Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Grilled Zucchini (and other summer squash)

How to cut zucchini is probably the last thing Michael Ruhlman intended to teach people with his Ruhlman's Twenty book (here is my review).  Actually, it's the last thing I expected to learn too, yet it's the most fabulous tip I have picked up from the book so far.  In his Grilled Vegetables recipe, he instructs you to cut summer squash into quarters lengthwise.  But of course!  Why didn't I think of this before?  I've never been happy with the usual ways of cutting zucchini for the grill.  If you slice them lengthwise, there are always those ends with too much skin.  If you slice them crosswise, there are too many little pieces to flip.  And both ways result in a bit of sticking to the grill in the center of each slice where the seeds are.   Ruhlman's way has many advantages.  It distributes the skin evenly among all the pieces.  It places the seeds at one edge of each piece, making it much easier to dislodge them from the grill than when the seeds are in the middle of each piece.  It produces a nice contrast between the slightly charred corner with the seeds and juicy thick part near the skin.  I took it a step further and cut my zucchini into 8 lengthwise wedges instead of 4, resulting in more surfaces to brown.  Of course, you have to use your best judgement about the number of wedges -- the bigger the zucchini, the more wedges.

Grilled Summer Squash

My favorite summer squash are zucchini and cousa (plump squash with pale green skin), but yellow squash works well too.  Pomegranate molasses and zaatar spice blend are available at Whole Foods, and both are optional.  If you want to skip the marinade entirely, rub the squash with 2 Tbsp olive oil.  But the extra 2 minutes you'll spend making the marinade will be worth the trouble.  I promise!

Serves 4

For the Marinade:
1/2 tsp soy sauce (I prefer Tamari, Japanese style soy sauce)
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 garlic clove mashed to a paste
1/2 tsp pomegranate molasses (optional)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp Zaatar spice blend (optional)

For the Grill:
1.5 Lb summer squash, scrubbed clean, ends trimmed
Salt and pepper
Oil for the grill

Marinade Instructions:

In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, mustard, garlic, and pomegranate molasses.  Mix with a fork until combined.  Drizzle in oil while whisking.  Stir in zaatar and mix well.
Grilling Instructions:

  1. Cut the squash in half lengthwise. Then cut each half into 4 wedges lengthwise by cutting toward the seeds (3 wedges if zucchini are small). Lay squash out on paper towels in a single layer. Sprinkle generously with kosher salt on both sides and let sit for 15-30 minutes.  The squash should release a lot of moisture. 
  2. Preheat the grill to high.  When the grill is ready, dry the squash thoroughly on paper towels (new ones -- the ones under squash will be soaked), sprinkle with black pepper, and toss with marinade in the platter you plan to serve them in (stir the marinade before pouring over squash). 
  3. Dunk a wad of paper towel into oil, hold it with tongs, and wipe the grill 5 times. Lay out the squash perpendicular to the grill grates. Cover the grill and turn down the heat to medium. Don't wash the platter. Cook until grill marks form, 3-5 minutes. Flip, and cook until grill marks form on the other side, 3-5 minutes. Remove back to the platter with remaining marinade setting each piece skin side down.
Can be served hot, warm, or cold.  These little squashes are really good drizzled with yogurt.  I like to add the remaining half of mashed garlic clove to the yogurt, and season it with salt and pepper.  Put the whole thing into a squeeze bottle (you might need to cut the tip to make it a bit wider) and drizzle over zucchini.  A sprinkle of some delicate herb doesn't hurt either.  

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I just tried this last night and it was tasty. Thanks for posting!