“Googootz `e solo un googootz,” lamented my Grandma regarding plain zucchini. She was an excellent cook. She was especially skilled in preparing any vegetable into a culinary masterpiece, no matter how vile a memory the name may evoke. Grandma’s Broccoli Rabe, Swiss Chard, Artichoke, Eggplant, and the like deserved a leading title.
I agreed with Grandma that zucchini pales compared to most vegetables. It is best as a filler in soups, sauces, and scrambled eggs. Seedy with delicate dark green skin, zucchini needs to be treated as if it had a noble taste, when in fact, it takes on any flavor of its accompaniment, thereby earning second billing. No one is excited to see cooked zucchini sitting alone without the infused company of onions, tomatoes, and/or potatoes.
It is now summer and zucchini are exploding out of the garden. The large leaves and sunny flowers are pretty, but when I fill two bowls with zucchini, I am not so enamored. Not every friend or neighbor appreciates a zucchini door prize. It is too hot to stand in a kitchen stir frying or, worse yet, blanching zucchini to freeze only to be forgotten in the freezer. Grilling is a better option. Here is how I do it.
1. Peel the skins if you are not a fan. Cut the body in half lengthwise. If you don’t care for the seeds, especially in overgrown zucchinis, scoop out them out with a spoon. You can slice the half again for the super thick zucchinis.
2. Sprinkle sea salt on both sides. Let the slices sweat on paper towels for at least 20 minutes.
3. Dab the slices dry with a clean paper towel. Brush both sides of the slices with olive oil. Add a little zip by stirring a few red pepper flakes into the oil and/or a few drops of balsamic vinegar. Fig infused balsamic vinegar is a TASTY option.
4. Arrange the zucchini slices on a hot vegetable grate that sits on the grill. Brush the top sides with oil. Close the grill cover. Do not leave it for too long since the delicate slices go from raw to burnt corpses within 5 seconds.
5. Turn the slices over. Reapply the oil. Close the grill cover. DO NOT walk away!
Grilled zucchini slices are fabulous as a side for your favorite grilled meats, poultry and fish and terrific cold on salads. I have also rolled them making a wonderful pop-in-your- mouth appetizer. The slices keep well in the refrigerator locked in a resealable bag or container. While it is generally true that “googootz `e solo un googootz”, grilled googootz can stand alone.