I mentioned last week that I have been inundated with zucchini. Well, it’s still true. It’s that time of year, after all!
Yesterday, we had a heat advisory. It was 80+ degrees mid-morning, up to the mid 90s when I got home from work around 2 pm, and 108 by dinner time. We had picked up take out the night before and we’re planning a movie night for tonight (theaters have air conditioning!), so didn’t want to spend the money to go out three nights in a row. There was absolutely no way I was going to turn on the stove or oven, and a salad just wasn’t going to cut it. So, I decided to grill out.
I had found this recipe earlier in the week, when a friend linked to a recipe for zucchini pickles on Facebook. Recipes are one of those rabbit hole things for me– I click one, then keep clicking on “related posts” until I can’t remember why I’m watching Food Network trailers and missing my dad’s tap dancing around the kitchen as he drinks wine and cooks dinner. My dad is one of the best cooks I know, and I attribute any talent I have for flavor to him.
Actually, it just occurred to me that this recipe is one my dad would love. I should send it to him.
Anyway, I’ve seen several variations on this recipe, so I’m sharing the one I used but I did make some modifications.
First of all, I doubled it. I used 3 medium-large summer squash– I think only one was technically a zucchini, but I use them interchangeably. I think this would work equally well with crookneck, or patty pan, or any squash that has a texture similar to zucchini. I wouldn’t use any that were particularly large or seedy, for textural and structural reasons. You don’t want it to fall apart on the grill, after all.
Another mod I made is that I used Champagne vinegar. I did this partially because it’s just what I had on hand, but it also sounded like it would complement the mint without overpowering it, which I was worried the red wine vinegar would. I minced the mint quite finely, and whisked the dressing together with a fork. I cut the squash lengthwise for ease of grilling– in thirds as I was worried halves would be too thick for the grill. This turned out to be the perfect thickness, about a half inch per slice. I poured about half or two thirds of the vinaigrette over the raw squash, and then tossed them on the grill. When I flipped them, I basted them with the remainder of the vinaigrette. I didn’t want to leave any raw, because I thought the raw garlic would be too overwhelming.
The final mod I made to this recipe was that I used a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes instead of fresh chili. This, again, was because I had it to hand, but one of the other versions of the recipe used crushed red pepper instead of the fresh called for here, so it seemed like a safe choice. To be honest, I couldn’t taste the chili much. I think it might have been a nice foil to the mint if it had been more assertive in the dish, but I could also see skipping it altogether. The mint and the vinegar are a really nice pair here, and the other flavors seem more for complexity than anything.
Now, I love anything grilled, especially veggies, but this was truly a joy to eat. I paired it with a veggie burger (chicken drumsticks for Rachel), grilled Walla Walla onion dressed only in olive oil and salt, and grilled tomatoes. We got these lovely Bonita Ojo tomatoes in our CSA this week, and they’re the perfect size for grilling whole. Larger than cherry tomatoes, smaller than a regular slicer, they’re perfectly round and delicious with just a touch of salt.
Although I spent the evening vacillating between wrangling the kiddo and standing in 108 degree heat over an even hotter grill, it was the perfect dinner. I paired mine with a bottle of Pelican Pub & Brewery Kiwanda Cream Ale, and Rachel had Ninkasi Lux Helles style lager. Our friends came over later and we chilled — somewhat literally, though mostly relatively since it was still in the 90s by that time– and drank beer and had an overall nice evening. We also had an exciting conversation, but that’s a story for another post…