Our winter squash sliced and seasoned with Cumin and ready for the grill!
WOOD GRILLING WINTER SQUASH WITH CUMIN & HARDWOOD
Full of color, flavor and packed with nutrients, winter squash makes for exceptional seasonal dishes, whether soups, casseroles, or desserts. Harvested in the approaching Fall, they are available all winter long due to their firm shells. With varieties such as sugar pumpkins, acorn squash, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, buttercup, and red kuri, sweetness level is always present.
Naturally low in fat and calories, yet rich in vitamins A, B6, C, and E, you can’t go wrong with any variety you select.
Today, I’ve elected to make cumin squash on the grill using confetti squash, so called due to the beautiful multi-skin coloring. Note, you may substitute any rounded winter squash available near you for this recipe.
To allow for slow roasting on the grill, I recommend a two-zone cooking set up. Lite half the burners on your gas grill – if an odd number of burners, decide how many you need for the cooking temperature. The lit burners should be set to medium to obtain a cooking temperature of about 375°F. Add wood chunks to the lit burner side either directly on the heat shields or in a smoker box. My smoker box accommodates three double filet wood chunks easily. The prepared squash will go on the unlit side of the grill.
Tasting Notes: Your choice of hardwood will determine the boldness of the smoke infusion. I find that the skin of the squash will take most of the smoke vapor so really any hardwood or combination of hardwoods will do. Be sure to keep extra pieces in case you need to replace halfway through the roasting process.
Seasoning the Squash
To start our recipe, first wash and dry off your squash. Then cut in half and remove the seeds. Slice the squash into 1-inch slices and place in a high heat tolerant pan. Once sliced, prepare to toast 3 tablespoons of sesame seeds in a skillet over medium-high heat until golden brown. If you’re able to locate cumin seeds, toast 1-1/2 teaspoons of cumin seeds with the browned sesame seeds. Transfer the seeds to a bowl and allow to cool.
Now prepare the squash seasoning by combining 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground coriander, 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1-1/2 teaspoons coarse salt, and ¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper. If you didn’t have cumin seeds, then include 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin. Drizzle 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil on the squash slices and sprinkle with squash seasoning. Toss to coat all the way around the slices.
Grill-Roasting with Wood
With the grill preheated, the wood chunks smoking, and the temperature gauge reading close to 375°F, I place the trays of prepared squash on the grill grates and close the lid. I allow this to roast for 30 minutes, then I return to the grill, check the wood chunks and add more wood if needed. Briefly toss the squash to ensure even cooking and close the lid again.
Once tender and bronze in color, I remove the squash from the grill and plate to a serving platter. Total cooking time is about one hour though this is dependent on the thickness of your slices and quantity of squash you’ve added to the pan. Remember, the rind of squash is loaded with nutritional value as well and will be very tender so there is no need to discard it. Consume the entire slice.
Roasting winter squash on the grill with wood is the perfect way to usher in the cooler weather and enjoy all this great flavor.
Tasting Notes: You can serve this as is or feel free to process the slices into a puree for use in soups or as a filler to pasta or even desserts. There are many options with grill roasted winter squash.
The finished- WOOD GRILLED VERSION OF CHEF WATERS’ GOAT CHEESE SALAD
A WOOD GRILLED VERSION OF CHEF WATERS’ GOAT CHEESE SALAD
listen to- A WOOD GRILLED VERSION OF CHEF WATERS’ GOAT CHEESE SALAD
Taking a page from Chef Alice Waters, we are making our version of the baked goat cheese salad by wood baking the goat cheese rounds on the grill using a two-zone cooking method and wood chunks for smoky flavor. Then making garlic crostini for the croutons on the charcoal grill to serve alongside this fabulous salad dish. A recipe that can be a salad course or an entrée on its own, we also give you an easy way to make this into an appetizer. Purchase 12 ounces of quality goat cheese in log form and let’s get grilling.
Marinate to Start
This dish requires at least 8 hours of marinade time though I like to do mine overnight. It’s the marinade of oil and fresh herbs that give the goat cheese great flavor. Cut the goat cheese log into ½-inch rounds. In the bottom of a glass dish, sprinkle chopped fresh herbs of your choice; today I’m using oregano but most any fresh herb will do. Place the goat cheese rounds into the dish and pour over a ¼ cup of olive oil. Turn the cheese rounds over to coat both sides. Place fresh herb sprigs over the top of the rounds, cover with wrap and marinate in the refrigerator.
Tasting Notes: Other fresh herbs work great with this recipe but note that stronger herbs like thyme and rosemary likely don’t need the layers of chopped herbs at the bottom of the dish. Simply lay the fresh herb springs on top of the goat cheese rounds and marinate in the refrigerator.
Grilling with Wood Chunks
Once the goat cheese has marinated, it’s time to coat it in a mixture of ½ cup plain breadcrumbs and two teaspoons dried herb of your choice. I’ll be using oregano but other good options include thyme, basil, marjoram, rosemary. Once coated on both sides, place the cheese rounds on a lightly greased shallow pan. I’m using mini sheet pans as they work well on the grill, even for a two-zone cooking method.
As this is a cheese dish it is important that a two-zone cooking method is used which means the cheese will be going on the unlit side of the grill. I’m using a smoker box with three hardwood chunks to provide the smoke flavor to the cheese, with the box placed on the hot side of the grill. Total time to cook will be about 20 minutes. You’ll know the cheese rounds are ready once browned and bubbly.
While the cheese is on the grill, prepare the vinaigrette by combining ¼ cup red wine vinegar, salt, and fresh ground pepper. Whisk in ½ cup of olive oil and set aside.
Greens and Garlic Crostini
To go with the goat cheese rounds and salad vinaigrette, I’m making garlic crostini on the charcoal grill. Using ½-inch slices of a day-old baguette, brush both sides of each slice with melted butter. Place on a high heat tolerant sheet over hot coals only, no active flames. Allow the slices to brown and slightly char before turning over. Once browned on both sides, remove from the grill and brush with the cut side of a garlic clove. I cut these crostini slices in half at the diagonal to go with the salad.
Tasting Notes: An assortment of fresh greens can be used for the salad though I like to use a combination of bitters with more savory greens.
Assembling to Enjoy
With all the components made its time to assemble our salad. Start by mixing the vinaigrette with the greens. I like to place the garlic crostini on the outside of the salad and the wood-baked cheese rounds in the center of the greens. This is best served while the cheese is warm. Here’s another suggestion: this can make for the perfect appetizer if you cut each round in half so they fit on a garlic crostini. For that recipe, prepare the same but place a few leaves of salad on the garlic crostini and top with a wood baked goat cheese half round. There you have it! A super easy salad or appetizer with that signature wood flavor that takes Chef Waters’ recipe to a new level.