How to make grilled squash with mint-pomegranate pesto
If your diet depends on seasonal vegetables - particularly local ones - you owe it to yourself to explore a variety of ways to cook these beauties.
In the months ahead, when the produce in farmers markets thins out during the long march toward spring, they'll still be there, ready for another meal.
Some cooks get caught up in the question of squash variety, and, sure, it can be mind-boggling if you let it. For the most part, one squash can pretty much substitute for another in just about any dish.
Grilled Squash With Mint-Pomegranate Pesto (Serves 4-6)
The pesto needs to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving. You'll have about a cup of it left over; it can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature and stir just before using.
Ingredients f or the pesto
- 1/3 cup fresh pomegranate seeds
- 1 tablespoon minced shallot
- 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest, plus 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or more as needed
For the squash
- 1 winter squash, about 800g halved across the equator and seeded
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
For the pesto
- Combine the mint, pomegranate seeds, shallot, oil, pomegranate molasses, Parmesan and lime zest in a medium bowl.
- Use a Microplane zester to grate the garlic into the mixture; stir to combine, then stir in the salt. Taste, and add more salt as needed. Let sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes.
- Stir in the lime juice just before serving.
- The yield is 1 1/2 cups.
For the squash:
- Preheat the oven to 220 degrees.
- Place the squash halves, cut sides down, in a roasting pan.
- Add 1/4 cup water to the pan, then cover with aluminium foil; roast until the squash has softened, 25 to 35 minutes.
- Transfer the squash halves to a platter or cutting board to cool, then cut each half into thirds.
- Heat a large grill pan over high heat.
- Drizzle the squash wedges with the oil, turning to coat, and season lightly with salt and pepper.
- Cook the squash pieces one one side until well charred, 3 to 5 minutes. Resist the urge to move them; the wedges will release easily from the pan once they begin to blacken.
- Turn them over and cook the other side until charred, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Transfer to a serving platter.
- Stir the pesto to reincorporate, then spoon 1/2 cup of the pesto over the squash.
- Serve warm.
Adapted from "Gjelina: Cooking from Venice, California," by Travis Lett (Chronicle Books, 2015).
The Washington Post