This recipe for grilled summer squash with pistou is a recent hit in our home. Usually, by this point in the summer I’m complaining about zucchini and summer squash taking over my garden, secretly slipping my excess veggies into girlfriends’ handbags as they say goodbye. These drought conditions and wacky weather have left my hands and those handbags empty. Unlike its summer sister, the tomato, zucchini needs damp soil to thrive. We all know that isn’t happening.
I’m not sure I want to think too deeply about the psychological undercurrent here, but not having zucchini has been making me have-to-have-it. I’ve been actually been buying summer squash at the farmers market (a first since I started my garden ten years back). I couldn’t resist the gorgeous sunburst squash, “Starship.” Feel free to use any zucchini or squash you have on hand — I did a mix of zucchini with the sunburst.
What takes this recipe up a notch is the addition of pistou to the grilled veggies. This Provençal classic has now become my kids’ favorite sauce since our trip to France. Basil is a winning “gateway green” to expand your kid’s taste buds. This pistou has become a dinnertime workhorse — tossed with pasta and grains, a dollop added to soups, served with crusty bread and obviously, with this grilled zucchini.
Grilled Summer Squash with Pistou
Note: For the pistou, if you don’t have a small food processor you can chop everything finely with a sharp knife or you can mash it with a mortar and pestle in the traditional manner (you earn a gold star for that one). If you want that gorgeous green color to last do a ten second blanch in boiling water for the basil, quickly submerging it into an ice bath.
4 Italian zucchini or 6 large sunburst squash
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ tsp kosher salt
½ cup basil leaves, packed, plus a few leaves for garnish
¼ cup grated Parmesan, plus more for garnish
2 cloves garlic (if your garlic is on the more pungent side, start with one clove and add as needed)
1/4 cup olive oil
Pinch of salt
Pinch of red chile flakes (optional)
Make your pistou: Combine the basil, cheese and garlic in the bowl of a small food processor and pulse until minced. Add the olive oil, salt and red pepper flakes (if using). Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.
For your zucchini/squash: Fire up the grill to medium-high. Slice the squash in pieces large enough so they won’t fall through the grill grate. Here, I cut the small squash into wedges and the zucchini was sliced on the bias for long oval pieces. Toss the squash with ½ tsp salt and 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil.
When the grill is nice and hot, lay the cut pieces on the grill. Cook for 2-3 minutes and then turn them 90 degrees— this creates those hash marks. You’re going for a dark golden brown to create that super sweetness. Cook for 2-3 more minutes and flip to the other side and repeat. Once the pieces are cooked thoroughly on both sides remove them to a bowl.
Add 1 tablespoon of the pistou and carefully toss into the cooked squash to coat. (This recipe makes about three tablespoons, so you’ll have some leftover to put to good use.) Sprinkle with grated Parmesan and garnish with few basil leaves. Serve.