Grilled Summer Squash
I've been good at staying on topic so far. Every recipe I've shared with you has featured meat in some form or another, and that's the way it should be. Realistically speaking, that's not always how it is though. I know, I know, the truth isn't always pretty, but it's still the truth. I pride myself at creating a non-discriminatory Meatwave, and even though everything obviously ways heavily on the meat side, there is room in my heart to embrace some totally non-meat items, as long as they're still grilled or smoked that is. So to my veggie friends out there, here's one of my favorite, and most simple, grilled non-meat delights, the summer squash.
Summer squash has been so in at my CSA the past few weeks. No other vegetable has made me as happy to pick up at distribution so far, since zucchinis and yellow squash are near the top of my list of all time favorite veggies. Even though my taste for these keeps me eating them all year round, they still signify summer, because there is no better way to prepare summer squash than throwing them on the grill. This past week I picked up 2 zucchinis and 1 yellow squash from the CSA (my preference between the two lays with the green variety).
After cleaning the squash, I sliced them in thirds length wise. I've found that how you cut the squash is essential for optimal end results. First I had to make sure that the slices are not too small to slip through the grill grate as they soften and shrink while they cook. Slicing lengthwise gave me nice long strips that were hard to lose to the hot coals below that are just waiting to steal my food. The second thing I wanted when cutting these was the correct thickness to each slice. A slice too thin will turn to mush on the grill, and a slice too thick will burn before cooked through. The perfect thickness seems to be around 1/3" - 1/2", which is the average medium squash sliced into thirds lengthwise.
Seasoning is the next thing I had to get right. Although a simple toss with olive oil, salt and pepper grills up a fine summer squash, I like to add a little more, which results in the truly delicious. Along with the standards of extra virgin olive oil and a hefty amount of salt and pepper, I like to add some dried oregano and crushed red pepper flakes. These little extras do not inhibit the flavors of the squash at all, if anything it brings them out more. In particular, I love the way the little bits of spicy peppers tastes against the soft, sweet squash, making it all the better.
Grilling squash couldn't be more straightforward, but at the same time tricky. My perfect grilled squash will be nicely browned, but not burnt, on the outside, with a soft, but not mushy, inside. Getting these results is merely an exercise in careful watching, meaning, don't leave the grill while they're cooking. Depending on how hot your fire is, it could take anywhere from 2-10 minutes to cook the squash on each side. I put my squash on shortly after the fire was completely lit, not at it's absolute hottest, but close. It took 4 minutes on each to get them caramelized and softened. I knew it was time to pull them off when they bent slightly when I lifted them from an end, but were not entirely limp.
In my haste, I popped one of these in my mouth soon after they came off the grill, right after their short photo shoot. I was left with a burnt tongue. Let these cool, please, just a few minutes, before trying to eat them. How you want to serve them is up to you. They're excellent cut up and tossed into some pasta for a pasta salad or pasta primavera of sorts. I had no problems simply eating the slices as is, one by one, each bite a taste of what heaven would be like if there were no meat. So yes, this isn't meat, but it is a delectable grilled treat worth gracing the pages of this here blog. I hope my Meatwave brethren will embrace the summer squash along with me as I instill my principles of grilling deliciousness for all alike.
Grilled Summer Squash
- Yield 4 servings
- Prep 5 Minutes
- Cook 5 Minutes
- Total 10 Minutes
- 3-4 medium green and/or yellow summer squash
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Wash and slice squash lengthwise into 1/3" - 1/2" slices, about 3 slices on a medium sized squash. Toss squash slices with the extra-virgin olive oil, oregano, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper to taste.
- Light 1 chimney of charcoal, and when lit, dump out evenly across the charcoal grate. Grill the squash slices directly over the hot coals until well browned on each side, about 2-5 minutes per side. Remove squash slices from grill when they bend when lifted from one end, but not limp.
- Allow to cool for a few minutes and then serve immediately.
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Justin Made these for dinner tonight -- they turned out great. Thanks for the recipe!