Friday, July 10, 2009

Summer Sides: Grilled Squash and Polenta

Here are a couple of side dishes that I like to serve when cooking on the grill. Both are wickedly easy, go with just about any grilled dish, and both share the same core ingredients: salt, pepper and olive oil.I prefer using sea salt. It's much better than regular table salt, and doesn't pack quite the punch as kosher salt.

First up are yellow squash and zucchini. I usually use on of each for two servings. Just slice the zucchini and squash into thin slices, but not too thin - you want them to hold together while cooking. Place the slices in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil, add salt and pepper, and stir. Cook them over medium heat for about 5-7 minutes, until they start to get brown and slightly crispy. Flip the chips and cook for another 3-4 minutes. They go great as a side or even as a sandwich topper. I suggest using some sort of grilling tray or even some foil to keep the chips from falling through the grates. They're very inexpensive and easy to find, usually available in any grocery store or even a Dollar Store . You can cook directly on the grates, but expect at least one or two casualties to fall through.

The second side dish that I grill up regularly is polenta. Polenta is an old world dish made of cornmeal and served several ways. I've had it both as a soft dish similar to mashed potatoes and baked like a cornbread. While it is often considered a peasant food, often used back during the depression, it has recently become somewhat of a delicacy. It' not uncommon that you'll find it as a pricey appetizer at some of your fancier restaurants. A friend of mine once saw it on a menu for $14.95 and said to me "do you know how many tons of polenta my mother could make for $14.95?!?!" What I like to use is the pre-cooked tubes of polenta, which can be found in the produce section of the grocery store. I simply slice them into about 1/4" slices, brush both sides with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Again, just place them on the grill at medium hear for about 5-7 minutes until they start to get slightly brown and crispy, flip and cook for another 3-4 minutes. I like to top them with a slice of mozzarella or sharp provolone for the last few minutes, then serve them with either a side of sauce or salsa as a topping. They are absolutely delicious, and you can even pass them off as mini pizza crisps for the kids!

1 comment:

Rashiggity said...

I love polenta, great suggestion! I use the pre-made type as well and I like to make a balsamic redux for mine.