Grill! Grill! Grill! It’s Labor Day Weekend!

By Jillian Bernardini - Aug 31, 2013 - 10:08 AM
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Everyone thinks that Labor Day weekend is the final hurrah of summer, the waning hours of carefree beach days and BBQs, and the last batch of meals to eat outdoors with paper plates and High Life tall boys. I find this blasphemous!  Well, especially for me, considering I have to work most of the weekend, sad face.  Boston will still be just as hot and humid on the first day of fall as it will be this holiday weekend, so keep that grilling going!

How fun is it to fire up the grill, while layering on a light sweater to counteract that first crisp, cool breeze of autumn, and eat outside with a bold glass of red wine to warm you up?  Sounds like grilling should be a year round activity to me.  But for now, a girl can daydream.  If I close my eyes very hard, imagine myself in a bathing suit with some friends on a porch somewhere, I'd be grilling up bounties of treats for Labor Day! 

Beer brats, burgers, corn, avocado, and some stone fruit, yes all on the grill! I'd love to make a charred guacamole, grilling avocado halves and roughly mashing them with some chopped cherry tomatoes and smoked paprika.  Grilled peaches and nectarines with honey, sweetened ricotta, and micro-basil.  Keep the corn on the cob, grill it, and brush it with a cayenne-lime butter. Oh, the possibilities....

Another delicious treat for you to try is my take on a classic ratatouille, and the twist is to grill most of the vegetables.  It adds another level of flavor that embodies those grilling "end of days" for the holiday weekend.  I still want to maintain that stewed, saucy element of ratatouille, so I poach the tomatoes on the stovetop to turn those into a sauce.  This coats the grilled vegetables perfectly.  Let me know if you try it, or tell me about you plan on grilling for Labor Day weekend.  Chat with you soon!

Grilled Ratatouille with Tomato Ragout

1Xlarge eggplant, cut in 1/2 inch rounds
2Xlarge summer squashes, halved
2Xred bell peppers, seeded and quartered
1Xred onion, cut in 1/2 inch rounds widthwise
¼CUPolive oil, plus more for grilling the vegetables
3Xgarlic cloves, finely chopped
1TBSPNtomato paste
10Xcherry tomatoes, whole
1CUPvegetable stock
3TBSPNSbasil leaves, coarsely chopped
3TBSPNSparsley leaves, coarsely chopped
  1. Light a charcoal grill or turn a gas grill to medium-high heat.

  2. Brush the eggplant, squash, bell peppers, and onion with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.

  3. Set the vegetables on the grill, with eggplant and squash over more direct heat, and cook for 4 minutes. When dark grill marks form, use a pair of tongs to turn the vegetables and grill on the other side, cooking for an additional 4 minutes. Place the vegetables on a plate, cover with foil, and set aside.

  4. In a large skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil, garlic, and tomato paste, and cook for about 2 minutes.

  5. Add the cherry tomatoes, and cook for 5 minutes. Pour in the vegetable stock, and bring to a simmer, stirring often, for 15 minutes. As the sauce thickens and reduces, use a wooden spoon to gently press on the tomatoes, so their juices evaporate into the pan.

  6. Place the grilled vegetables on a cutting board, and cut into 3/4 inch pieces.

  7. Transfer to a large bowl, and pour the tomato mixture over the grilled vegetables. Sprinkle with basil and parsley, gently stir to combine, and season with more salt and pepper, if you like.