Summer's best produce stars in this recipe for grilled eggplant and zucchini dip with tahini. Perfect for serving with toasted whole grain pita!
And so it begins: The Summer of the Squash.
Earlier this Spring, Scott came home with twenty squash seedlings, leftover from a community garden project at work. At first I fought him when he wanted to plant all twenty, knowing squash reproduce like rabbits, but then I remembered we kill everything we plant, so I let the boy have his fun.
Two months later, we could essentially cure a small developing nation of nutritional deficiencies with our backyard garden.
Good thing I really like squash.
Since you're about to see an ungodly amount of summer squash on the blog this summer, I figure now's the time to talk about why consuming ungodly amounts of summer squash is a good thing.
Summer squash are in the cucumber and melon family and were first cultivated in Mexico and Central America, where they were referred to as part of the "three sisters" alongside beans and corn. Yellow squash and zucchini are commonly found in the grocery store, but if you explore the farmer's market, you'll find heirloom varieties like pattypan (perfect for stuffing...coming soon!), zephyr, eightball and limelight. If you're growing squash in your garden, don't be like me and forget to harvest it for a few days - although the massive footlong zucchini are hilariously fun, they tend to taste woody and bitter compared to the more tender squash harvested around 6 inches.
Summer squash are a very good source of a wide variety of nutrients - folate, vitamin C, B6, copper, magnesium, and potassium to name just a few! It's also a good source of fiber with 2.5 grams in a cup, much of that fiber coming from pectin, which is especially beneficial for blood sugar control. Also, because you eat the seeds in squash, you get a little dose of omega 3 fats. Who knew!
Because I just can't bring myself to toss anything that came from our backyard, I've been working squash into as many meals as I possibly can. My breakfast for the next 3 months will likely be some variation on this shredded sauteed squash with basil (also from the garden), goat cheese and a fried egg. For diner, I've already made stuffed squash and more zucchini side dishes than you can imagine. And for snacks, I've been obsessing over this grilled vegetable and tahini dip. You could use almost any vegetable you like in this, as long as it's grill-able. Try peppers, mushrooms, onions or tomatoes. I do like the including an eggplant, since it's creamy texture makes it more dip-like. Serve this with whole grain pita, ak-mak crackers or tortilla chips.
Now, I'd like to offer a special for Columbia area clients. Sign up for coaching sessions with me this summer and you get a free bonus - a giant basket of zucchini!! Come get while the gettins' good!
Grilled Eggplant and Zucchini Dip
Feel free to use other vegetables like mushrooms, peppers or onion.
- 1 large eggplant, sliced 1/2-in thick
- 2 large zucchini, halved lengthwise and each half cut into 4 spears
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- 1/2 cup tahini
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- Heat a grill to medium-high heat. Spray or brush the vegetables with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Spread vegetables evenly on the grill and cook 7-10 minutes on one side. Flip and cook another 5 minutes on the other side until tender and lightly charred. Remove to a platter and set aside to cool.
- While the vegetables are cooling, make the dressing. Whisk together tahini, lemon juice, garlic, cumin and parsley, then season with salt and pepper.
- When vegetables are cool enough to handle, dice and place in a large bowl. Pour in dressing and stir to combine. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
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