'Grill-overs' add taste of weekend to weekday lunch

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Sometimes the promise of leftovers is almost more exciting than the meal itself! And who says leftovers can't be planned?

Whenever I'm heating my grill for dinner, I always toss on and roast a few red and yellow bell peppers, even if I don't plan to use them for that meal. Grilled peppers can add so much to so many other dishes, and they are almost effortless to make. Wrap them around fresh mozzarella for an easy appetizer, layer them in a sandwich, or chop them up and toss with pesto and pasta for a simple summer side dish.

I call these items "grilled-overs," and my favorite thing to do with them is assemble a grilled vegetable sandwich. It's just the thing to make the most of whatever I grilled too much of the night before. Particularly at the end of summer, I love to go to the farmers market and buy all kinds of vegetables, grill them and save them to make sandwiches.

Sometimes, I layer the veggies with shaved Parmesan and silky prosciutto, as in this recipe. Other times, I spread the bread with olive tapenade and a gracious layer of fresh goat cheese, then add the grilled veggies. Regardless, grilled vegetables make a crave-worthy, healthful sandwich. They also pack really easily, adding a bit of weekend sunshine to a weekday lunch.

When grilling vegetables, make sure all of the vegetables are lightly coated with oil before grilling. That will promote those beautiful grill marks, keep the veggies juicy and prevent sticking! You also need to cut the vegetables so that they are long enough to be placed perpendicular against the grates, usually at least 3 inches long. You won't need a vegetable basket if you slice them correctly.

Always place food horizontally on the cooking grates or the opposite direction of the cooking grates, never parallel. When you place the food in the same direction as the grates, you run the risk of having it slip through the grates and you won't get good grill marks. The best marks are short and go across the food.

Grill over a medium, direct heat and turn the vegetables once halfway through the cooking time; each vegetable will vary in the amount of time it needs. Really dense vegetables, such as potatoes, will need to be finished with indirect heat or the outside will burn by the time the inside is tender.

When you remove the vegetables from the grill, place them in a single layer on a sheet pan lined with a wire rack so they can cool completely before they are stored in the refrigerator. Make the sandwiches or serve the vegetables room temperature with a drizzle of fruity olive oil and a pinch of crunchy salt.

Grilled Veggie Sandwich with Roasted Garlic Mayonnaise

Start to finish: 1½ hour. (30 minutes active); Servings: 6

The vegetables are good hot or cold, so they can be grilled ahead and refrigerated. Assemble the sandwiches just before serving.

2 red bell peppers

2 yellow bell peppers

½ cup balsamic vinegar

¼ cup olive oil, plus more for the rolls

1 teaspoon dried rosemary

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

6 large portabella mushrooms, stems removed

1 medium zucchini, cut into 6 long strips

6 kaiser or onion rolls

Head of roasted garlic (See recipe below)

½ cup mayonnaise

1 bunch fresh basil, leaves only

½ pound chunk Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, thinly sliced with a vegetable peeler

½ pound thinly sliced prosciutto

Prepare and heat a gas or charcoal grill for high-heat, direct grilling.

Place the bell peppers on the grill to cook, turning frequently, until the skin is charred, about 5 minutes per side. Use tongs to remove the peppers and place them in a large bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Set aside for 30 minutes. Remove the skins. Slice peppers open, remove the seeds, then cut the peppers into large strips.

In a medium bowl, mix the vinegar, oil, rosemary and a bit of salt and pepper. Add the pepper strips, turning to coat, and set aside to marinate for at least 30 minutes. This also can be done up to 3 days ahead.

When ready to grill, return the grill to high heat.

Set the mushrooms and zucchini in a large bowl. Pour the marinade off the peppers and onto the zucchini and mushrooms, tossing lightly to coat.

Grill the mushrooms, gill side up, for 8 to 10 minutes, then flip and grill for another minute, or until tender. Grill the zucchini for 3 minutes per side.

Split the rolls. Brush the cut sides lightly with oil. Place cut side down on grill for 2 to 3 minutes, or until golden.

In a small bowl, mix the garlic and mayonnaise until smooth. Spread garlic mayonnaise both sides of each roll, then add mushrooms, zucchini, peppers, basil, cheese and prosciutto. Season with salt and pepper.

Per serving (without the prosciutto): 610 calories; 290 calories from fat (48 percent of total calories); 32 g fat (8 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 30 mg cholesterol; 53 g carbohydrate; 5 g fiber; 11 g sugar; 26 g protein; 1220 mg sodium.

Roasted Garlic

Start to finish: 40 minutes (mostly inactive); Makes 1 head

This is one of those pantry items that make almost any recipe better. Substitute roasted garlic for raw cloves when you want a mellower, smoky flavor. And if you are roasting one head, you might as well go ahead and make a few extra; they keep in the refrigerator for at least a week. Wrap each head in its own sheet of foil for easy grilling and storage.

1 head garlic

2 teaspoons olive oil

Heat a grill to medium, with one side prepped for indirect heat (for charcoal grills, bank the coals to one side; for gas grills, turn off one burner).

Remove the outer layer of papery skin from the garlic. Slice off the top ½ inch from the pointed top of the garlic head. Set the garlic, cut side up, on a large square of foil. Drizzle it with the olive oil, then wrap the foil up and over it the garlic to form a loose packet.

Set the garlic over the cooler side of the grill and cook for 40 minutes, or until the cloves are golden-brown and soft. Remove from the grill and let cool. To remove the cloves, simply squeeze the entire head (or each clove) and the cloves should pop out of their skins.