It was time for “Wine and Whine” at my house last night.
It was a beautiful evening, and we sat outside until darkness fell. We talked on into the night by candlelight under canopy of the beechnut tree on my patio. It was one of those especially magic times, wasn’t it Whiners? We didn’t solve ALL of the world problems or answer the age-old questions, but we gave it a good try!
The main dish was Vegan Grilled Ratatouille. Recipe later in the post.
The side dishes were:
1. Roasted beets and tomato from Whiner, Athena:
2. Marinated Watermelon and Tomato-Cucumber Salad. Recipe here:
3. Grilled rosemary and garlic bread (from the bakery):
And for dessert, Wine-Poached Peach and Blackberry Crumble served with a dollop of Rice Dream Vanilla “Ice Cream.” Recipe here.
I set the table:
The yard looked nice too, thanks to Pete’s lawn care maintenance service. You know Pete, right? I married him. He’s good with a trimmer, among other things. He also fixed the grill before the Whiners came over.
I made a simple arrangement out of black-eyed Susans and basil:
Vegan Grilled Ratatouille
I adapted this from my favorite New York Times recipe. I followed the recipe quite loosely, adding tomatoes to the grill, as none are mentioned in the recipe. They cook quickly, and will be the first vegetables you pull off the grill onto the finished plate. My quantities for all the vegetables differed based on what I had from the market and garden. I filled a platter with the raw, cut vegetables before my guests arrived, so I would be all ready for grilling during snack and cocktail time. The following is the recipe as it appeared in the NYT, my comments in bold.
One white onion (about 8 ounces), peeled and halved lengthwise through the root
Two lemons, halved, seeds removed
One yellow or orange bell pepper (about 8 ounces), halved lengthwise, stem and seeds removed
One red bell pepper (about 8 ounces), halved lengthwise, stem and seeds removed
Two medium zucchini (about 8 ounces each), sliced lengthwise 1/2-inch thick
Two medium eggplant (about 10 ounces each), sliced lengthwise 1/2-inch thick
(My addition: two or three fresh tomatoes, halved)
Two large garlic cloves, minced
Six tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more as needed (I used half that)
One-quarter cup chopped fresh basil
Two teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, more for garnish
One-half teaspoon kosher sea salt, more to taste
Black pepper, to taste
Flaky sea salt, for serving
1. Heat the grill. Place vegetables and lemon on grill, making sure onion and lemons are cut side down, and cover. Grill lemon halves until lightly caramelized, three to five minutes total. Grill onion until it is heavily charred, about seven to 15 minutes total. Grill peppers, zucchini and eggplant until charred and very soft, about three to eight minutes per side total. Transfer to a cutting board. (Do not oil the vegetables. Do not spray the grill with cooking oil. I placed all the vegetables onto the grill at once, removing things as they were finished cooking, leaving the others on to finish.)
2. (I pulled the charred skins off the roasted peppers, though I didn’t labor very meticulously over it.) Chop vegetables into bite-size pieces and transfer to a large bowl; toss with the juice of 3 of the grilled lemon halves, the minced garlic, olive oil, basil, thyme leaves, one-half teaspoon salt and some black pepper to taste. Use a spoon to twist up into the grilled lemon, extracting the juices. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to juice a lemon this way. Grilling is the key. Adjust seasonings as needed, adding more lemon juice (from remaining lemon half), salt or oil, or both, as needed. Set aside.