Chef Steven Satterfield thinks veggies should be the star of your grill—and he makes a strong case for that in his latest book, Vegetable Revelations.
“When people fire up their grills, they are not always thinking about vegetables. They’re thinking about their meats,” notes Satterfield, co-founder of Atlanta’s Miller Union restaurant. “May is such a great growing season all across the country. There are so many delicious veggies waiting to be thrown on the grill.”
Satterfield has earned critical acclaim at Miller Union for his focus on cooking with the seasons, establishing lasting relationships with local farmers and, in particular, the way that he approaches vegetables.
He credits Atlanta’s multicultural scene and international markets, along with his travels, as influences in his cooking. Satterfield says, “I've taken cues from other cultures on how they can eat vegetables, or different flavor profiles that they have that I thought would work well with certain vegetables.”
For his first cookbook, Root to Leaf, Satterfield dissected how the seasons affected the way he cooks with vegetables. In Vegetable Revelations, (Harper Wave, April 2023), he wanted to make the recipes feel more fluid, drawing inspiration from his travels across the globe. The chapters are broken down by types of vegetables—such as brassicas, roots, nightshades—to help readers grow more familiar with each category and explore the breadth of what they are capable of.
“There’s so much uncharted territory with how vegetables can be prepared—not only the cooking methods but also how they are cut can change the outcome of the dish completely,” explains Satterfield. “Think about a crown of broccoli: If you cut it in half and grill it in two large halves, it’s a very different outcome than if you were to cut it into lots of little florets and boil it quickly, or grated it to make a raw salad. There are just so many different ways that one vegetable can be expressed—I get a little geeked out!”
For holidays like Memorial Day, Satterfield fires up his charcoal grill and loads it up with a bunch of vegetables of different types. He’ll probably cook some fish or chicken too, setting up for a big, long feast with friends and family. The perk of cooking like this? The extra food, he says: “We’ll all have these amazing leftovers that we can combine in various ways throughout the rest of the work week.”
When having a crowd over, dips and finger food are essential to Satterfield. This charred eggplant dip might seem like the perfect thing to prepare while waiting for the grill to fully heat up, but Satterfield suggests holding off until you sit down for dinner to start roasting the eggplants. When you take your mains off the grill, nestle the eggplants in the remaining embers as they’re cooling. “It’s really going to do a nice job of charring the outside, getting that smoky flavor and really tenderizing the eggplant all the way through,” Satterfield says, adding, “It’s a very passive way of cooking.” Then take the charred veggies out toward the end of the meal for when guests still want something to nibble while deep in conversation.
But if you want to serve the dip as an appetizer to start off the festivities, section off a portion of the grill with some cooler coals and stick the eggplants in there.
In lieu of sesame seed–based tahini, as is traditional in baba ganoush, Satterfield opts for sunflower butter because it’s subtler. Sunflower butter, or “sun butter,” can now be found in grocery stores across the United States, but in a pinch, Satterfield notes that unsweetened, natural peanut butter would also work well.
To serve, Satterfield suggests presenting the dip mezze-style, with grilled flatbreads and a variety of veggies. (Some of his favorites include cherry tomatoes and pickled onions.) If you have leftovers or want to experiment, Satterfield has some ideas: “Spread it onto the base of a plate and build a salad on top. You can also use it as a base sauce for grilled steak with some other vegetables piled on top. It's pretty versatile!”
On Memorial Day, Satterfield always has a big ice bucket of wine out for guests. For early summer sipping, he reaches for approachable, refreshing whites, like Assyrtiko from Greece. One in particular he goes back to is the Domaine Sigalas Assyrtiko Santorini (2020 vintage: 90 points, $48), plush and fruity, with a bit of salinity. If you’re in a summer red mood though, Satterfield also suggests cru Beaujolais, in particular from the Fleurie appellation, such as the Yann Bertrand Vieilles Vignes Fleurie 2020.
Charred Eggplant Dip
Excerpted from Vegetable Revelations, published by Harper Wave, April 2023
- 2 globe eggplants (about 1 3/4 pounds)
- 1/4 cup sunflower butter (aka sunbutter), preferably without sugar or any additives
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 clove minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons smoked sea salt or medium-grain plain sea salt, plus more for garnish
- Smoked paprika for garnish
1. Prepare a hot fire in a charcoal grill and let the coals die down until the embers are glowing. Push aside some of the hot embers so you have a thin base layer in the center of the grill. Place the eggplants over this base layer and shovel the remaining embers over and around each one to partially cover them. Let the eggplants roast in the embers until the skin is completely charred and wrinkly and they look deflated, turning once, about 18 to 20 minutes. Set the eggplants aside until cool enough to handle.
2. Remove the stem end and most of the charred skin from each eggplant with your hands. It’s okay if some small bits of char are still clinging to the flesh. Place the eggplant in a food processor and add the sunflower butter, lemon juice, garlic and salt. Puree until smooth, about 1 minute, scraping down the sides as needed.
3. Spoon the dip into a serving bowl and sprinkle with smoked paprika and a little more salt. Serves 6-8.
Nine Greek Whites to Kick Off Summer
Note: The following list is a selection of outstanding and very good wines from recent tastings. More options can be found in our Wine Ratings Search.
Malagouzia Florina Turtles Vineyard 2021
Score: 91 | $24
WS Review: Graceful and mouthwatering, this light- to medium-bodied white has a salty tang underscoring flavors of pineapple, pink grapefruit granita and accents of verbena and honeysuckle. Creamy finish. Drink now through 2026. 20,000 cases made, 700 cases imported.—A.N.
Chardonnay Péloponnèse Almyra 2021
Score: 89 | $26
WS Review: Fresh and juicy, this light- to medium-bodied white has hints of vanilla and spices, with flecks of creamed apple, candied ginger and verbena. Drink now through 2025. 5,000 cases made, 500 cases imported.—A.N.
Sauvignon Blanc Florina 2021
Score: 88 | $27
WS Review: This creamy, mineral-laced white is light- to medium-bodied and subtle on the palate, where finely woven layers of grapefruit sorbet, crunchy peach, Meyer lemon zest and chive blossom flavors expand, buoyed by sleek, lightly mouthwatering acidity. Drink now. 15,000 cases made, 2,000 cases imported.—A.N.
Assyrtiko Péloponnèse Monograph
Score: 88 | $20
WS Review: A lithe, light-bodied white, with pretty cherry blossom and spice aromas, plus nectarine, melon and Meyer lemon peel flavors underscored by a tang of salinity. Drink now. 2,100 cases made, 300 cases imported.—A.N.
Moschofilero-Roditis-Assyrtiko Péloponnèse NōTIOS 2021
Score: 88 | $17
WS Review: A lithe, light-bodied white, with sleek acidity well-knit to notes of melon, yellow plum, grapefruit pith and lime blossoms. Stony finish. Moschofilero, Roditis and Assyrtiko. Drink now. 4,000 cases made, 300 cases imported.—A.N.
Malagousia Attica 2021
Score: 87 | $21
WS Review: A lively, light-bodied white, featuring chive blossom and flint accents to the juicy mix of pink grapefruit sorbet and poached apricot fruit. Drink now. 1,300 cases made, 350 cases imported.—A.N.
Assyrtiko Florina High Altitude Wine The North 2020
Score: 87 | $18
WS Review: A juicy, light-bodied white, offering ripe melon, white peach puree, lime blossom and chalk notes. Lightly tangy on the spiced finish. Drink now. 6,000 cases made, 1,000 cases imported.—A.N.
Moschofilero Mantinia 2021
Score: 87 | $16
WS Review: A fresh, easy-drinking white, with juicy pineapple, lime zest, fresh tarragon and blood orange notes. Drink now. 3,200 cases made, 3,200 cases imported.—A.N.
Assyrtiko Péloponnèse 2021
Score: 87 | $15
WS Review: A fresh, easy-drinking sipper, with a zesty edge to the flavors of nectarine, blood orange peel and graham cracker. Drink now. 1,880 cases made, 1,880 cases imported.—A.N.