In this July 8, 2013 image, a grilled veggie sandwich with roasted garlic mayonnaise is shown in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)
Sometimes the promise of leftovers is almost more exciting than the meal itself! And who says leftovers can’t be planned?
Whenever I’m heating my grill for dinner, I always toss on and roast a few red and yellow bell peppers, even if I don’t plan to use them for that meal. Grilled peppers can add so much to so many other dishes. And they are almost effortless to make. Wrap them around fresh mozzarella for an easy appetizer, layer them in a sandwich, or chop them up and toss with pesto and pasta for a simple summer side.
I also almost always cook a couple of boneless, skinless chicken breasts to have at the ready for salads, sandwiches or meals on the go.
I call all of these items “grilled-overs,” and my favorite thing to do with them is assemble a grilled vegetable sandwich. It’s just the thing to make the most of whatever I grilled too much of the night before. Particularly at the end of summer, I love to go to the farmers market and buy all kinds of vegetables, grill them and save them to make sandwiches.
Sometimes I layer the veggies with shaved Parmesan and silky prosciutto, as in this recipe. Other times, I spread the bread with olive tapenade and a gracious layer of fresh goat cheese. Regardless, grilled vegetables make a crave-worthy, healthy sandwich. They also pack really easily — a bit of weekend sunshine in a weekday lunch.
There are a few things that you need to know when grilling vegetables. Make sure all of the vegetables are lightly coated with oil before grilling. That will promote those beautiful grill marks, keep the veggies juicy and prevent sticking! You also need to cut the vegetables so that they are long enough to be placed perpendicular against the grates, usually at least 3 inches long. You won’t need a vegetable basket if you slice them correctly.
Always place food horizontally on the cooking grates — or the opposite direction of the cooking grates, never parallel. When you place the food in the same direction as the grates, you run the risk of having it slip through the grates. Even more important, you won’t get good grill marks on whatever you are grilling. The best marks are short and go across the food.
Grill over a medium, direct heat and turn the vegetables once halfway through the cooking time; each vegetable will vary in the amount of time it needs. Really dense vegetables such as potatoes will need to be finished with indirect heat or the outside will burn by the time the inside is tender.
When you remove the grilled vegetables, place them in a single layer on a sheet pan lined with a wire rack so they can cool completely before they are stored in the refrigerator. Make the sandwiches or serve the vegetables room temperature with a drizzle of fruity olive oil and a pinch of crunchy salt.