Ribboning zucchini with y peeler
You’re Grilling Zucchini All Wrong

For most of my grilling life, I cut thick slices of zucchini, seasoned them with a brush of olive oil and sprinkle of salt, and popped them on a hot grill. They couldn’t be easier to prepare, and those nice, fat pieces rarely fell victim to the hollows of the grill.

What I found lacking in flavor I made up for with a punchy garlic and vinegar marinade, or a pungent basil puree. Even so, the texture was spongy and uninteresting. See, with all that inherent moisture present in the zucchini, thick slices end up steaming from the inside out. There’s no other possible outcome than mush.

So a few year’s back when I first tried the (new to me) method of ribboning zucchini and threading it onto skewers, my mind was blown. Why is this cooking method so spectacular? It’s all about the surface area of each sliver and its ability to be properly seasoned, and the texture this style yields.

As the zucchini cooks on the grill, the interior becomes soft, almost custard-like as the extra water is able to evaporate. The exterior, in direct contact with the grates, absorbs the smoky flavors of the grill and chars up beautifully, with the thinner, more exposed parts, becoming crispy. This combination of sweet and soft on the inside, and charred and crispy on the outside, is quite simply, magical.

Grab your vegetable peeler, and let’s get started – or if you have one, a mandolin will also do the trick. Wash the zucchini and trim the ends. Lay it flat on a work surface, and with care shave thin strips horizontally down the entire length of the zucchini. Once you’ve worked your way through, repeat with any remaining zucchini.

Next, lay the ribbons on a board, brush both sides with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt. Take your pre-soaked wooden skewers, anywhere from 12-18 inches in length, and starting with one ribbon, pierce through the vegetable about ¾-inch from the end, fold it over, and repeat  ¾-inch to an inch below the first piercing. Doing so, you’ll form an accordion pattern. Continue until you reach an inch or so from the end of the ribbon. 

Note about pre-soaking skewers: Whenever grilling with wooden skewers, I always pre-soak them for at least 30 minutes before using. This helps keep the skewers from burning while on the grill, and also helps soften the wood, making it easier to thread the vegetables without splintering.

Place the skewers on a hot grill and turn evenly until they are charred and cooked through. This should take anywhere from 8-10 minutes depending on the heat of your grill. Adjust the heat or move skewers to indirect heat if they are browning too quickly. Serve warm, just as they are, or sprinkle with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, if so inclined.

Key Lime Mojito

Prep Time 5 minutes
Fresh squeezed juice is key for optimal flavor, bottled won't cut it. If key limes aren't available, you can use regular limes. If you like your drinks sweet, use the full amount of sugar, otherwise, pair back for a nicely balanced cocktail.
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Course Cocktails
Servings 2 cocktails

Ingredients
 

  • 10-12 fresh mint leaves
  • 4 ounces fresh squeezed key lime juice
  • 1 ½-2½ tablespoons fine sugar
  • 3 ounces white rum
  • 8 ounces sparkling water

Instructions
 

  • Place the mint, lime and sugar in a cocktail shaker or jar with a lid. Depending on how sweet you like your drinks use more or less sugar. Using a muddler or large spoon, smash it all together until the sugar is dissolved. Pour in the rum.
  • Add a handful of ice cubes, place the lid on the shaker or jar and shake vigorously.
  • Fill two glasses with ice and some fresh mint sprigs. Strain the juice and rum mixture into the glasses equally and top each with equal amounts of sparkling water.

Notes

If you don’t have key limes, you can always substitute the juice of regular limes.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
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