This flexible and pretty main-dish salad takes advantage of the Vineyard’s late summer and early fall harvest. I like to include a mix of both grilled and raw vegetables for the most interesting flavors and textures. And adding a grain to the salad ups the filling-factor, so plan ahead and soak and/or cook your wheatberries (or farro) a day in advance to make assembling the salad easier.

For the easiest grilling, I like to use grill baskets and grill toppers (see more information below), but you can get away without them.

You can arrange the salad on a platter or on individual serving plates and serve at room temperature. If making the salad for a party, you can do everything up to the final garnish an hour or two ahead if you like. Check out our tips for grilling vegetables in the sidebar at right.

Serves 4 to 6

  • 1½ pounds any combination summer squash, zucchini, Asian eggplant, or Fairy Tale eggplant
  • 1 pound any combination cremini or shiitake mushrooms, bell peppers or shisito peppers, green beans, onions
  • or shallots 
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped basil leaves, plus extra small whole leaves for garnish (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons chopped or sliced sun-dried tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons chopped, pitted kalamata olives
  • 1½ teaspoons minced fresh garlic
  • 2 cups cooked wheatberries or farro (barley or short-grain brown rice would be fine too)
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes or other small tomatoes, halved or cut into chunks 1 cup sliced or diced seeded cucumbers (optional)
  • 2 cups medium sized Bibb lettuce leaves (or other pretty lettuce leaves)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons toasted sliced or chopped pecans, walnuts, or almonds

1. Heat a gas grill to medium-high heat. Scrape the grill grates clean. If using, put a grill basket or grill topper on the grill to heat. (If you don't have a grill basket, you can use a cast-iron skillet; see below.)

2. Trim the ends of the squashes or eggplant and cut them into diagonal slices about ¼- to 3/8-inch-thick. (Cut Fairy Tales only in half.) Cut the remaining vegetables into pieces all about the same size (about 1 to 2 inches), leaving the smallest ones whole. (You can quarter small onions, leaving the stem end intact.)

3. Brush the sliced vegetables on both sides with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Lay on a baking sheet to transport to grill. Put the remaining vegetables in a bowl and toss with 2 to 3 tablespoons of oil and a little salt.

4. Arrange the sliced vegetables on the grill (either directly on the grates or on a grill topper), cover, and cook 4 to 6 minutes, or until well-marked on the first side. (Timing will really depend on your grill and on whether your grill has hot and cool spots.) Turn the slices over, cover again, and continue cooking until the bottom side is marked and the veggies are tender, about 3 to 5 minutes more. Transfer to a tray or plate and cover loosely.

5. Put the remaining vegetables in the grill basket or in a cast-iron pan, cover, and cook until browned and tender, stirring occasionally, 10 to 15 minutes total.

6. In a small bowl combine 3 tablespoons olive oil, the chopped basil, the vinegar, the sun-dried tomatoes, the olives, the garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Stir well to combine; the mixture will be chunky.

7. Put the wheatberries in a medium bowl and season with salt. (If cooked without salt, you will need to season well; start with ¼ teaspoon salt and add to taste.) Add the fresh tomatoes, cucumbers (if using), and 3 tablespoons of the dressing to the bowl. Mix well.

8. Arrange a few leaves of lettuce on serving plates or around the edges of one large platter. Arrange some of the sliced grilled veggies over the lettuce and spoon over a little dressing. Sprinkle with half of the grain-tomato mixture. Arrange the remaining grilled veggies over the grain-tomato mixture and spoon over a little dressing. Sprinkle with the remaining grain-tomato mixture and the remaining dressing, and garnish with the whole basil leaves and the nuts.


Grill Baskets and Toppers for Veggies

Vegetables can be a little tricky to grill, but if you slice them in wide (but not thick!) pieces, oil them well, and heat your grill thoroughly, you won’t have much trouble – especially if you don’t fuss with the veggies too much. Leave them to sear for a few minutes without trying to turn them.

But if you want to make the process go even more smoothly, flat grill toppers and grill baskets are indispensable. I like the enameled-steel or stainless-steel ones, especially ones with more holes. The toppers are great for slices of eggplant and zucchini, onion rings, and large mushroom caps.

A grill basket, which is wonderful for chopped vegetables, essentially allows you to stir-fry (or sauté) on the grill. An alternative is a cast-iron skillet. Put the skillet on to preheat with the grill; it will get good and hot. Then use the skillet as you would on the stovetop – with a generous amount of oil.