Lemony Grilled Summer Squash

This is a quick and simple preparation that adds pizzazz to a vegetable that many see as pretty bland. Although marinating is something that is normally associated with meat, many vegetables benefit from marinating as well. Using salt here would result in flabby vegetables, so do not salt until just before grilling.

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 pounds summer squash, halved lengthwise
1-2 cloves garlic, peeled
1-2 lemons, juiced (about 1-2 tablespoons is good)
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh marjoram, oregano, mint, or rosemary, chopped
Olive oil as needed (about 1-3 tablespoons)
Salt and pepper to taste

METHOD:

Rub a large non-reactive bowl with the garlic cloves, pushing hard enough to break down the garlic and leave a residue in the bowl.

Using a short, sharp, thin bladed knife, make cuts on the surface of the slice. The cuts should be about 1/4 inch apart, at 45° angles from the edges, going in both directions so a diamond pattern is formed. Try to make the cuts deep enough so they get the mid-point of the vegetable without casing the vegetable to fall apart. (Ideally the cuts are shallow at the edges and deeper in the center. This takes a little practice sometimes but is a good technique to have.)

Once the vegetables are scored, toss them in a large non-reactive bowl and add the lemon juice. Toss to cover all the surfaces with the juice. Gently bend the squash so the scores gape a little and dunk the cut surfaces in the juice. Scatter with the herbs and pepper, tossing to evenly coat the squash.

Allow to marinate 10 minutes or more.

Pour enough oil over the squash to lightly coat the surfaces of the squash. Allow to marinate a while longer.

Heat a grill. When hot, sprinkle salt lightly over the squash, and grill the squash cut side down first. Cook until well marked-there grill lines should be well defined and the surface between the lines should be turning golden and showing a little surface bubbling. Turn the squash over.

Cook the squash just enough to heat through and soften a little bit. The squash should no longer be crunchy, but do not cook it so that it is soft all the way through.

Remove from the grill and serve. If you wish, squeeze a little fresh lemon juice over the squash just before serving.

CHEF NOTES AND VARIATIONS:

  • This squash is good as is, but feel free to add a dollop of tapenade or salsa verde.
  • Leftovers are great in eggs or added to a pasta dish. I have sliced it thinly and put it into a sandwich with tomato, sprouts, and cheese after smearing the roll with tapenade and sweet-hot mustard.
  • Use coriander seed, cumin, and cilantro and add a little lime juice for a south of the border touch.
  • Use orange juice with a little lemon (Meyer lemon works best here) with mint and cilantro and marjoram.

YIELD: Serves 4