I have a confession to make… I am not a salad eater. I know I should be. I know it’s “good for” me. But in all honesty, most green salads make me feel like a goat chomping on grass. I like Israeli Salad, which has a cold crunch that makes it interesting. I love potato salad and pasta salad– those don’t really count, though. Beet salads and fruit salads are tasty, but they’re usually lacking in the greens department. It’s the lettuce-heavy salads that make me sad. I find lettuce, on its own, quite boring. It’s hard to dress up lettuce enough to make me love it.
And yet, this Grilled Vegetable Salad has converted me. Who knew that grilling a salad would give it so much flavor? I’ve officially fallen in love with salad again, thanks to The Ivy restaurant in Los Angeles. We went there a few months ago to celebrate my friend T’s birthday. I was eyeing the fish and chips when T steered me towards the Grilled Vegetable Salad. “Trust me,” she said. “It’s the best salad ever.” I started to protest, but she insisted. After one bite, I was hooked. The greens were tossed with grilled zucchini, asparagus, and corn. So much flavor! I was hooked. As with all restaurant dishes I enjoy, I took note of the basic ingredients for future reference.
The following week, I created a salad in my own kitchen that captured everything I loved about The Ivy’s salad. I grilled up some of my favorite summer veggies and tossed them with fresh lettuce, basil, and tomatoes. Then I dressed the whole thing in a light, creamy lemony basil dressing. The result was magnificent, a perfect blend of summer flavors. Grilled Vegetable Salad, where have you been all my life?
This year, Memorial Day and the second day of Shavuot happen to fall on the same day. The two holidays have no direct connection. Memorial Day was established after the Civil War, an American holiday commemorating the soldiers who have died to protect our freedom. Shavuot started as an ancient Jewish harvest festival, and now celebrates the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. Two completely different holidays, but there is a common thread between the two– gratitude. On Shavuot, we are thankful for the gift of Torah. On Memorial Day, we are grateful to the brave men and women of the armed forces who have given their lives so that we may be free. Two powerful reasons to be thankful and celebrate the gifts we’ve been given.
The American tradition is to grill for Memorial Day. Jewish families will be enjoying harvest-inspired menus and vegetarian dairy meals for Shavuot. This salad would be perfect for both celebrations. It’s a bountiful summer dish teeming with harvest-fresh vegetables. It’s gluten free, vegetarian, and pareve, making it a healthy side dish or vegetarian main course for a backyard barbecue. You could make it vegan with two simple substitutions below. Top it with grilled chicken for added protein, feta cheese for a Mediterranean vibe, or avocado for a rich, creamy touch. I love the salad all on its own… it has so much flavor that you don’t really need to add anything to make it taste great.
I’m heading into this weekend grateful for the many gifts in my life– including the gift of you, my readers, and the joy you bring me each and every week. Shabbat Shalom, Chag Shavuot Sameach, and Happy Memorial Day!
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Grilled Vegetable Salad
Grilled zucchini, squash, asparagus, corn, tomatoes, lettuce & basil with lemony basil dressing. Gluten Free, Vegetarian, Vegan with Sub, Pareve
- 1 lb zucchini (2 medium), halved lengthwise, ends removed
- 1 lb yellow squash (2 medium), halved lengthwise, ends removed
- 1 lb large asparagus spears
- 2 ears sweet yellow corn, shucked and cleaned
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
- 2 cups green lettuce, shredded
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 tbsp mayonnaise
- 1 tsp honey
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Chopped ripe avocado, sliced grilled chicken breast, or crumbled feta cheese (optional toppings)
Preheat your grill. Score the fleshy cut side of the zucchini and squash halves with a few small shallow slits. This will help them cook faster and more evenly. Brush the cut sides of the squash lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle lightly with salt.
Coat the asparagus and corn lightly on all sides with olive oil. Sprinkle lightly with salt.
Put the zucchini, squash, asparagus, and corn on the hot grill and let them cook till they're tender and lightly charred. Flip the squash, zucchini and asparagus spears halfway through cooking; give the corn quarter turns every 4-5 minutes. The amount of time needed to cook each vegetable will be different-- the asparagus will be done first (don't let it burn), followed by the zucchini and squash, followed by the corn.
Remove the vegetables from the grill as they become tender. They should all be done cooking after about 20 minutes.
Once the vegetables are grilled, let them cool to room temperature. Cut the zucchini and squash into large chunks and place in a large salad or mixing bowl.
Cut the asparagus spears into 1-inch pieces. Discard the tough ends. Add them to the bowl.
Cut the corn off of the cob using a sharp knife. Add the grilled corn kernels to the bowl.
Add the halved cherry or grape tomatoes, shredded green lettuce, and chopped basil leaves to the bowl.
Toss the salad till well combined.
Make your dressing. In a blender or food processor, combine the chopped basil leaves, lemon juice, mayonnaise, honey, and salt. Cover the blender.
Pulse a few times till the ingredients are combined.
Scrape the sides of the blender with a spatula. Put the lid on the blender and open the pouring spout. Turn the blender on low. Drizzle the olive oil very slowly into the open pour spout. As the dressing emulsifies, it will splatter-- use your hand over the pour spout to keep the splatters contained.
When the olive oil is added, scrape the sides again and cover the pour spout. Blend for 60 more seconds till the basil is well blended and the dressing is creamy.
Add the dressing to the salad.
Toss till all the vegetables are well coated with dressing. Top salad with grilled chicken, ripe avocado, or feta cheese, if desired. Serve at room temperature for best flavor.
Vegan Substitution: To make this recipe vegan, substitute 1 tsp of Dijon mustard for the mayonnaise in the dressing and 1 tsp agave nectar for the honey.