Grilling up thick slices of zucchini creates the foundation for a Greek-inspired platter that includes pita bread, feta cheese, roasted tomatoes and fresh mint. Learn how to pollinate and grow summer squash with helpful hints from an organic gardener in this free video on garden-to-table cooking.
Hi, I'm John, and I'm Willi, and we live in Seattle where we grow a lot of our own food. Yeah, we have kind of a little urban homestead in our backyard. We've got a vegetable garden and we raise chickens and honeybees. And today, we're going to be talking about growing summer squash. So today, we're going to demonstrate how to grill zucchini 'cause, you know, a lot of times it's pan fried, but I think grilling it adds a nice smoky flavor, and the recipes kind of has a little bit of a Greek theme because we put feta cheese and mint over the top, and it's a great side dish all on its own, but it can also be part of a bigger sort of platter, so we're going to have the zucchini with the feta and mint, some pita, some hummus, and also some olives. So, I'm going to head out to the garden and demonstrate how to hand pollinate the squash and also harvest, if you want to get the grill going, that'd be cool. Definitely, let's go. Okay, alright. Zucchini is a warm season crop. That means it likes really warm days and evenings, and I have a zucchini here, it's an 8-ball zucchini, and it has little round zucchinis, 8-ball's the variety. So, one thing that happens with zucchini, is that they have male flowers and female flowers, and the way you can tell the difference is that male flowers have a stigma, which is this cone shaped plant part in the middle that's covered with pollen, and a straight stem behind. And female flowers have a little baby zucchini or squash behind them, and so in order for the squash to grow, you have to transfer pollen from the male flower to the stigma which is that plant part in the center of the female flower. So usually, bees do that, but if a bee doesn't pollinate your squash, what happens is you get something that looks like this, it was a squash that looked like it was growing fine, and then it just shriveled and fell off the plant, and that's just a lack of pollination. So, the best way to avoid that is if you hand pollinate your plants. So, what you do to hand pollinate is you pick off a male flower, peel back the petals, and then you take the female flower and you open it up so that you expose the stigma, and then you get in there and you just rub some pollen on the female flower stigma. And you can use one male flower for every three female flowers. The key to make sure that you don't have more zucchini than you can eat, is to harvest them when they're really small. You can harvest zucchini two ways, with this zucchini here it's kind of hard to get in there with my knife, and cut it off, so what I'm going to do is just grasp it firmly and then twist it clockwise, and that'll disengage it from the plant. You can also get in with a knife and saw it off, like that, and make a nice clean cut. And once you get your plants harvested you can go head and take off the squash blossom. Alright, so I've harvested a couple zucchini, and I have some inside that I harvested earlier this week, so I'm just going to go head and go into the kitchen and wash these and get them ready to grill. So I'm slicing the zucchini into about three quarter inch to one inch slices, and as you can see, the zucchini it's just barely started to form seeds. If you cut into a zucchini and you see big full on seeds, you probably want to set that aside and use it for zucchini bread or something. For the marinade, just want to put the three teaspoons of white wine vinegar, the garlic clove that's been pressed, the zest of the lemon, a nice big pinch of salt or two, and some freshly ground pepper, into a bowl, and whisk all that together, till the start, till the salt starts to dissolve, and then slowly pour in the oil, and just give it a good whisk and pour it over the zucchini. Spread it around, flip the zucchini slices over so that they're coated in the marinade, and then we're just going to cover this up with plastic wrap and stick it in the fridge and let it marinate for at least four hours, you can let it marinate overnight, and you just want to occasionally pop into the fridge and flip everything over. Okay, pretty easy. Oh my gosh, it's nice out here. It's way nice, right? Oh, these look good. So cloudy this morning. Does this feel right to you? The more the better. Because you said it need to be kind of like.... Medium hot, yeah, you should just be able to put your hand, yeah, for like five seconds before it gets too hot. Alright, I think we're. Or, if this was a gas grill, like medium. So last time we did this, we did it about three hundred and fifty degrees, and it took what, maybe eight minutes? Yeah, just, you know it's like, you know, four minutes on the first side, a couple minutes on the next side, you don't want 'em to get too smooshy. So, once you've got 'em on the grill, to let ‘em cook a little bit better and faster, I recommend putting the lid back on, so I'm going to do that and then kick back, relax, and have a home brew. So, this is checking in on the zucchini, and I'm flipping 'em over, I'm looking for this faint level of grill mark, just like in this one here, and I might want to move 'em around a little bit, as the middle of my grill cooks a lot hotter than the sides, so you want to make sure that you're getting a nice even grill. So I really like this one, it's got the grill marks on both sides. Hey Will, I think they're ready! Ok. Ooh, lookin' good, not too mushy. Oh, this is a beautiful platter. Thank you. So, I'm just going to put some feta cheese over the top of the zucchini here, and then also just a little bit of fresh mint from the garden. So, I put some olives with roasted tomatoes that I had in the fridge, along with some hummus. It's kind of nice to have the spread and then, you know, a few other little toppings to put on, kind of make your own little mini-sandwiches. The feta and the mint gives a nice savory sweet, it's truly delicious. You've outdone yourself. I really like how it comes out when we grill it like that. Yeah, I think it's a great dish to bring to a potluck, because you can make it in advance, marinate the zucchini overnight, bring it to the barbecue, throw it on the grill, and you've got a great vegetarian dish in ten minutes. Yeah, everyone's going to appreciate it, it's a little bit different than, you know, your traditional burgers or hot dogs. Yeah. Well, I hope you enjoyed this episode of Grill, Cook, Eat. We're going to be here all summer, harvesting food from our garden, and making great simple recipes in the kitchen, so I hope you'll join us again. And we want to hear your comments, so if you have any recommendations or changes to our recipes, by all means, share 'em.