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Friday, April 4, 2014

Grilled Zucchini Salad with Sea Salt and Lemon Zest

Grilled Zucchini Salad with Sea Salt and Lemon Zest
Who's ready to break out their grill? Oh wait, you never put it away? Me neither. Well, to be fair, we roll ours into the garage for storage once it's cool (I don't have a patio), so it's "put away", but never out of commission. I've been known to grill in the middle of winter with the snow falling all around me. It's a pretty awesome experience, actually. If you've never done it, I recommend trying it at least once. The heat from the grill creates a little bubble of warmth in the midst of all the white. You may just decide to grill all winter long.

That being said, I grew up around the grill. Summer meant parties and cook-outs.  I can't remember there ever being a grill-master in our midst, everybody just took turns. Now, that being said, I didn't really even realize that there was such an art to grilling until I was an adult. Our kind of grilling was always lighting the charcoal, waiting for it to turn gray, and then throwing our food on.

For the most part, that's still how I do it today. But I now understand and admire the skill and dedication it takes to be a true master of the grill. So, when I had the chance to be part of the blog tour to introduce Grill To Perfection by Andy Husbands, Chris Hart, and Andrea Pyenson, I jumped at the chance. The blue ribbon on the front cover says everything: "35 Time Kansas City BBQ Society Grand Champions". Nice.

This was my chance to delve a little further into the world of, shall we call it, "technique grilling". So, of course, I started with what is probably the simplest recipe in the book. It involved grilling zucchini, which due to my love of grilled veggie sandwiches and salads, I already do quite often anyway. But I had to start somewhere.
Grilled Zucchini Salad with Sea Salt and Lemon Zest
Normally, I wouldn't light the coals for a vegetable that spends 6 minutes at most on the grill. It seems like such a waste to me. So, I recommend either making a huge batch of this (for party or cook-out) or making more than just the salad once the coals are hot. Yes, I'm that girl. If I'm done cooking everything that I had planned and the coals are still hot, I rummage through the fridge and pantry looking for things that I can throw some grill marks on. Waste not, want not.

That said, this salad is delicious. It tastes like sunshines and good times. I do think that I found a misprint in the recipe, though. In the book, it calls for the juice of 2 lemons. But I am pretty sure that it's supposed to read the "zest of 2 lemons". Lemon zest is actually in the title of the recipe, afterall. If I'd been thinking straight I would have paid more attention the first time I made this. I'd squeezed the juice of 1 lemon over the zucchini before I started thinking that it couldn't be right. All that juice just obliterating the lovely texture and flavor I'd just worked so hard to achieve.

So, I went out for more zucchini and tried it again. I didn't add any juice this time. The zest adding the perfect amount of bright zing. So, if your copy says juice instead of zest, I'd make yourself a note!

All-around, the book is filled with beautiful photos and recipes from the grill that would make a welcome addition to any cook's (indoor or outdoor) shelf.

Grilled Zucchini Salad with Sea Salt and Lemon Zest
An easy zucchini side dish with almond and fresh herbs accents that is made on the grill.
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Grilled Zucchini Salad with Sea Salt and Lemon Zest
by Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 4-6 minutes
Keywords: grill side salad vegetarian sugar-free almonds herbs lemons zucchini Labor Day July 4th summer

Ingredients (serves 4, as a side dish)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium zucchini, ends removed and sliced 1/2" thick lengthwise
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • finely grated zest of 2 lemons
  • 2 tablespoons (20 g) slivered almonds, toasted
  • 2 tablespoons (10 g) roughly chopped parsley
  • 5 basil leaves, cut into a chiffonade
  • 4 mint leaves, cut into a chiffonade
  • 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
  • coarse sea salt, for serving
Build a medium direct fire. Spread an even layer of unlit charcoal in the bottom of the grill. Fill a chimney halfway with charcoal. Stuff two sheets of newspaper in the bottom of the chimney and light it. When the coals are fully engaged - you should see flames peeking over the top - pour them over the unlit charcoal. If using a gas grill, light the gas and adjust the temperature on both sides to medium.

Lighty oil the zucchini and season with salt and pepper.

When you can hold your hands over the fire for no more than 5-8 seconds, clean the grill grate. Place the zucchini on the grill and cook for 2-3 minutes. Flip and cook for another 2-3 minutes, until golden brown and the zucchini is firm but you can bend it with tongs. Remove from the heat and place on a cutting board.

Slice the zucchini crosswise about 1/4" thick and place in a bowl. Add the remaining ingredients to the zucchini and toss very gently to combine. Sprinkle sea salt over the salad and serve immediately or at room temperature.

Recipe slightly adapted from Grill To Perfection by Husbands, Hart & Pyenson (Page Street Publishing; April 2014). Used with permission. 

Grill To Perfection
authors: Andy Husbands, Chris Hart, and Andrea Pyenson
publisher: Page Street Publishing Co.
soft cover: 192 pages

photos: yes, including a couple of great pictorials on trussing a lamb leg and deconstructing a turkey.

chapters/sections: Sear It: Hot Direct Grilling | Roasting For Flavor: Medium Direct Grilling | Avoid The Burn: Low Direct Grilling | Grilling Two Ways: Hybrid Two-Zone Grilling | Grill It Low And Slow: Two-Zone Grilling

fun features: This cookbook has a great introduction to familiarize you with a few things that will help you get comfortable around the grill. You'll find a section on Grills, Charcoal, Grilling Tools, Safety, Lighting and Cleaning the Grill, and Cooking Methods. They point out that successful grilling is all about technique, and their aim to help you find yours.

(a few of the many) recipes destined for my kitchen: Grilled King Salmon with English Peas and Mint | Honey-Grilled Hot Pepper Jelly | Slow-Grilled Chicken Thighs with Alabama White Sauce | Grilled Trout Stuffed with Fresh Herb Salad | Smoky Spicy Lamb Chorizo | Elvis's Grilled Banana Split | Chocolate Sea Salt Butter

about the authors:
     Andy Husbands is the award-winning chef/owner of Tremont 647 and a James Beard "Best Chef" semi-finalist. Husbands is also a member of the award-winning barbecue team, iQUE.

     Chris Hart is the 2009 winner of the Jack Daniel's Invitational World Championship Barbecue competition and a fellow member of iQUE. Chris cooked barbecue at the James Beard House in New York Cit and is the only competitor to be invited back to "the Jack" twelve years in a row.

     Andrea Pyenson has been writing about food and travel for more than a decade. Her work has appeared in various publications, including the Boston Globe, Edible Boston, and the Washington Post.

recipe I have already tried: Grilled Zucchini Salad with Sea Salt and Lemon Zest

So tell me, are you a "technique griller" or a "heat it up and throw it on" griller? Do you grill in the snow? What are your favorite dishes to make on the grill?

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. All thoughts stated in this post are my own. This post contain an Amazon affiliate link.