In my garden, there is one abundant summer vegetable that brings out the worst in me, makes me think and do the most despicable things. I find myself handing it out ferociously on street corners, skulking through neighborhoods leaving a box or two on porch steps of good unsuspecting folk, hocking baked goods at children for pennies…er, quarters. I brake for convertibles with their tops down, homeless with grocery carts, and bicycles with baskets.
Golden or green, doesn’t matter; summer squash creates summer madness. So, I created this easy recipe to pull together in 20 minutes while grilling shrimp, chicken or hamburgers. This is to be eaten carefree- summer-solstice style with the tomatoes being squashed, their juices partying with the vinaigrette, the pepitas and corn kernels mixing and mingling, and the squash and Manchego, tango into one brilliant bite. Enjoy.
Total time: 20 minutes
4 lbs. summer squash, a variety is lovely; like green and golden zucchini, crookneck and sunburst squash
3-4 ears of corn, husked
1 large purple pepper, cut into skewer-able chunks
5-6 medium sized tomatoes (optional if you don’t like the texture of cooked tomatoes)
2 Tablespoons oil
½ cup pepitas, green pumpkin seeds; bka: “little seed of squash”
1 teaspoon butter
Wedge of Manchego cheese, a buttery, salty sheep’s milk cheese- substitute with Parmigiano Reggiano
Salt and pepper to taste
Makes ½ cup
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Juice of 2 limes, about 4 Tablespoons
1 teaspoon ground cumin, you may need more, adjust to the intensity of your spice
1 garlic clove of good size, minced
2 teaspoons of minced shallot
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ cup oil + 2 Tablespoons, I prefer grapeseed oil or a light olive oil
Let’s start by making the cumin- lime vinaigrette. In a mason jar combine the vinegar, lime juice, cumin, minced garlic and shallot, salt and pepper. Give it a good shake. Then add the oil of your choosing (just make sure it’s a mildly flavored oil so it doesn’t overpower your dish). Give the mixture another good shake. Now unscrew the lid and taste it, you’ll know you’ve got it just right when the vinaigrette tastes bright and complex from the lime juice and vinegar, smoky and pleasantly pungent from the cumin, shallots, garlic, and pepper, balanced from the salt and oil. Think: refreshing with a smoky current.
Adjust if need be and then set it aside to meld together. This dressing can be made 3 -4 days in advance and preserved in the fridge.
In a small fry pan over medium heat, toast the peppy pepitas in a teaspoon of butter and a sprinkle with salt. Set aside until ready to garnish.
Preheat your grill to medium heat and lightly oil the grates as added insurance so the vegetables won’t stick.
Wash and slice your squash into ½ inch discs. I varied the shape by cutting some on an angle and others in circles to create a visually interesting salad, but keep the thickness the same so they all cook evenly. Cut the purple pepper in to good sized chunks to be skewered before grilling. Place the squash, peppers, and tomatoes in a bowl, lightly coat them with oil and sprinkle with salt. Husk the corn, lightly rub with oil, sprinkle with salt and a little cumin for good measure.
Place the vegetables on the grill when it’s hot and ready (only medium-hot, mind you.) turn them occasionally until slightly softened, lightly browned and randomly charred in spots. The squash will take 3-4 minutes the tomatoes 5, and the corn 6-8 minutes.
Bring it all together by placing grilled squash and blistered tomatoes in a beautiful, shallow serving bowl. Slice off kernels of corn onto the squash, drizzle with the cumin- lime vinaigrette, scatter the toasted pepitas and carve wonky slices of Manchego cheese with a vegetable peeler over the top of the salad. Give a final dash of salt, freshly ground black pepper, and if you feel so inclined a wild spritz of lime.