Salt the tomatoes:
Sprinkle the cut sides of the tomatoes with kosher salt and set the tomatoes, cut side down, on a rack over a rimmed baking sheet. Let the tomatoes drain for 30 minutes while you grill the other vegetables.
Grill the vegetables:
Heat a gas grill to high. Using a vegetable peeler, peel strips of skin from the eggplant lengthwise: it will look striped (alternatively, use a fork to score the skin deeply). Trim the ends. Cut the eggplant crosswise into rounds about 3/8 inch thick. Brush both sides of the slices with plenty of olive oil and season well with kosher salt. Put the slices on the grill grate and cover. Grill, checking occasionally with tongs, until the slices are well browned on both sides, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Remove eggplant from the grill and wrap in foil for 15 to 20 minutes, until softened and fully cooked.
Thread the onion slices onto thin metal skewers (poultry lacers work great) or soaked wooden skewers. Brush liberally with olive oil and season with kosher salt. Put the onion skewers and the pepper on the grates and cook, turning with tongs as needed until the onion slices are well browned on both sides and the pepper skin is blackened on all sides about 15 minutes total. Remove the onions from the grill and wrap them in foil for at least 10 minutes, until they are softened and completely cooked through. Wrap the pepper in foil or put it in a paper bag to cool completely. When the pepper is cool, peel off the blackened skin and remove the stem and seeds.
Lower the grill heat to medium. Rub the tomatoes lightly with olive oil. Put the tomatoes on the grill, cut side down, and grill for 7 to 9 minutes. Carefully turn them over with a spatula and move them to the coolest area of the grill. Cook until much of the moisture is gone, 8 to 12 minutes. Using a spatula, press them gently to flatten and encourage the moisture to release.
Finish the compote:
Cut the peeled and seeded grilled bell pepper into very small dice and put it in a medium bowl. (Peel the pepper over a colander set in a bowl to capture all those delicious juices; add them too.) Dice the grilled eggplant, onion, and tomatoes and add them to the bowl. Fold in the salt, mint, basil, vinegar, orange juice, garlic, and oil. Let sit for 15 minutes. Taste and season with more salt and pepper, if you like. Serve at room temperature.
Make Ahead Tips
The compote keeps in the refrigerator for several days.
Grilled Vegetable Pasta: Cook 1/2 lb. dried curly pasta, drain, toss with a little olive oil and kosher salt, and add 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 cups of the compote. Garnish with more chopped fresh herbs and a little grated orange zest.
Ravioli or Tortellini with Grilled Vegetable Sauce: Gently heat 1 cup of the compote. Cook 1/2 lb. ravioli or tortellini; whisk a few tablespoons of the pasta water into the vegetable compote. Spoon over the pasta; garnish with toasted pine nuts and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Grilled Vegetable Crostini: Brush thin baguette slices with olive oil and toast or broil. Top each with a heaping teaspoon of the compote and garnish with a sprig of mint.
Grilled Vegetable Dip: Put the compote in a wide bowl and surround with toasted, salted pita wedges.
Grilled Vegetable Pizza: Spread 1/3 cup of the compote on an 8-inch round of shaped pizza dough. Sprinkle with grated Fontina and bake at 450°F for 12 to 14 minutes, or cook on an outdoor grill.
nutrition information (per serving):
per 1/4 cup;
Photo: Scott Phillips