Jun 082014

Grilled Vegetable Goat Cheese on Ciabatta

In the winter, one of my go-to dishes is a big pan of roasted vegetables. It’s a great way to clean out the fridge and use up odds and ends — half an onion, one sweet potato, two carrots, bit of cauliflower, etc.

In the summer, a long roast at a high temperature is just not an option in my small, heats-up-quickly kitchen. So my summer tendency is to take all those vegetable bits and bobs, give them all a quick marinade, and fire-up the grill. (A grill basket makes this whole thing much easier, by the way.)

A big platter of grilled veg can be a nice side for just about anything, and leftovers can be the basis of a tasty salad the next day. Or sometimes, I pile the roasted vegetables onto grilled, crusty rolls slathered with fresh goat cheese and a generous drizzling of basil oil. (Or pesto, if I happen to have some.) If you use ciabatta rolls, like I did here, don’t be shy with the goat cheese, basil oil, and/or pesto. That’s a lot of bread, and (I think) you need enough of those rich goodies to balance things out. Even if that means cutting the sandwiches into smaller portions!

My latest grilled veg creation included eggplant, red pepper, red onion and zucchini, but substitute freely with what you happen to have on hand! It looks a bit of a mess, I suppose, but trust me, it was delish.

Grilled Vegetable Goat Cheese on Ciabatta

Recipe: Grilled Vegetables & Goat Cheese on Ciabatta

1/3 cup olive oil, plus more for brushing onto the rolls
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 eggplant, peel on, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 zucchini, cut in half crosswise, then into 1/2-inch lengthwise slices
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeds removed, and cut into fourths
1/2 red onion, cut into 1/4-inch slices
2 large crusty rolls, like ciabatta rolls, split lengthwise
local, fresh goat cheese, softened
basil-infused olive oil (or pesto) for drizzling
Lettuce and tomatoes, if desired

While the grill is heating, combine the 1/3 cup olive oil, vinegar, oregano, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add vegetable slices and toss to coat. Grill the vegetables, turning, until done to your liking. Brush the rolls with olive oil and grill until lightly toasted.

Spread one side of each roll with goat cheese, top with layers of grilled veggies (stash any extra grilled veg in the fridge for later use), and drizzle with the basil-infused oil or pesto. Top with other half of roll. And then I like to give the whole thing a good press to kind of smush things together (is it just me?). Anyway, it helps prevent it from falling apart when you slice it. Makes 2 large sandwiches.

Pairing: Chardonnay

A cold, silky, well-made Chardonnay is a delicious pairing for this type of sandwich. Bold, ripe flavors, enough body and oomph to stand up to the smoky, grilled veg… Yes, please. Here are a few I’ve enjoyed lately:

Calera 2012 Chardonnay Central Coast ($18). A lot of wine for the money — rich and creamy, with plush tropical fruit, but a balancing bright, citrusy acidity on the finish along with pie crust accents. Find it!

True Myth 2012 Chardonnay Edna Valley ($18). A seriously good value — with gorgeous fruit, structure and balance here. Offers lush tropical melon, tangerine and lime citrus, dashes of toasty oak, hazelnut, vanilla and cream. Really nice! Find it!

Heggies 2011 Chardonnay Eden Valley ($25). Lovely! With balanced, vibrant flavors that include ripe nectarine, pear, lemon curd, toasty vanilla and cream, with a touch of mineral through the elegant finish. Find it!

William Hill 2012 Chardonnay Napa Valley ($25). Classic array of apple/pear, peach, fig, hazelnut, cream, buttered toast and brown spice flavors and aromas. Textbook Chardonnay at a good price. Find it!

Davis Bynum 2011 Chardonnay Russian River Valley River West Vineyard ($30). Gorgeous, full-bodied, structured, with smoky oak accents to intense, dried pineapple, silky tropical melon, and bright citrus flavors. Find it!

Calera 2012 Chardonnay Mt. Harlan ($34). Ripe and fleshy, with apricot, melon, pretty citrus and smoky, spicy oak notes. Find it!

Stoller 2011 Chardonnay Dundee Hills Reserve ($35). I liked this wine a lot for its through-line of bright, juicy lime/lime zest that supports ripe pear and pineapple and dashes of nutty oak and marmalade. Silky finish. Find it!

Donelan 2011 Chardonnay Sonoma County Nancie ($54). An elegant array of aromas and flavors, from Asian pear, crisp apple and lemony citrus, to fig, cream, pastry and light mineral notes through the finish. Find it!

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