Friday, July 11, 2008

Finally, a photo, and some thoughts on squash

I think I forgot to sing the praises of those cucumbers (in the foreground) in the original Week 6 post. Haven't tried them yet, but they look lovely.

On to the squash, which I think (and I have no evidence to support this) is the number one subject of complaint about summer (over)abundance.

Two thoughts, both Asian in flavors, both delicious.

First, on the grill. This is a great accompaniment to grilled chicken or steak, adapted from the grilling bible. Slice the squash lengthwise into planks 3/8 inch thick. Brush each slice with neutral (canola, grapeseed or peanut) oil into which you've stirred 2 cloves of garlic, minced, and a pinch each of good saltand pepper. Brush both sides, and leave to sit for a few minutes. Then make a sweet miso glaze: 7 T sugar, 1/4 c white miso, 3 T mirin (sweet rice wine, and 2-3 T water, all stirred together. Grill the squash 6-8 minutes turning once, over a medium hot fire. You should have nice dark grill marks. Then brush the with the glaze, and grill one more minute on each side. Good hot, lukewarm or cold. This recipe is actually for eggplant, not squash, but both are fantastic with this preparation--it has been known to convert eggplant haters.

Second--make a Thai style curry. This is from Mark Bittman's newish How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, a book I just bought and am loving. Easy, easy. Heat 3 T neutral oil (canola, peanut, grapeseed) in a skillet and add one thinly sliced onion. Cook over medium heat until the onion is softened, about five minutes. If it browns a bit, that's ok . Add 2 T chopped garlic, the grated zest of one lime (do you and your kitchen a favor, and buy a microplane graterfor this task!) and 2 dried chiles. Add about 5 cups chopped zucchini or summer squash--I used two small zucchini, a summer squash and a couple of pattypans, and cut them into chunks about 3/4-1 inch on a side. You don't want the pieces too small. Continue to cook the squash until it's softened and a bit caramelized, ten or fifteen minutes--don't let it burn. Add one can of light coconut milk, 3 T Thai fish sauce and 1 T chili paste, or to taste (I like spice, a lot, and for this, I use Sambal Oelek, an Indonesian hot sauce, available around here at Guido's. If you're a chile-phobe, you could leave out both the dried and the paste, and still have something eminently worth eating. However, if you do omit the spice, you might want to squeeze in some lime juice just before serving to brighten the flavors a bit.) Cook until the sauce has thickened down some--about ten minutes--and serve hot over rice. Again, this is a recipe written for eggplant, but divine with a mix of squashes.

Next up--Tex Mex. Stay tuned.

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