The Biggest Hit at the Party: Grilled Zucchini Salad with Mint & Red Chili

I just returned from a sizzling hot few days in the Midwest. Despite the heat, my family and friends relished delicious garden-to-table dinners under the moon's glow.

With my father's garden overflowing with vibrant veggies, there was no shortage of yummy, healthy eats. Many creative dishes were crafted, however, the biggest hit was simply zucchini tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper then grilled. Folks were eating it up like candy.

To whip up a quick BBQ side dish, just grill up some seasoned zucchini slices. If you want to take it up a notch, make this easy peasy recipe.


Grilled Zucchini Salad with Fresh Mint & Red Chili
This super simple, striking salad from Jamie Oliver always gets rave reviews and is a great way to enjoy an abundance of zucchini.

Health Benefits
A summer squash, zucchini is a good source of fiber, which lowers cholesterol, aids digestion, prevents constipation and maintains low blood sugar. It is also rich in Vitamins A and C, both disease-fighting antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents. High in potassium and magnesium, it can help lower blood pressure and prevent heart disease and stroke.

Selecting
When selecting, look for zucchini that is heavy for its size and has shiny, unblemished skin. Very hard squash indicates it’s over-mature and will have hard seeds and stringy flesh.

Pick zucchini that is average size. Overly large squashes may be fibrous, while small ones may lack flavor.

Storing
Store unwashed in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to a week (the sooner you eat, the better).

Recipe
This is quite an unusual salad and terribly simple to make. It's great because it's a nice little side dish that will go with things like mozzarella, goat's cheese, cured meats, grilled or barbecued white fish like cod or haddock, even things like chicken or pork.

Ingredients:

  • 4 zucchini
  • 1 red chili, de-seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 small clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • Handful of fresh mint leaves
  • 1 lemon
  • 1-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions:

  1. Slice zucchini lengthwise as thin as you can (use a mandolin if you have one).
     
  2. Grill on a red-hot griddle pan, or on the barbecue, until lightly charred on each side. 
     
  3. Scatter the slices over a large plate, making sure you don't sit them on top of each other otherwise they'll steam and go a bit limp.
     
  4. While the zucchini is still warm, sprinkle with a little sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
     
  5. Sprinkle the chili and garlic evenly from a height over the zucchini. (Add to your own taste, but just remember that when the chili and garlic mix with the olive oil and lemon juice the heat and flavors are lessened.)
     
  6. Sprinkle with fresh mint leaves and drizzle with good extra-virgin olive oil and a squeeze of lemon.

Dive in!

Source: Adapted from Jamie Oliver's Happy Days with the Naked Chef
 

Indian-Spiced Golden Split Pea & Winter Squash Soup

This hearty soup features high-fiber split peas, vitamin-rich squash, and garam masala, a sweet, aromatic blend of spices with the warm exotic flavors essential to Indian cooking. Enjoy with a green salad or sautéed greens and a crusty hunk of fresh whole-grain bread for an easy weeknight dinner.

If you want to make the soup ahead and reheat it, undercook the squash slightly so it won't be overcooked when the soup is reheated.

Yields: Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, minced
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno chili, seeded and minced
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala (Indian spice blend)
  • 2 cups yellow split peas
  • 8 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock (or 4 cups canned low-sodium broth mixed with 4 cups water)
  • 2 1/2 cups peeled orange-fleshed winter squash, such as butternut or kabocha, in 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro, or more to taste
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Fresh lemon
  • Plain yogurt (optional)


    Instructions:

    1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over moderate heat
       
    2. Add the onion, garlic and chili and sauté until the onion is soft and beginning to color, about 10 minutes
       
    3. Add the garam masala and cook, stirring, for a minute or two to toast it, then add the split peas and the stock
       
    4. Bring to a simmer, cover partially and adjust the heat to maintain a simmer
       
    5. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the split peas are just tender, about 45 minutes
       
    6. Add the squash and the tomatoes with their juice
       
    7. Simmer gently, partly covered, until the squash is tender, about 15 minutes
       
    8. Season with salt and pepper
       
    9. Top each serving with cilantro and a dollop of yogurt, and serve with a lemon wedge

    Note: I prefer kabocha squash for its richer, sweeter flavor. I also like to mix a pinch or two of garam masala or ground cumin and coriander into the yogurt before serving.


    Adapted from the San Francisco Chronicle

    Sweet Potato “Fries” – Two Ways

    Swap greasy French fries for these nutrient-rich, super satisfying sweet potato fries.

    Sweet potatoes are loaded with Vitamins A and C (calm inflammation, boost immunity) and are a good source of potassium (helps prevent heart disease and muscle cramps) and fiber (promotes healthy digestion). They also help regulate blood sugar. Eat with skin on for maximum nutrients.

    Choose sweet potatoes that are firm and do not have any cracks, bruises or soft spots. Avoid those that are displayed in the refrigerated section since cold temperature negatively alters their taste.

    Store in a cool, dark and well-ventilated place, where they will keep fresh for up to 10 days. Do not keep in the refrigerator.


    Indian-Spiced Sweet Potato Fries

    Ingredients:

    • 2 (8 oz) sweet potatoes
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
    • 1/8 teaspoon pepper

    Instructions:

    1. Preheat oven to 425°
    2. Mix the spices together in a small bowl
    3. Cut potatoes lengthwise into 1-inch wedges, or into 1/4” rounds
    4. Toss potatoes with oil and spices in a large bowl
    5. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet or roasting pan (may need to use two pans)
    6. Roast for 20 minutes, flip over and roast for about another 10-20 minutes until tender and slightly golden


    Spicy Sweet Potatoes Fries

    Ingredients:

    • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
    • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
    • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
    • 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes (depending upon how spicy you want them)
    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 2 pounds sweet potatoes
    • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

    Instructions:

    1. Preheat oven to 425°
    2. Coarsely grind all the spices except the salt using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle
    3. Stir in the salt
    4. Cut potatoes lengthwise into 1-inch wedges, or into 1/4” rounds
    5. Toss potatoes with oil and spices in a large bowl
    6. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet or roasting pan (may need to use two pans)
    7. Roast for 20 minutes, flip over and roast for about another 15-20 minutes until tender and slightly golden

    Dive in!