Summer gardens will be plentiful with summer squashes by the end of the month and you may start to receive them as gifts. I grow my own but would certainly accept another gardeners summer squash if offered. There are so many great summer recipes in which to include zucchini and other summer squashes.
One of my favorite summer recipes is a summer soup which is great cold, like a vichysoisse. Who doesn’t love the flavor of fresh grilled vegetables and nothing brings out the flavor of zucchini like a grill. Slice them lengthwise and coat with olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt. Make sure your grill is hot and stay near by. They grill quickly. Lay them on on platter or cookie sheet and set aside until ready to puree. Choose a garnish like lump crab meat or spicy shrimp. If you are a vegetarian, use a vegetable stock and garnish with fresh herbs right from the garden.
Two large or four small Zucchini
two to three peeled shallots
half cup of extra virgin olive oil
one clove of garlic
four to five cups of stock (vegetable, chicken-homemade or store bought)
high quality grated Parmesan cheese for garnish (optional)
or chilled cooked shrimp or crabmeat cocktail.
Grilling or broiling the Zucchini
Begin by preheating your grill or broiler. Thoroughly wash your zucchini with a sponge. Try to resist peeling them as a great deal of the flavor and the nutrients are in their skin. Slice zucchini lengthwise into long strips and place on large cookie sheet. Add salt to taste and pinch of black pepper. Drizzle generously with olive oil and toss to coat all zucchini in the tray.
Your grill or broiler should be hot and you should hear a sizzle when placing the first strips of zucchini. Have another cookie sheet on a table next to you and a pair of long grilling tongs. Grill the strips for one to two minutes per side which is just enough to see grill marks but not overcook. If you are broiling the zucchini then set broil on high and cook for 3 minutes on each side. As each strip comes off the grill, place onto new cookie sheet.
Making the bisque
Set aside the equivalent of two cups of grilled zucchini. Mince two to three shallots. Sauté chopped shallots with olive oil until the mixture becomes a golden color. Add a minced clove of garlic and watch carefully so as not to burn it. Then set aside to cool.
Puree the zucchini and shallot-garlic mixture in batches mixed with stock. Blend about a third cup of grilled zucchini to every cup of stock. Use ladle to control the amount of stock per blending cycle. Then blend thoroughly, pouring out into a medium sized saucepan. You may add more or less stock depending on the consistency of the puree. Since we call this a bisque, a medium consistency should be reached by making sure it is not too watery – like a soup – or too thick like a chowder. Bisque is an emulsified soup and should contain some cream but zucchini and shallots blend into a velvety texture that are perfectly emulsified with the aid of olive oil. Taste your bisque and adjust salt according to your preference. Garnish with your choice and and serve with crusty bread and a salad for a light summer dinner. Serve heated or chilled.