Grilled Vegetable Towers with Wilted Greens and Prosciutto Pine Nut Vinaigrette

One of my favorite pastimes is translating restaurant trends for family meals or entertaining. The visually exciting presentations in restaurants often are easily recreated at home. With just a bit of creativity, these restaurant "tricks" heighten the excitement of your home dining experience.

One of my favorite trends is "vertical" presentations. Foods are carefully stacked, producing a tower. For main dishes, it involves plating individual servings rather than setting everything out on a table or buffet. But in this recipe, pre-plating this warm and earthy first coarse or light main course is the natural choice to combine the flavors of the vegetables.

This recipe was tested on my Viking indoor grill, so it must be made two servings at a time. If you are serving more guests, head outside to grill the vegetables or prepare them in batches, layering your towers and keeping them warm in a 200 degree oven. 

  • 3/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt or kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into 2 large, flat pieces
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into 2 large, flat pieces
  • 1 small eggplant, sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 small zucchini, ends trimmed and sliced lengthwise into 1/8-inch slices
  • 2 large shiitake or oyster mushrooms
  • 4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1 thick slice prosciutto (about 1/16 lb.), finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup chopped green onions
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1 tablespoon sherry or balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • pinch of sugar

Turn grill to high and preheat for 5 minutes. Combine 1/2 cup olive oil with coarse salt and 12 to 15 grindings of black pepper on a dinner plate or shallow bowl. Dip both sides of vegetables in olive oil mixture as you place on the grill. Reduce grill setting to medium high and grill vegetables 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove vegetables from grill as they are done. 

While vegetables are grilling, combine prosciutto, green onion and pine nuts with remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil in a small skillet. Saute until pine nuts are toasted and the onions are wilted. Stir in sherry vinegar, and season with salt, black pepper and a pinch of sugar. Set aside. 

Assemble towers, layering several vegetables, then top with some of the crumbled goat cheese, adding more vegetables and more goat cheese. Begin and end with eggplant rounds.

Toss greens with the warm vinaigrette and place around the vegetable towers.

Makes 2 servings.