My journey in cooking and baking has been a series of small steps with small successes. It goes a little something like this. I got interested in cooking for myself, I bought a book, I started cooking. I had success. I got a little confidence and branched out to slightly more complex dishes. I had success. I got more confident and branched out more. And so on and so on. (Baking went a little more like this. “Oh, I don’t think I can make a cake.” “What do you know, I can make a cake!” “Oh, I don’t think I can make a pie.” “What do you know, I can make a pie.” And so on.)
Certain dishes I actually remember for their confidence boosting ability. I made this salad one summer when I was in my early 20′s and had just started on my cooking journey. In those days, my parents would throw a party around my birthday, which is at the end of July, and invite all of their and my friends. One year we had it catered and every year after that, my mom and I did all the cooking. That first year is when I made this salad. People raved. They asked me for the recipe. It was the only dish that was completely gone at the end of the evening. I liked that I had made something that people ate and loved. I wanted to do more.
These many (many) years later, I am still making this very same salad. I have made it for parties at my house and lunches I have catered. It travels well, can be made in advance, and is adaptable. This is not a wimpy salad – it has all kinds of vegetables that have been roasted to bring out their individual flavors. The potatoes in it give the salad heft, but there aren’t so many of them that it becomes heavy. It has an assertive dressing that will become a standby for you. It’s the perfect thing to serve when you want to eat salad but are hungry for something more.
Mediterranean Roasted Vegetable Salad
Adapted from Bon Appetit
The original recipe says that this serves 20, but unless you have it out on a buffet with lots of other things to choose from, I would say it serves 10. I made it this week for two different dinners, one for four people and one for two people and there was only a tiny bit left at the end of the second dinner.
1 1/2 pound eggplant, cut into 1 inch chunks
2 large red onions, cut into 1 inch chunks
2 pounds red-skinned potatoes, cut into 1 inch chunks
2 large red peppers, cut into 1 inch chunks
4 zucchini, halved lengthwise, cut into 1 inch chunks
2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup chopped basil
2 heads raddichio, cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks
1 5oz. package arugula
1 1/2 cups coarsely grated or shaved Pecorino Romano cheese
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Arrange eggplant and red pepper on one large baking sheet. Arrange potatoes and red onion on the other. Drizzle both sheets of vegetables with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Mix well with your hands. Roast vegetables until tender and light golden, stirring occasionally, about 35 minutes for peppers and eggplant; about 1 hour for potatoes and onions.
Once peppers and eggplant are done, transfer to large bowl, then add zucchini to same baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 20-25 minutes. Remove all vegetables to bowl with peppers and eggplant.
Combine mustard and vinegar in small bowl. Gradually mix in 4 tbsp. of olive oil. Add basil and mix well. Arrange arugula and radicchio on large platter. Spoon vegetable mixture over and drizzle with dressing. Top with grated or shaved Pecorino Romano.
(Vegetables can be roasted 1 day ahead. Allow to cool completely, then cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before serving. Dressing, without basil, can be made 3 days ahead and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature and then stir in basil.)