Balsamic Marinated Vegetable Skewers
Woot, spring veggies are here! I won't try to play off the fact that no matter the season, I eat pretty horribly, but the arrival of the farmers market filled with early spring vegetables does lead me to at least a few veggie-centric dishes during the period when an initial enthusiasm for quality fresh produce takes hold. If you're like myself and are thinking of dishes that celebrate this arrival of the spring harvest, these balsamic marinated vegetable skewers do just that.
"Marinade" is a bit of misnomer here—the vegetables are really just coated in a sauce, rather than allowed to swim in it. This does not translate to any lessoning of flavor though, as the balsamic vinaigrette used here is made pretty potent by using a 50/50 mix of vinegar and oil plus fresh lemon juice, Dijon, garlic, salt, and herbs by way of parsley and thyme. It's also thick enough to properly cling to an assortment of different veggies.
After asparagus, yellow and green squash are my indicators of the start of vegetable season, and they appropriately end up in a lot of my cooking around this time of year. Squash alone don't make for the most interesting skewers though, so I also used crisp bell peppers, sweet and tart grape tomatoes, and sharp red onions as well.
After I had tossed all of the vegetables in the vinaigrette, I went ahead and skewered them all up, alternating each vegetable so all skewers would have a good assortment. A couple quick tips on skewering these veggies—to ensure onions stay put, it's best to skewer them in stacks two to three layers high, and for the squash, thread them so the stick runs through the exterior which retains more structural integrality than the innards that can get so soft that the squash can fall off.
I picked this exact assortment of vegetable because they all turn extra delicious on the grill. The way the high heat of a charcoal fire can quickly soften and caramelize the exteriors of the veggies, while not cooking them so much that they turn to mush, is why grilling is my favorite way to eat so many spring and summer vegetables.
Once these had some nice charring around the edges, I pulled them from the fire and brushed on some reserved marinade. This created a skewer where the sweetness of the vegetables stood front and center, while the balsamic vinaigrette added a touch of contrasting bright acidity that seemed to only enhance, and not mask, the vegetables' natural flavor. It was mixture of sweet, fresh, and tangy flavors that clearly demonstrated why in-season veggies are so awesome.
Balsamic Marinated Vegetable Skewers
- Yield 4 servings
- Prep 30 Minutes
- Cook 8 Minutes
- Total 38 Minutes
- For the Vinaigrette
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
- 1 tablespoon fresh juice from 1 lemon
- 2 teaspoons freshly minced garlic (about 2 medium cloves)
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped thyme
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- For the Skewers
- 1 large zucchini, ends trimmed, halved lengthwise, and cut into 3/4-inch slices
- 1 large yellow squash, ends trimmed, halved lengthwise, and cut into 3/4-inch slices
- 1 large red onion, cut into 1-inch cubes and separated into 3-layer segments
- 2 medium red, yellow, or orange bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1-inch squares
- 1 pint grape tomatoes
- For the Vinaigrette: Whisk together balsamic vinegar, oil, parsley, lemon juice, garlic, mustard, and thyme in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Place all vegetables in a large bowl, add vinaigrette, and toss to coat.
- For the Skewers: Skewer vegetables, alternating between zucchini, yellow squash, red onion, bell peppers, and tomatoes. Reserve any remaining vinaigrette in bowl.
- Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over entire surface of coal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Grill skewers, turning, until vegetables are browned around the edges and beginning to soften, 5-8 minutes total. Transfer skewers to platter and spoon on reserved vinaigrette. Serve immediately.