Eggplant and Summer Squash Stacks

Summer is not over yet, and I’m not ready to say goodbye to some of my favorite seasonal produce. If you are like me and want to savor these flavors as long as you can, fire up the grill and celebrate these last couple of weeks before we welcome fall. Eggplant is a great match for summer squash stacked between layers of melted fresh mozzarella and homemade pesto. Enjoy as an appetizer or pair with a simple salad and a glass of your favorite white wine for an easy dinner outdoors as you watch the sunset.

Ingredients:
toothpicks
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 small eggplants, cut crosswise into ¼ inch slices
2 medium summer squash, cut crosswise into ¼ inch slices
2 tablespoons pesto
4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced into about 20 pieces

Directions:

  1. Soak toothpicks in a small bowl of water to prevent scorching when grilling.
  2. In a small bowl, add garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper. Whisk to combine, creating a grilling sauce for the produce.
  3. Arrange eggplant and squash on a large plate or platter and brush both sides evenly with the grilling sauce.
  4. Preheat a gas or charcoal grill to medium-high heat. Grill vegetables until golden brown and cooked through, about 4 to 5 minutes per side. Remove from grill and move produce to a working surface.
  5. Remove toothpicks from water and set aside. Create eggplant and summer squash stacks by spreading a thin layer of pesto on a slice of eggplant and topping with a slice of summer squash and mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers and top with an extra squash or eggplant slice, then secure each stack with a toothpick. You should end up with about 10.
  6. Place eggplant and summer squash stacks back on the grill at medium-high heat for a couple of minutes, until cheese melts. Remove from grill and serve.

Grilled Squash Blossom and Roasted Garlic Pizza

Edible flowers? Yes, please! Squash blossoms are, as you guessed it, flowers from squash plants. These delicate flowers have a light and crisp flavor with a subtle taste of summer squash. While they can simply be used as garnish, they make a delicious and beautiful addition to your meal. You don’t need decorations on your plate when your meal is this colorful. Roasted garlic adds a sweet and mellow garlic taste that compliments mildly sweet dollops of ricotta cheese and roasted summer vegetables.

Ingredients:
1 medium head garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 small zucchini, sliced
½ cup cherry tomatoes
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 homemade or store-bought pizza dough ball (about the size of a grapefruit)
8 squash blossoms, stems and stamens removed
⅓ cup part-skim Ricotta cheese
⅓ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
8 to 10 basil leaves, sliced into thin ribbons

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Slice off the top of the garlic head, so you can see the tops of the cloves, and place on a sheet of aluminum foil. Drizzle the garlic head with ½ tablespoon olive oil and wrap tightly in the foil. Roast for about 30 minutes, until cloves are tender. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
  2. Pace zucchini and cherry tomatoes on a medium backing sheet. Drizzle ½ tablespoon olive oil over the vegetables and season with salt and pepper. Toss to evenly coat. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, until lightly browned and tender.
  3. Roll and stretch pizza dough to a thin layer, about ⅛ inch thick and 12 to 14 inches in diameter. Prepare the grill for medium-high, indirect heat. For a gas grill, leave one or two burners off and for a charcoal grill, place coals on one side and use the coal free side.
  4. Place crust on the grill (a pizza peel is handy here) and cook for about five minutes, until top of crust starts to bubble and light brown grill marks appear on the bottom. Remove crust from grill.
  5. Separate cloves from garlic head. Top cooked side of crust with roasted garlic and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Spread with a knife or spatula to evenly distribute oil and spread soft garlic cloves into the crust like butter.
  6. Add zucchini, tomatoes, squash blossoms and dollops of Ricotta evenly around the pizza crust. Sprinkle with mozzarella and return pizza to the grill.
  7. Cook for about five minutes, until cheese has melted, squash blossoms have slightly wilted, and the bottom of the crust has light brown grill marks. Remove from grill and top with fresh basil before serving.

Servings: 4

Grilled Pineapple, Ham and Arugula Pizza

This pizza is the perfect use for leftover ham, and if you smoke your ham it is even better. The combination of salty ham with caramelized pineapple from the grill and spicy arugula is a new take on this Hawaiian classic. Grilling the thin pizza dough creates a crispy crust that is similar to a flatbread.

This is a great pizza to serve family or friends on a spring or summer patio night. For a real island experience while entertaining, welcome guests with an Aloha and a Mai Tai.

Ingredients:
½ fresh pineapple, peeled, cored and sliced into 2 large pieces
1 homemade or store-bought pizza dough ball, about the size of a grapefruit
3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 cup leftover ham, diced
¼ cup ricotta cheese
½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 cups arugula

Directions:

  1. Prepare the grill for medium-high, indirect heat. For a gas grill, leave one or two burners off and for a charcoal grill, place coals on one side and use the coal free side.
  2. Brush pineapple with 1 teaspoon olive oil on all sides. Grill directly over burner or charcoal until light brown grill marks appear, about 4 or 5 minutes per side. Remove from grill and dice after pineapple is cool enough to handle.
  3. Roll or stretch (I do a combination) the pizza dough to a thin layer, about ⅛ inch thick and 12 to 14 inches in diameter.
  4. Place crust on the grill over indirect heat (a pizza peel comes handy here) and cook for about five minutes, until top of crust starts to bubble and light brown grill marks appear on the bottom of the crust.
  5. Remove crust from grill. Top cooked side of crust with remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil, spreading evenly. Add ham and pineapple in an even layer. Add dollops of ricotta and sprinkle shredded mozzarella.
  6. Return pizza to the grill and cook for about five minutes, until mozzarella cheese has melted and bottom of crust has light brown grill marks. Remove from grill, top with arugula, slice into 8 wedges and serve.

Servings: 4 ~ Serving size: 2 slices

 

Grilled Tilapia and Field Pea Succotash

Growing up in the south, field peas were a staple in our house and they will always be one of my favorite vegetables. This dish brings back childhood memories of family potlucks with tables full of farm-fresh vegetables for supper and homemade pies for dessert. We might have had fried catfish with our field peas back then, but I’ve lighted things up with my Grilled Tilapia and Field Pea Succotash recipe.

This meal is so simple to prepare and makes a fast weeknight meal that’s worthy of company if you prepare your field peas the day before. This succotash also pairs well with scallops, shrimp or any white fish of choice.

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 cups cooked field peas, drained
1 cup frozen corn
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
4 (6 ounce) tilapia fillets
1 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning

Directions:
  

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, add onion and sauté until translucent and fragrant. Add garlic and red bell pepper and continue cooking a few more minutes until pepper is tender.
  2. Add peas, corn, salt and pepper. Cook for a couple of minutes, and reduce heat to low to keep succotash warm while grilling tilapia.
  3. Season tilapia fillets with lemon pepper seasoning and brush with olive oil. Prepare grill for medium heat. Grill fish for 3 to 4 minutes per side, until fish flakes with a fork. Serve fish over succotash.

Servings: 4