Grilled Squash & Eggplant

This summer has been the summer of fresh veggies. We started going to the farmer’s market and really experimenting with all the locally grown vegetables. The tomatoes were awesome and we made our share of capresse salads! The other two vegetables that caught our eyes were the variety of squash and eggplants. We’ve always enjoyed squash in the summer but only the ones from the local grocery. I didn’t know there was such a diverse variety of them so we tries to pick samples that were new to us. Our favorite turns out to be the flying saucer squash. We cooked it every way we could imagine. We grilled it, baked it, stuffed it and made casseroles out of it. Every way was great, but to really enjoy the flavor, we found grilling to be the best.

Flying Saucer Squash

The same thing happened with eggplant. Neither of us have much experience with eggplants. They always look neat and fun when you see them in the market. Their bright purple skin always catches my eye but we didn’t know what to do with them so we skipped them. This summer at the farmer’s market we found the deep purple ones, but also some white one and striped ones. I looked online and found some really interesting recipes and we found out we really love the eggplants! The best tip I found on line was to sweat the eggplants with salt before you use them. This gets out the excess water and leaves a creamy, sweet texture that can be a meal on its own.

To celebrate the end of summer, here is our favorite way of preparing both the squash and eggplant. I’m already looking forward to next year’s crop!

Squash and Eggplant in bowl

Ingredients:

  • 2 squash, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 eggplant, cut into 1/2 inch round discs
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste

Instructions

Once you’ve cut the squash and eggplant, place the eggplant on a cooking sheet and coat each side of the discs with a layer of salt. Let them sit in the salt to draw out the excess moisture. Check them periodically and drain off the water. Turn them over after about 15 minutes and re-salt them.

Squash and Eggplant cut

Once your ready, heat your grill to medium-high heat. Coat the squash and eggplant with a light layer of olive oil and a little salt and pepper. Place them on the grill and cook 3 minutes per side.

Grilled Squash and Eggplant

When you’re done, the outside with have a thin skin on them but the inside will be moist and tender. If you’re vegetarian, this could be a main course, but for us, it is a great side for any kind of grilled meat. They are also great placed on top of a small bed of simple pasta.

Chorizo, Squash, and Jalapeno Cornbread Stuffing

Here is our golden brown stuffing right out of the oven

This is from a recipe that we found in a magazine a long time ago. It was part of a group of recipes that we used to create a southwestern inspired Thanksgiving dinner. It’s a great alternative to the standard stuffing with a lot more flavor and complexity. By the way, don’t be afraid of the jalapenos, you’re going to remove the seeds and interior veins so it won’t be too hot, but you can cut back on the amount of the peppers if you have sensitive eaters at your table.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled ans cut into 1/2 cubes (about 2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 12 ounces chorizo sausage, casing removed
  • 1 stick of butter (1/2 cup)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cups chopped green onions (about 8 large)
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped seeded & deveined jalapeno peppers (about 4 large peppers)
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
  • Cornbread (2 packages of cornbread mix – see Quick Buttermilk Corn Bread below)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup (or more) low-salt chicken broth

INSTRUCTIONS

Combine the squash and 1/2 cup of water in a large skillet. Bring the water to boil over medium high heat. Cover and reduce heat to medium. Cook for about 7 minutes, until the squash is almost tender. Uncover them and sprinkle them with salt. Boil uncovered until squash is tender and water has evaporated, about 2 minutes. Let them cool completely.

Then, saute the chorizo in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat until cooked and fat is rendered. About 5 minutes. Break up the chorizo with the back of a fork. Now, strain the chorizo and dippings over a bowl.

Using the same skillet that you just cooked the chorizo, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add onion, green onion, celery and chilies. Saute the items for 8 minutes then mix in the drained chorizo, cilantro, sage, and squash. You can make this a day ahead. Just store it covered in your refrigerator.

Here is our chorizo mixture. We made it on Wednesday night so it will be easier to put together on Thanksgiving morning.

Now, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a glass baking dish. Coarsely crumble corn bread into a large bowl and mix in the chorizo mixture. Using a small bowl, beat eggs and 1/2 cup broth. Now, add the egg mixture to the stuffing. Gently toss this together. If the mix is too dry, mix in additional broth, 1/4 cups at a time. Transfer this stuffing mix into the prepared glass baking dish and cover with buttered foil, butter side down. Bake this for 45 minutes and then uncover and bake until the top of the stuffing is crisp and gold, about 15 minutes.

Here is our stuffing ready to go into the oven.

CORNBREAD

For the cornbread, use 2 packages and make this before you’re ready to begin putting the stuffing together. You can use any cornbread you like. If you are at a loss, here’s an easy recipe for home made cornbread from scratch or you can use the recipe below:

Cornbread

Here’s the finished cornbread. A classic, just like my Granny would have made in this old skillet.

Mix the following:

  • two 8.5 ounce packages of corn bread mix
  • 1.5 cups of buttermilk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter (1/2 stick), melted

Blend these items in a large bowl, then transfer to a prepared pan. Bake the bread until tester inserted into the center is clean, about 25 minutes. When it’s done, cool it on a rack. You can make this a day ahead. Just wrap the bread in foil and store it at room temp until you’re ready.