Thu Aug 24, 2017
The unofficial end of summer is near, and I feel like I haven't properly done the season right without some grilled squash—which is one of my favorite vegetables to cook over the fire. For me, I think the attraction to summer squash is actually its somewhat lack of flavor, which means when it cooks and caramelizes over the hot coals, there's a big transformation in taste that's wholly unique from any other way to prepare this veggie. I most commonly just grill up yellow and green squash and serve as is, but I went a step further this time around made them into these delicious sandwiches that paired the squash with an herbed goat cheese, balsamic vinegar, and arugula.
As I already mentioned, you're not getting a ton of flavor out of squash itself, which leaves the accompaniments to do the heavy lifting in that department. Still, I didn't want to totally overpower the squash in the final sandwiches, so thought a lightly flavored herbed goat cheese would be an ideal compliment. It was super simple to make—I just picked up soft chevre and mixed in a some thyme, chives, garlic, and extra virgin olive oil. You could also buy the pre-made herb goat cheese, but I personally don't mind taking the extra time to get the added freshness of the herbs when making it at home.
When I went to the market to buy the squash, they only had small specimens, which wasn't bad because those tend to be a bit more flavorful, but small squash can pose a technical challenge on the grill to keep the slices from slipping between the grates. So to help avoid that issue, I used my mandoline to make even slices on a bias, resulting in longer pieces that were less likely to fall victim to a fiery fate.
Once I had all the squash sliced, I put them in a large bowl and coated with extra virgin olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper. I'm also keen on using a bit of crushed red pepper too, and honestly just forgot to add in here, so if you don't mind a little extra heat, I think a bit of that would probably make these sandwiches all the better.
While I love grilled squash, my usual M.O. when cooking it is to get them super soft and totally browned. My wife complains that this kills the vegetable, rendering it more of a grilled mush than anything else. So I'm more careful with how I cook them now, trying to achieve a softness that retains a bit of crispness, while also getting light caramelization. This is best done over medium or medium-high heat, where the squash can cook a bit slower.
When done cooking, I had a big bowl of beautiful squash. At this point, this is how I would normally serve them, but sandwiches were in order this day, so I kept at it.
And to make additional use of the grill, I toasted my slices of a rustic white loaf next. I'm always an advocate of using the grill toast bread and rolls before serving—this short and quick step adds a touch that always seems appreciated by my guests.
Then to assemble the sandwiches, I started by spreading a layer of the goat cheese across the warm and crusty bread. Then I topped with slices of the grilled squash, followed by a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. A final small handful of arugula finished them up before serving.
If there isn't a perfect grilled summer sandwich, I don't know what is. First and foremost, it was light and refreshing, a plus while we're still surviving the heat of August for a couple more weeks. Second, the squash provided a great taste of the grill with its sweet caramelized bits and faint smokiness that added great flavor to the veggie. When matched with the tangy and herbal goat cheese and peppery arugula, everything was in harmony, creating a very apt dish to put a nice cap to the unofficial close of summer.
Grilled Summer Squash Sandwiches
- Prep Time:
- 15 Minutes
- Cook Time:
- 5 Minutes
- Total Time:
- 20 Minutes
- 4 servings
- For the Herb Goat Cheese
- 5oz soft goat cheese
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped chives, thyme, and/or rosemary
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 2 medium zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch slices on a bias
- 2 medium yellow squash, cut into 1/4-inch slices on a bias
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 8 slices rustic white bread
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 large handfuls of arugula, washed and dried
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Kosher salt
- To make the herb goat cheese: In a small bowl, mix together goat cheese, herbs, 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
- Place zucchini and yellow squash slices in a large bowl, add in 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss to evenly distribute seasoning and coat squash in oil.
- Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over entire surface of coal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Place squash slices on grill and cook until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Flip and continue to cook until second side is lightly browned and squash is tender, about 2 minutes more. Transfer squash to a plate.
- Place bread slices on grill and cook until warm and lightly toasted, about 30 seconds per side. Transfer bread to plates or a serving platter. Spread goat cheese on 4 slices of bread, top with squash slices, and drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Finish sandwiches with a small handful of arugula on each followed by a slice of bread. Serve immediately.