Short Recipe: Pan-Grilled Fig & Veggie Salad, in Fig Vinegar

I first discovered the wonders of a perfectly-done Grilled Vegetable Salad at Kith Cafe in Park Mall, an unpretentious cafe and diner at Dhoby Ghaut in Singapore. And I have been in love since! Why is that everything that’s been grilled tastes so good – Chicken wings, seafood, meat on skewers (satay), and even vegetables! And I’d been attempting to make my own, although with little success since I don’t have a grill. *hic*

But it’s alright… I’ll make do with what I have, so why not “pan-grill”? This is a 100% unorthodox method and the goods sure don’t taste as good as its properly grilled counterparts, but this should cut it for people who don’t have grills or broilers at home. Most of all, you get to savour these commonly neglected vegetables at their very best – Caramelized, slightly crisp, and drizzled with a light glaze of Fig Vinegar. Enjoy!

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Ingredients for Pan-Grilled Fig & Veggie Salad: Serves 3-4

Pan-Grilled Fig & Veggie Salad, in Fig Vinegar

1 large red capsicum, cut into long thin strips
1 large yellow capsicum, cut into long thin strips
1 large aubergine / brinjal / eggplant, cut into thin rounds
1 zucchini, cut into thin rounds
2 fresh figs, cut into thin rounds
Mild olive oil, 2 tablespoons
Sea salt, to taste
Fig vinegar, to drizzle (or Balsamic Vinegar will do just as fine)

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1. Heat a large flat non-stick pan with the olive oil to medium-high. Place vegetables on pan when it’s significantly hot (not to the extent of smoking and burning).

2. “Pan-grill” under all the above vegetables turn soft but not mushy, when they’re coated with a nice brown caramelized exterior. It would take about 5-10 minutes for most varieties of the vegetables. Crisp sides are a bonus!

3. Dab off excess oil with kitchen towels. Fig rounds do not have to be grilled – Serve them as they are.

4. Dress with Fig Vinegar, as much as you desire. Balsamic vinegar and light vinaigrettes are possible replacements as well!

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Some illustrations to the process…

I love aubergine! I love capsicum!

You’d notice that the aubergine rounds have turned a little translucent in the process of the “pan-grilling” – Why, one bad thing about my little “pan-grilling” experiment is that it’d use a lot more oil in the process than orthodox grilling. This is because vegetables like aubergine and zucchini absorb oil very easily and are most suited for grilling if we want them healthy and non-greasy! Otherwise, they’re still delicious!

Spot the pair of chopsticks in the background – A most telling indicator of my Asian roots. #chubkaichun and I use chopsticks for whatever cuisine we’re attempting… French, Italian, English. Fallacious but just too convenient!

A little charred and caramelized.

Remember this from We’re eating: Toasted Baguette in Light Tomato Reduction with Fig Vinegar? Fig Vinegar obviously complements our sweet fig rounds perfectly!

Feel free to play around with the mix of ingredients as you like… I’d had versions with green apple, cherry tomatoes, asparagus, onions and mushrooms. Top with Greek Feta, Mint and other fresh herbs for a Mediterranean take on it! The sky’s the limit here.

Note: Here is a link to http://kith.com.sg/ for the Singaporeans who’re interested in discovering a relaxed and minimalist cafe with excellent coffee, iced teas and grilled vegetable salads (my recommendation)!

Posted by #phangchewfat

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