Saturday, February 18, 2012

Grilled Vegetable Terrine

Imagine a grocery bag brimming with fresh vegetables: squash, eggplant, mushrooms, red peppers, and spinach. Now picture it all being compacted into the size of a cheesecake. This terrine was my attempt to compete with the turkey -- yes, I have this very same showdown every year. It's the centerpiece vegetarian dish I made for Thanksgiving, and I wanted it to be beautiful to look at without looking anything like a meat substitute.

It took 24 hours, 2 foil-wrapped bricks, and a little bit of babying, but I don't mind. In my view, that's what a Thanksgiving meal should entail: ritual and presentation. Each layer is seasoned, grilled, and bursting with smoky flavor; egg and goat cheese add richness in between it all.

Grilled Vegetable Terrine
(serves 8)

2 Not-Beef bouillon cubes
white wine vinegar
6-7 large portobello mushroom caps
4 medium zucchini
3 medium yellow squash
1 medium eggplant
6 red bell peppers (roasted and peeled)
20 ounces fresh spinach (blanched and squeezed dry)
4 ounces goat cheese
4 eggs
1 cup fresh parsley  (loosely packed)
2 cloves garlic
olive oil
sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste

Mix bouillon cubes with 1/3 cup of olive oil and 1/2 cup of white wine vinegar. Pour mixture over the gill-side of the mushrooms and set aside. Run the zucchini, eggplant, and squash over a mandolin. (Each slice should be about 1/8 inch thick, so adjust your mandolin accordingly.) Lightly sprinkle each slice with salt and pepper.

Now fire up your outdoor grill. This would be a great time to roast the red peppers first. Next, grill the sliced vegetables over a high flame for about 3 minutes per side. (You will need to do this in batches.) Set vegetables aside to cool. Finally, grill mushrooms gill-side-down for about 4 minutes, then turn them, weigh them down with a brick, and grill for another 4 minutes.

Into a food processor, add the spinach, goat cheese, eggs, garlic, parsley, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Blend mixture until smooth. Now you're ready to start assembling the terrine.

I formed my terrine in a spring-form pan, but you could use a loaf pan or even a casserole dish. I started with the zucchini just because it looked pretty; the first layer you put down will be the top of the terrine. Other than that, the order is unimportant. Between each layer of vegetables, spoon about 1/4 cup of the spinach mixture. Continue until you have used all of your vegetables.

Place the spring-form pan on a pizza pan or rimmed baking sheet, place a slightly smaller pan on top of the terrine, and stack two foil-wrapped bricks on top of that. Allow this crazy-looking contraption to sit in the fridge overnight. The next day, remove everything from the top of the terrine, pour off any excess water that has been pushed out of the terrine during the compression, and bake it in a 350 degree oven for 2 hours. Allow it to cool completely before turning it onto a serving plate. Slice with a sharp knife. It's delicious served with a little ricotta and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. 


  1. This was great!
    Since I've made a terrine similar to this before, I knew how it should look. I think the average cook might need a bit more explanation on assembly. Maybe a diagram.
    The egg, cheese spinach mixture is what made this terrine stand out. Very nice. I've always just used chevre, but also never cooked it after assembly.
    I am comfortable with knowing what a pinch of salt & pepper means, but many people are unsure.
    Do you add oil when grilling? I brushed all veggies with olive oil, but the recipe didn't say.
    The baking made it so nice.
    It's a winner!