*This post was created in partnership with California Walnuts. I’m thrilled to be working with them in 2019 to bring you many recipes that highlight this delicious and nutritious ingredient. As always, the words, images and recipes are mine.
Summer. When the ingredients I love the very most are at their peak but I’m too distracted by our adventures to want to bring myself to the kitchen to cook. To combat this, we do one of two things: Get outside, away from the kitchen to cook or we keep the food incredibly simple. Because when tomatoes are still warm from the sun there’s little more needed beyond salt and perhaps a green and grassy olive oil. Or when corn is sweet straight off the stalk it needs very little attention. And squash, one of many ingredients this time of year that we often end up with a fridge full, we bring it to the fire.
In this recipe we’re doing both; keeping it simple and cooking outside.
Grilled squash becomes tender, sweet and smoky. It is a lovely side to grilled meats, quite nice tossed with pasta, and is delightful with a creamy goat cheese or salty feta. But here we’re serving it with a smoky muhammara sauce which originates from the Middle East and is a flavorful red pepper and walnut sauce or spread. You can buy roasted red peppers for the sauce or roast them yourself on a gas stove or in the oven. Better yet, roast them over the fire for an even deeper layer of smoke.
I do recommend you toast your walnuts for the sauce until just before you think you’ve gone too far. One day while toasting a tray of nuts I walked away for a few minutes too long then came back to find nuts that seemed to be over the edge of edibility. Not wanting to waste the ingredient I tried the nearly-too-toasty nuts and found them complex and pleasantly bitter. Now I am a fearless toaster and am never afraid of too much color.
This dish is a perfect hearty lunch for one (hello!) or a great side to grilled fish, shrimp or any protein off the grill, really. As it stands, this dish is vegan but if that’s not needed I do think a creamy goat or salty feta would be so lovely here.
Grilled Summer Squash with Muhammara
Muhammara1 large fresh red bell pepper, roasted ½ cup chopped scallions (3 to 4 scallions)
Zest and juice from 1 small lemon1 teaspoon ground cumin¾ cup walnuts, deeply toasted, dividedSea salt1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, more or less to taste5 tablespoons olive oil, divided4 to 6 assorted variety summer squash and zucchini, thinly slicedOlive oilSea salt
Combine roasted pepper, scallions, lemon zest and juice, cumin, 1/2 cup toasted walnuts and a hearty pinch of salt in the bowl of a food processor.
Pulse until everything is finely chopped.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl then continue to pulse until minced.
Add 3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil then process until everything is completely smooth. Reserve the remaining 1/4 cup walnuts for garnishing.
Gently coat the squash with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.
Grill over a hot grill until charred, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Continue until all the squash is grilled then transfer to a platter and top with the muhammara sauce and reserved chopped walnuts.
Garnish with fresh mint, chives or parsley.
Want more great walnut recipes? Check out the other recipes we’ve made this year.