Take all that summer squash all your friends (and neighbors and family and co-workers) keep trying to unload on you, cover it in a rich, irresistible blend of nuts, set it atop a mound of creamy, comforting grits, sprinkle on a bright relish, and you have one seriously sunny way to dig into summer produce.
Adding pecans to the almonds in the crust gives a gentle sweetness that pairs well with the crisp freshness of the gremolata, which itself is a nice foil to the grits. Everything about this plate is easy to love, and even with all the moving parts, it only takes 30-45 minutes to put together. Perfect for nearly any night, whether you're entertaining friends, or just yourself.
The recipe below feeds two quite generously, but you should have no problem multiplying the recipe. We were able to cook the squash on our small countertop electric grill in two batches, so if you do make a larger batch, consider using a two-burner griddle on the stove (or even baking it), flipping halfway, to keep the number of batches to a minimum.
Nut-Crusted Summer Squash with Gremolata over Chive Grits
serves 2 generously
For the gremolata:
3/4 cup loosely packed flat-leaf parsley
1 medium clove fresh garlic
For the squash:
1/2 cup raw, unsalted almonds
1/2 cup raw, unsalted pecans
scant 1/2 tsp fine sea or kosher salt
1/2 cup chickpea flour
1/2 cup water
1 generous lb (9-10 oz) summer squash, cut into scant 1/2-inch planks
For the grits:
1 cup quick-cooking grits
3 cups water
2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
2 TBSP finely chopped chives
salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Lay the parsley on a cutting board and top with a pinch of salt. Using a microplane zester, grate the garlic and then zest the lemon, letting the garlic and zest fall on top of the parsley. Mince the parsley--the garlic and zest should incorporate well while you do this. Transfer the whole mixture to a serving bowl and set aside.
Preheat an electric countertop grill (or griddle on the stove).
Use a coffee grinder to process the almonds and pecans into meal. Whisk together with 1/2 tsp salt in a pie plate. In a wide bowl, whisk together the chickpea flour and water. Dip the squash planks into the chickpea mixture, scrape off excess batter, and press both sides into the nut meal, shaking off excess. Cook until tender, but firm, and browned, 8-10 minutes in a closed electric grill. (If using the stove top, flip halfway through to brown on both sides.) Note that the chickpea mixture will thicken as it stands. If you're working in batches, add water by the TBSP to thin it out in between, as needed.
Finally, prepare the grits. Bring the water to a boil, add the grits, and reduce the heat to medium-low. Add oil, chives, and plenty of freshly cracked black pepper. Cook 5 minutes, or until tender and thickened. Salt very gently (the heavier salt in the nut crust should provide most of the salt for this dish), stir to incorporate, and remove from heat. Quickly divide the grits into two serving bowls. Top with squash and gremolata. Serve immediately.