I’m always searching for a creative twist on grilling. Since we cook outside so frequently, thinking beyond burgers, chicken, and steak is a proposal that is wildly embraced by my family and a welcome relief to their collective palates.
Browsing through my old Gourmet magazines, I found the perfect elevated grilling idea: Ziti with Grilled Gazpacho Sauce and Sausage. Based on the classic Spanish soup, this broth-less version is a modern marriage of warm grilled vegetables, robustly flavorful sauce, and sweet Italian sausage. With a few adjustments to the original, this simple grill-based pasta dish has managed to replace one of our many, standard meat meals to become a grilling family favorite.
Stir salt and pepper into 5 T olive oil. Peel and quarter onion; separately thread onion pieces and tomatoes on metal or pre-soaked wooden skewers; set aside. Trim bottoms and tops off of bell peppers; half peppers length-wise and remove seeds. Trim and halve zucchinis, length-wise. Peel garlic cloves. Brush prepared vegetables and garlic with the seasoned olive oil mixture. Place oiled garlic on a double layer of foil and wrap tightly, twisting to seal.
Prepare grill for direct-heat cooking, medium, high heat. Grill vegetables and garlic covered, turning occasionally:
Transfer as cooked to covered platter. Peel peppers. Divide tomatoes, bell peppers, and zucchini in half. In a food processor or blender, transfer half of the grilled tomatoes, 3 bell pepper halves, 4 zucchini halves, the entire onion, all of the garlic, 1 t salt, 1 t pepper, remaining olive oil, vinegar, sugar, ¼ c basil, and ¼ c parsley; puree until as smooth as possible, adding additional olive oil, if necessary.
Chop remaining peppers and zucchini; combine with the remaining tomatoes. Continue to keep vegetables warm on covered platter; set aside.
Grill sausages, 12-15 minutes, or until browned and cooked through. While sausages are grilling, cook ziti, according to directions, until al dente; drain. Add sauce and grilled vegetables to warm pasta. Sprinkle with remaining herbs and cheese; serve with sausages. Makes 6 servings.