This recipe, like many others this week, comes from the Ottolenghi Cookbook. Aside from answering my calling of having a vegetable driven week, this cookbook is full of possible dishes I may serve at our annual holiday party. I had 2 sit down dinner parties last year and cooked exclusively from this cookbook. Everybody really enjoyed the food. This year I am doing a single party, less formal but with more food, buffet style. I think this dish will make the cut - the chargrilled vegetables alone are delicious, but the firm, nutty cheese and fragrant basil oil elevate this dish to a whole new level.
Chargrilled Asparagus, Zucchini And Greek Cheese
350 g cherry tomatoes, cut in halves
140 ml olive oil
24 asparagus spears, woody bases removed
2 zucchinis, cut into very thin slices using a mandolin or a sharp knife
200 g manouri cheese, sliced into 3/4" thick (I can't find manouri but halloumi cheese from Whole Foods is a nice substitute as it also is a grill-able Mediterranean cheese)
25 g arugula
- and for the basil oil
75 ml olive oil
1 garlic clove, chopped
25 g basil leaves
a pinch of salt
1/4 t fresh ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Toss the tomatoes with 3 T olive oil and a little salt and pepper. Place them skin side down on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Roast for 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.
In a bowl, toss the asparagus with 2 T olive oil and some salt and pepper. In a separate bowl, toss the zucchini with 1 T olive oil and some salt and pepper.
To grill the vegetables heat a ridged griddle pan on high heat or break out your indoor grill. Grill the asparagus and zucchini until you get some char marks on each side (about a minute per side). Remove and let cool. Grill the cheese on the griddle or grill for about 2 minutes per side. Remove and let cool.
Make the basil oil dressing by pulsing all the ingredients in a food processor.
To assemble the platter, arrange the arugula, vegetables and cheese on a platter. Drizzle with desired amount of basil oil dressing.