Heat the griddle pan over a high heat. Once hot, shake the excess dressing from the asparagus (reserve the dressing) and transfer them to the pan - you may need to cook them in batches. Cook, turning occasionally, for 2-3 minutes, until just cooked and starting to scorch.
- Remove from the pan and drizzle any remaining dressing over. Eat immediately.
- Preheat the oven to 150C. Put a griddle pan to warm up on a medium-high heat.
- Slice the aubergine into 1cm thick rounds. Slice the courgette on the diagonal into 8-10mm slices. Cut the pepper into strips, removing the pith and seeds. Slice the fennel.
- Toss the vegetables in a generous amount of olive oil. Cook the vegetables, a few at a time, for 1-2 minutes each side - until black scorch lines appear and the vegetables are soft. Remove from the pan and put on a plate in the oven to keep warm while you cook the remainder.
- Continue cooking the vegetables in batches until they are all done.
- Squeeze over the lemon if desired, and serve.