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Center Stage: Searing Grill Vegetable Salad and BBQ Ranch Dressing with Cook the Story

Christine Pittman of Cook the Story loves to provide recipes for quick weeknight meals so home cooks can have more precious time with their families. She also loves to create easy appetizers, quick desserts and simple dishes for entertaining, so readers can spend more time having fun and less time doing prep work. She can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube.

One of the first things we bought when we moved into our small basement apartment in Toronto was a counter top electric grill. We didn’t have much outdoor space for grilling and we knew we didn’t want to give up grilling quick dinners. A year later we bought a small house with a yard and I assumed our counter top grill would go to the basement to collect dust. I was wrong. We tried to shovel our back patio whenever it snowed, but after a couple of storms we gave up and our grill was buried. So I dusted off that counter top grill and we were cooking again in no time.

Recently, Hamilton Beach sent me the Searing Grill to test out. It brought back good memories of the first years living with my husband. We quickly discovered this new grill is far better than the one we had back in Toronto, and it’s dishwasher-friendly, which makes cleanup simple. It can get up to a really high temperature which is perfect for burgers, steaks and chicken. It’s that intense heat that gets you great grill marks on the veggies and cheese in the salad I’m sharing with you today.

The thing I like best about this grill is the non-stick cooking surface. It’s perfect for grilling cheese.

Do you know about grilling cheese? There are certain varieties of cheese that get soft but not messy, drippy or gooey when heated. The two I use most often are halloumi, a Greek variety, and queso para freir, a Mexican frying cheese. It’s always a bit risky to put these cheeses on your regular outdoor grill as I’ve had them stick and leave a coating behind on the grates. But they don’t stick at all to the Searing Grill grate. They cook perfectly with beautiful grill marks on the outside and a soft, oozing texture on the inside.

For this salad, I grilled summer vegetables and let them come to room temperature on the counter while I grilled the Mexican frying cheese. To serve, just pile the veggies onto some greens and add the dressing and fried cheese. To make the dressing, mix bottled ranch dressing with bottled barbecue sauce. The barbecue sauce adds an extra summery touch to the salad.

This salad is so good. I wish it hadn’t taken me so long to come up with it. I know we would have been eating it weekly from our Toronto days until now. Oh well, I guess we’ll just have to start today!

To enter to win a Hamilton Beach Searing Grill of your own, visit my blog, Cook the Story today. Here’s my Salad with Grilled Vegetables and BBQ Ranch Dressing recipe for you print and use all summer long.

Salad with Grilled Vegetables and BBQ Ranch Dressing

Yield: Serves 4
Author: Hamilton Beach Test Kitchen


  • 3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. pepper
  • 12 asparagus spears, trimmed
  • 6 large cherry tomatoes
  • 1 small summer squash sliced in ¼ in. rounds
  • 2 portobello mushrooms, stem removed
  • 8-½ inch slices of queso para freir (Mexican Frying Cheese)
  • 6 Tbsp. ranch dressing
  • 2 Tbsp. barbecue sauce
  • 8 cups of salad greens


  1. Preheat Hamilton Beach Searing Grill to SEAR temperature. Mix red wine, olive oil, dijon, salt and pepper together in a large bowl. Add the asparagus, tomatoes, squash and mushrooms, and stir with tongs to coat evenly. Transfer the vegetables to the preheated grill. It’s okay if things overlap a bit. Add the queso slices to the remaining vinaigrette and turn to coat, then set aside.
  2. Grill the vegetables until there are grill marks on the underside, about 3-5 minutes. Flip, and cook until more grill marks appear, another 3-5 minutes.
  3. Mix the ranch dressing and barbecue sauce together in a small jar or bowl.
  4. Remove squash, tomatoes and asparagus from the grill and set aside on a plate. Flip the mushrooms again and let them continue to cook.
  5. Put cheese on grill just until it has grill marks on the underside, about 1-2 minutes. Flip and cook until grill marks appear, 1-2 minutes more. Transfer to a cutting board and cut each slice into 5-6 pieces. Remove mushrooms from grill and cut them into ½ inch slices. Cut tomatoes in half.
  6. Put 2 cups of salad greens on each plate. Drizzle each with 2 tablespoons of the BBQ ranch dressing and top with ¼ of the veggies and grilled cheese.


This salad has grilled vegetables, Mexican frying cheese and a BBQ ranch dressing. It’s perfect as a side dish or appetizer in the summer! Note that you can substitute Italian dressing for the ranch for an equally delicious twist.

The high temperature of the Searing Grill makes it possible to get outdoor flavor indoors. Plus, the hood, grill plate and tray are removable and dishwasher-safe, making cleanup a breeze.

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  1. Your salad looks wonderful. Grilling is so popular these days. We could have used an indoor grill this week as it has been raining for 7 days. I like the bbq ranch idea too.

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