Tunisian Grilled Summer Vegetable Salad, or Mechouia

We’ve been capitalizing on the summer harvest by grilling lots of vegetables. It’s a favorite way to prepare eggplant, fennel, summer squash, mushrooms and other vegetables. The Tunisians, it turns out, like grilled vegetables, too.

Mediterranean food guru Nancy Harmon Jenkins gave us this recipe for a famous Tunisian grilled vegetable salad known as mechouia. The dish often is eaten as a first course.

This dish, from Nancy’s book The Essential Mediterranean (HarperCollins Publishers, 2003), includes sweet peppers as well as tomatoes, green chili peppers, and onions. The vegetables are basically grilled, sliced, and mixed together. (Some recipes call for the vegetables to be puréed.)

The vegetables are dressed with a citrus dressing made from extra virgin olive oil and fresh lemon juice.

Nancy gives you the option of garnishing the dish with salted capers, chopped hard-cooked eggs, oil-packed tuna, preserved lemon peel, or olives.

To begin, grill the sweet and hot peppers together on the grill, peel them, and slice them lengthwise.  The tomatoes are blackened, halved, peeled, and cut into strips and added to the peppers. Similarly, the onions are blackened, peeled, sliced, and added to the other vegetables.

Chopped parsley is combined with the vegetables.  Finish with the citrus dressing.

You can serve the mechouia as is, or with the optional garnishes. “Although it may be served immediately, this dish is really better if it can be set aside for several hours to let the flavors meld and develop before it is served,” Nancy says.

Bon appétit,

Claude S. Weiller
Vice President of Sales & Marketing
California Olive Ranch