BIG TONI’S ITALIAN KITCHEN

BBQ Vegetables                                     June 2017

I first cooked this recipe on a Webber on the 11th floor balcony of our apartment in Singapore, Steve Bicknell (a friend, foodie and a great photographer) had come to stay and he had brought with him The Classic Italian Cookbook by Marcella Hazan a fantastic book and this recipe is the first I cooked and I have continued to cook. It has been adapted but it still has more than its roots in Marcella’s classic book.

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You can cook the vegetables when the bbq is very hot, when the coals have just started to turn white and you feel you want to wait another 10 to 15 minuets before you risk a steak or even a sausage.

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If you have a gas bbq you can still cook this recipe it’s almost as good as a real fire but not quite.

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For six 

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  •     2 large Spanish onions
  •     2 red bell peppers
  •     1 aubergine
  •     3 zucchini
  •     3 large ripe tomatoes
  •     150g large mushrooms
  •     Olive oil
  •     Small handful of parsley chopped 
  •     Half a garlic bulb 
  •     A splash of red wine vinegar 
  •     Sea salt 

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How to make:

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Light the BBQ

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While the coals reach the correct temperature and before we start cooking prepare the vegetables. Firstly wash all the vegetables apart from the mushrooms but you should wipe these with a clean cloth to remove any grit.

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Cut the onions in half across the middle but do not peel or cut off the root 

or point. 

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Cut the tomatoes and aubergine in half then take the aubergine and crosshatch the flesh without piercing the skin. Sprinkle with sea salt and leave to drain in a colander. This was to rid the vegetable of the bitter juices but the aubergine’s we buy today have had this bitterness bread out of them. I still do it out of habit.

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Cut the ends of the zucchini and slice it lengthways into slices about 10mm thick.

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I coat the vegetables with little olive oil on a pastry brush this stops them sticking to the bbq grill.

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When the BBQ is ready (when the coals have started to turn white,) place the onion on the grill cut side down. Place the peppers on the grill as well.

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After 5 minuets check the peppers they should be charred, if they are turn them over. (Continue to turn the peppers until they are charred all over including the top and bottoms then remove the black skin).

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Add the tomatoes, zucchini and aubergine (add a splash of olive oil to the flesh side of the aubergine before you place it on the grill).

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Continue to turn the vegetables as they brown and cook. Add the garlic to the grill cut side down; you need this to cook without burning but enough to become soft and sweet.

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As each vegetable cooks take them off the grill and place then in a large heatproof bowl.  Lastly cook the mushrooms these will take about 3 minuets and once done add them to the rest of the vegetables in the bowl.

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Take the cooked garlic and chop it into the salad.

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Now check the seasoning and stir in a few good glugs of olive oil, a splash of red wine vinegar and toss the warm bbq vegetables like a salad to mix all the flavours and textures. 

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This recipe can look a little complicated but it is in fact easy. You just cook the veg over a BBQ and then mix it together. 

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You will be amazed at what happens, they turn into a sweet, crunchy, smooth, savoury warm salad of deliciousness that will go perfectly with any meat, poultry or fish you intend to cook on the bbq.

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Outstanding Sicilian oil. Yellow-green color, smooth taste, unfiltered. Limited quantities. The oil is produced at the estate of Prince Pignatelli at Castelvetrano in Sicily using the Nocellara varietal. The 100% Nocellara del Belice olives are hand-picked from the trees. An exceptional oil. 

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