In Italy they have a course called antipasto, or “before the meal.” Typically it consists of cured meats, cheeses, and marinated vegetables. I decided to put a little California spin on the antipasto by grilling the vegetables after brushing them with a simple vinaigrette. Delicious? Yes.
Summer = grilling season = summer squash season. Not a complicated equation. Summer squash is starting to pop up, including beautiful pale green varieties of zucchini like that pictured above. Zucchini is best when it’s fairly small, before the seeds get too big and make the entire vegetable fairly bitter. These small zucchini are great for slicing up length-wise and tossing on the grill. They work well in sandwiches or salads, too, but there is something wonderfully pure about having it as its own course.
Zucchini has blood sugar regulating powers, and is high in Vitamin C and manganese. It also boasts antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, which makes it a great partner for beets.
The beet, another antioxidant powerhouse, also happens to be delicious on the grill. No need to even peel them, just scrub them, chop off the top and bottom, then cut into slices just like you did with the zucchini. Beets are already sweet in their natural state, but when you grill them they caramelize. The sugars are drawn out to make the entire experience quite candy-like. It’s pretty incredible.
So start off your summer barbeque with a platter of grilled vegetable antipasto. It’s so incredibly easy, healthy, and makes a wonderful first course.
Grilled Vegetable Antipasto (serves 3)
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 small zucchini
- 1 large or 2 small beets, scrubbed clean
- handful chopped parsley
1. Preheat your outdoor grill to medium-high heat, or put a grill pan over medium-high heat to preheat.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and olive oil. Set aside.
3. Slice the zucchini into approximately 1/8″ slices, lengthwise. Trim off the tops and roots of the beets, then slice into approximately 1/8″ slices, horizontally.
4. Brush all the vegetables with the vinaigrette using a basting or pastry brush. Place them on the grill oiled-side down, then brush the other side while they start to cook. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Cook the vegetables for about 3 minutes, then use tongs to flip them over. Cook for about 6-8 minutes total, removing them as they start to get tender. The zucchini will cook a little bit faster than the beets, so remove those first.
5. Transfer to a platter and serve topped with the chopped parsley. Serve hot, cold, or at room temperature.