This easy Grilled Vegetable Salad (khorovats salad) is a summer staple on any Armenian picnic or cookout menu. It’s the perfect side dish for grilled meats, and an ideal addition to a vegetarian meze platter. It’s also easy to make with roasted vegetables if the weather is not grilling-friendly.
(This recipe was originally published in 2013, but was updated with new photos and content in 2020).
There are so many ideas that come to mind when I think about going on a picnic. I see wicker picnic baskets filled with parchment-wrapped sandwiches, plastic tubs of potato salad, perhaps even a bottle of Champagne for a truly special occasion.
I see fields of flowers, sandy beaches, and some of my favorite picnic-inspired entertainment. One of my favorites is entitled Picnic at Hanging Rock and tells the mysterious story of a group of girls in 1900 who go on a picnic to the incredible Hanging Rock rock formation in Victoria, Australia where some of them disappear without a trace. It’s an amazing film that I highly recommend.
Alternatively, I also think of one of my favorite Disney cartoons entitled Tea for Two Hundred, which entails Donald Duck going on a picnic and then falling asleep. A swarm of ants attend the picnic, and the rest is history.
Memories from Armenian picnics
My personal experience with picnics is far different from those tales. While I’ve had my fair share of picnics atop beach blankets, the ones I remember most fondly take place at Colt State Park in Bristol, RI. Ever since before I was born my family has been going there during the summer months.
For many years we would attend the annual Armenian picnic there on Father’s Day. Dozens of Armenian families would collect and take turns visiting each others’ picnic tables, snacking, playing backgammon, and even organizing soccer games in the fields nearby as well as fun obstacle courses for the kids. I have very fond memories from those picnics.
Armenian picnics don’t exactly feature run-of-the-mill picnic fare. The menu usually goes like this. We arrive in the morning with a full cooler and plans to spend the entire day there. Breakfast is hard boiled eggs (boiled at home), herbs, and pita bread.
We would usually stop at Dunkin’ Donuts and my grandparents would pick up a box or two of munchkins, and coffees all around. Later we would snack on sunflower seeds, cracking them between our teeth as we walk the path along the water. We’ve done this hundreds of times.
We get started early on dinner. “Khorovats,” or Armenian barbecue, is perpetually on the menu. It’s usually pieces of pork loin or beef, which have been marinated in sliced onions and seasonings. They’re arranged on long metal skewers and the portable grill heats up in anticipation.
Meanwhile my mom gets started on the grilled vegetable salad. It’s a fixture on our picnic menus. Occasionally, this salad will get prepped in advance at home to save trouble in making it on site.
But there have been many occasions where we would be wrist-deep in grilled eggplant while listening to the sounds of the ocean. It’s pretty fantastic either way. This salad has not only graced our picnic table dozens of times, but it’s also a popular dish when we are making “khorovats” at home.
How to make Armenian grilled vegetable salad (khorovats salad)
Honestly, regardless of the main attraction on your menu, this salad is an outstanding side dish which will be loved by all. It captures the smoky flavor of a variety of grilled vegetables including eggplant and bell peppers. You can definitely use different colors for your bell peppers, but we usually do a combination of red and green or just red.
Also, in the long history of this salad, we used to grill the tomatoes as well. We’ve now found that adding them raw allows them to maintain their integrity much better.
Begin by either grilling or roasting whole eggplants and bell peppers. We usually make this salad in the summer, and grill it, but we also make it in the off-season when roasting the vegetables is a lot easier. Both methods work well.
The easiest way to peel your grilled veggies is to transfer them into a plastic bag after they are cooked. Let them steam in there for a few minutes to loosen the skin. Then one by one remove them from the bag and peel, stem, and seed. Chop the veggies and transfer to a mixing bowl.
Then add chopped tomatoes, sliced onion, chopped parsley, and then dress the salad with lemon juice, olive oil, and seasonings. Serve the salad cold or at room temperature.
Other picnic and cookout-friendly recipes you may like
- Hawaiian Macaroni Salad
- Creamy Pesto Pasta Salad with Peas and Sun-dried Tomatoes
- Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad
- Grilled Marinated Chicken Breast with Yogurt and Spices
- Roast Beef Sandwiches with Tomato Chutney & Rosemary Goat Cheese
- Chèvre Which Way But Loose Burger
- SmokeShack Burger
I hope you enjoy this stand-out grilled vegetable salad. It’s truly one of my favorite things to eat regardless of what it shares a plate with (and it’s healthy!). I have wonderful memories of family picnics ever since I was a little girl, and this salad was always part of it.
Perhaps it can become a fixture on your picnic or cookout menu, and undoubtedly a family favorite as well. Don’t forget to leave a comment below if you’ve tried this recipe!
Armenian Grilled Vegetable Salad
- 2 medium eggplants
- 2 red bell peppers
- 2 green bell peppers (can also substitute more red bell peppers, or another color if you prefer)
- 2 tomatoes chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1/2 large onion peeled, cut into thirds lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
- 3/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1/3 cup lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt or to taste
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Pinch cayenne pepper or other hot pepper if desired
- Grill the eggplants and bell peppers, turning occasionally and piercing the eggplants as needed to let steam escape, until all of the skin is blackened. The vegetables should be cooked through and tender.
- Place the hot grilled vegetables in a large plastic bag and twist it closed. Let them sit for a few minutes in the plastic bag to steam. This will help the skin peel off much more easily. Peel the eggplants and peppers (it helps to have a small bowl of cold water nearby to rinse off your fingers as necessary).
- Remove the stems from the eggplants and the stems and seeds from the peppers and chop everything into a 1/4-to-1/2-inch dice. Transfer all the chopped grilled vegetables to a large bowl.
- To the bowl, add the remaining ingredients and stir well. Adjust seasoning as needed and then serve at room temperature or cold.