Labor Day is often our culinary send-off to summer. The signs of summer begin to wane. Darkness descends earlier, there is a chill in the air and the produce is beginning to change. I like to make up a big platter of colorful, complimentary vegetables, and on Labor Day I might grill up some barbecued chicken or shrimp alongside these tasty morsels.
Picture a platter of deep red and yellow sweet peppers, grilled purple eggplant slices and charred golden yellow rings of corn. This colorful vegetable combo makes great use of summer and early autumn produce, bursting with flavors. A large platter of these on the buffet table or served family-style can become the centerpiece for your Labor Day barbecue.
Serve these veggies with any grilled meat, fish or poultry. If you’re lucky to have leftovers, you can make so many other dishes out of what remains. And that can be a lifesaver when getting back into a flood of school and fall responsibilities.
Grilled veggie tips
■Cut leftover roasted corn off the cob; toss with frozen and defrosted edamame, and mix with favorite pesto for a great side dish.
■Leftover peppers can be pureed with some olive oil and a touch of balsamic for a silky sauce that is great over chicken, shrimp or pasta.
■Use any remaining vegetables as a base for a chopped salad. Chop the vegetables up, and add chopped arugula and romaine lettuce. Dress with favorite vinaigrette. Add cooked chicken or shrimp for a more substantial main course salad.
■Puree leftover vegetables with vegetable broth and fresh herbs and chill. Serve as a cold soup.
■Use any remaining peppers and eggplant for sandwiches.
Grilled Sweet Peppers, Eggplant & Corn
4 red bell peppers
4 yellow bell peppers
4 Japanese eggplants, sliced 1/2 inch thick
1/4 cup olive oil, plus extra for brushing the eggplant and corn
9 large ears of corn, each broken in half
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
Preheat the grill to medium-high.
Grill the peppers until charred on all sides, about 7 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a paper bag and fold over the top to close tightly. Let steam for 10 minutes. Peel and seed the peppers, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick strips. (I use a pizza cutter to do this.) Reserve.
Brush the eggplant slices with olive oil and grill on each side for about 3 to 4 minutes, or until the eggplant slices have grill marks and feel soft. Remove to a plate.
Brush the corn with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill until charred in spots, turning occasionally, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and cover to keep warm.
Heat the 1/4 cup of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bell pepper strips. Saute until heated through, stirring often, about 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup of the basil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Arrange the eggplant slices in the bottom of a large shallow platter, leaving room in the center. Spoon the peppers into the center and arrange the corn in circles around the edges of the platter. Garnish with the remaining 2 tablespoons of basil. Serves 12.
Per serving: 146 calories; 6 g fat (1 g saturated fat; 37 percent calories from fat); 23 g carbohydrates; 11 g sugar; 0 mg cholesterol; 112 mg sodium; 4 g protein; 6 g fiber.