Like many Greeks, we are a gardening family. In our experience, it is rare to find a Greek who has access to even a little bit of land, who doesn’t then use it to plant some sort of vegetable or herb. Even when all that is available is a balcony, eggplants and tomatoes find themselves growing in pots, next to the basil. Gardening is a lovely heritage, and although our parents are the master green thumbs, we do pretty well ourselves; we had wonderful mentors after all.
One of the things that we learned quickly is that zucchini grows easily where we live (and cucumbers do not). Each year we plant a few zucchini seedlings and step back to marvel at the mess of plant which seems to mass produce summer squash almost overnight. And overnight, we often find ourselves with an overwhelming pile of zucchini. Good problems to have.
There are so many ways to enjoy this summer bounty, including frying up some zucchini chips, making yemista, or slicing up raw zucchini and using it to scoop up some fava. Otherwise, on days when meat might be on the menu, we grill zucchini, which has been marinated in a rich vinaigrette, for a perfect accompaniment to grilled rack of lamb or souvlaki. In fact, this grilled zucchini is so good, that it can easily be the sole reason for firing up the grill, particularly on days when you are fasting or otherwise choosing to go meatless.
Garden zucchini, when you can find it, is ideal for this dish. First, fresh produce is always best, and second, in our experience, home grown zucchini is often larger than that which you find in the grocery store. Large zucchini makes it much easier to prepare good sized pieces of vegetable to marinate and then grill.
Depending upon the size of your summer squash, you can choose to either cut your zucchini into rounds, or, as we usually prefer, cut through the circumference of the zucchini so that you end up with halves or thirds. Then, take each portion, stand it upright, and slice through it to end up with 1/4 inch thick slices. Although you can make your slices thicker if you like, we don’t recommend making them thinner; the marinade and grilling may cause too thin pieces to practically disintegrate.
Slicing and cutting your zucchini is not an exact science; some pieces of zucchini will be thicker and larger than others…it does not matter. Remember, this is a vegetable…you don’t have to worry about undercooking it.
Summer squash can have either yellow or green skin; all varieties of zucchini will work well in this recipe.
This grilled zucchini is fantastic as a side to other grilled goods, but it also, totally, stands on itsown merit. When you go through the trouble (it’s really no trouble!) of making this recipe, make a lot of it. Grilled zucchini is amazing added to salads, as a filling for sandwiches (try a thick crusty baguette layered with hummus, avocado and grilled zucchini…you won’t regret it!), as part of an hors d’oeuvre or antipasto platter, or simply eaten as a midnight snack.
Mia Kouppa: Grilled zucchini
- 1 large or 2 medium sized zucchini
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) Greek olive oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons (22.5 ml) balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon (2 ml) salt
- 1 teaspoon (4 ml) Italian seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon (2 ml) dried Greek oregano
- Wash and prepare your zucchini (do not peel it). Cut your zucchini either into 1/4 inch thick rounds, or cut the entire zucchini into halves or thirds (depending on how large it is). Take these portions and slice them into 1/4 inch thick pieces. Place in a large bowl and set aside.
- In a small bowl whisk together the remaining ingredients. When well combined, pour over the zucchini. Using your hands, gently toss the zucchini in the marinade to ensure that all pieces get coated well, on both sides. Allow the zucchini to marinate for at least 30 minutes, or several hours.
- Prepare your grill. Place your zucchini over medium heat and cook for approximately 5 minutes per side. Reserve any marinade remaining in the bowl.
- The cooking time will depend upon several things, including the level of heat, the exact thickness of your zucchini, and how you prefer to eat the grilled veggies. When the zucchini is done to your liking, remove from heat. If you like, pour some of the leftover marinade over the grilled zucchini. Enjoy.