Marinated Grilled Vegetables on Charred Bread with Whipped Feta

Marinated grilled vegetables with charred bread and whipped feta

Marinated grilled vegetables are good, but are they ever really great? With the help of an easy marinade, a new technique, and, well, whipped cheese on bread, the answer is yes, and can I have seconds? 

Marinated grilled vegetables on charred bread with whipped feta

How to marinate vegetables for barbecue

The key to incredible BBQ grilled vegetables is marinating them after grilling, while they’re still hot. Tender, burst, and burnished vegetables absorb the flavors of the marinade much better than stiff, unyielding, raw vegetables. Grassy olive oil, piquant vinegar, and pungent grated garlic sink easily into a warm medley of charred zucchini, bell peppers, and tomatoes like you might melt into a plush couch at the end of the day. The dressing mingles with the heat and stays a while, rather than rolling off a cold vegetable’s unwelcome surface.

Can vegetables be marinated before grilling?

You may be wondering if you can marinate your vegetables before grilling anyway, in the interest of saving time or hassle. Sure, but overly marinated vegetables can get soggy (and then they will never get that gorgeous char you’re after), and overly oily vegetables will cause smoky flare-ups that taste like lighter fluid. Plus, raw vegetables are unlikely to absorb much of the marinade ahead of time and the flavor will simply dull down by the time you’re ready to eat it. Salting or very lightly oiling the vegetables before grilling are the only two applications that will have much of an effect (salt adds flavor and oil encourages browning), but wait until the vegetables are cooked to add vinegar and aromatics.

How long do you marinate vegetables for grilling?

Now, once the vegetables are cooked, it’s best to leave them in the marinade at room temperature for at least 15 minutes and up to 1 hour before digging in. If you’ve only got 5 minutes, so be it, just be sure to save some leftovers to enjoy the full effect of the marinade the next day. 

Which vegetables are good for grilling?

This recipe uses summer squash, zucchini, bell peppers, and tomatoes, but that is by no means an exact formula. This would also be great with mushrooms, asparagus, eggplant, or red onion. Use what you’ve got!

How to serve grilled vegetables

While I have no problem eating a plate of marinated grilled vegetables (or stealing more than one taste while I make this recipe), good bread and creamy cheese help this dinner feel like a complete, satisfying meal or killer side dish. Tender vegetables dripping in a saucy marinade are even better piled on top of thick, chewy bread (such as sourdough or a hearty country loaf) that can absorb the flavors of the dressing and serve as a kind of bed for your produce to rest on. The whipped feta barely needs an explanation: Salty cheese gets blended with lemon juice to create a creamy spread that cushions the crisp-tender veg and crunchy bread. If the toast is the bed, then the whipped feta is the soft, inviting pillow.

This makes a stunning vegetarian meal, but if you’d like to add a protein I’d make grilled chicken or pork; anything too rich would compete with the flavors of the vegetables and cheese.

More great grilling recipes:

Let’s make marinated grilled vegetables

First, make the whipped feta: Add lemon zest, lemon juice, feta, and olive oil to a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth and creamy.

While the grill heats up, make the marinade. In a large bowl, mix together garlic, vinegar, sugar, red pepper flakes, and olive oil; set aside.

Arrange the squash, bell peppers, and tomatoes (use a grill basket or foil for the tomatoes) evenly around the grill. Cook, covered, and flipping every 5 minutes or so, until the vegetables are charred and softened.

Bell peppers and zucchini on grill

Cut the vegetables into 2” pieces and toss them in the reserved marinade to coat; taste and season with salt and black pepper. 

Marinated grilled vegetables in silver bowl

Grill the bread for 1-2 minutes per side, until crisp on the outside and charred in spots.

Bread slices on grill

To serve, spread some of the whipped feta on top of the grilled bread, then spoon over the marinated vegetables and their juices. Drizzle with a little extra olive oil, if desired.

Overheat shot of marinated grilled vegetables on charred bread with whipped feta

Marinated Grilled Vegetables on Charred Bread with Whipped Feta

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Dinner; Side Dish American
By Samantha Serves: 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes Cooking Time: 30 minutes Total Time: 45 minutes

Here's the best way to marinate vegetables: Toss them with oil, vinegar and aromatics after grilling for the best flavor. It's even better on charred bread with ultra-creamy whipped feta!

Ingredients

  • ½ lemon
  • 1 cup feta
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • 4 medium summer squash or zucchini (or a combo!), cut in half crosswise, then in half lengthwise
  • 2 bell peppers (preferably a combination of orange, red, or yellow), quartered lengthwise, seeds removed
  • 2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely grated
  • 2 ½ Tbsp. white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • ½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • Canola oil, for brushing on the grill grates
  • Black pepper
  • 6-8 slices thick-cut country-style bread (for serving)

Instructions

1

First, make the whipped feta: Zest lemon half into a food processor or blender, then squeeze in the juice. Add in the feta and 3 Tbsp. olive oil. Blend for about 30 seconds, scraping down the sides halfway through. Taste and add salt if needed. The feta I buy is already quite salty so I don’t add any. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside for serving.

2

Preheat your grill for medium heat.

3

While the grill heats up, make the marinade. In a large bowl, mix together garlic, vinegar, sugar, red pepper flakes, and 2 ½ Tbsp. olive oil; set aside.

4

Brush and oil your grill grates, then arrange the squash, bell peppers, and tomatoes (use a grill basket or foil for the tomatoes) evenly around the grill. Cook, covered, and flipping every 5 minutes or so, until the vegetables are charred and softened. Tomatoes take about 10 minutes, bell peppers take 20, yellow squash takes about 25, and zucchini can take up to 30 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a cutting board.

5

Cut the vegetables into 2” pieces and toss them in the reserved marinade to coat; taste and season with salt and black pepper.

6

When you’re ready to serve, grill the bread for 1-2 minutes per side, until crisp on the outside and charred in spots.

7

To serve, spread some of the whipped feta on top of the grilled bread, then spoon over the marinated vegetables and their juices. Drizzle with a little extra olive oil, if desired.

Notes

This recipe uses summer squash, zucchini, bell peppers, and tomatoes, but that is by no means an exact formula. This would also be great with mushrooms, asparagus, eggplant, or red onion. Use what you’ve got!

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2 Comments

  • Reply
    Doreen
    July 31, 2020 at 1:32 pm

    Whipped Feta? Are you kidding me?? What a great idea! Can’t wait to try when I’m near a grill again. Thanks for all your great advice. I’m a marinate prior to cooking and now I know why I should be patient and wait until after.

    • Reply
      Samantha
      August 1, 2020 at 1:04 pm

      The whipped feta is SO good! This is one of our fam’s top summer dinners for sure. And marinating the vegetables after they’re cooked gives them so much flavor!

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