Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Grilled Butternut Squash & Peppers--a side, a main, or a meal.

Chunks of grilled butternut squash and bell peppers as a side dish, tossed with grilled sausage for a main dish, and/or combined with pasta for a complete meal.

Grilled Butternut Squash & Peppers--a side, a main, or a meal.

Just because school is back in session and the leaves are turning it's no time to put away the grill. In fact, grilling winter squash when it looks like Fall and the calendar says it's still summer seems like a good idea. If you want to get all-season about it, I even made this recipe in the Spring, using the tail end of my Strategic Winter Squash Reserve.

Grilled Butternut Squash & Peppers--a side, a main, or a meal.
What's a Strategic Winter Squash Reserve? I'm glad you asked. It's one of the ways I feed my family from the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm share all year long. During the season (approximately late May-ish to early October-ish) we eat some of the share and put up the rest for later. One of the easiest vegetables to put up is winter squash. Winter squashes (acorn, buttercup, butternut, pumpkin and spaghetti are most common) are terrific long-storing vegetables. In a cool dark place (the cold corner of my breakfast nook once it stops hitting 90 outside) the squash will keep for months. Many months. Just be sure to look over your squash every few days and use them in a timely manner.
I've revamped my Visual Recipe Index! For more ideas on what to do with your butternut squash, click here.
Grilled Butternut Squash & Peppers--a side, a main, or a meal.

This recipe follows the Bus Stop method of cooking I've used in previous posts, such as the Potato, Beet and Leek Soup (and How to Make Vegetable Stock). Depending on how far you take this 'bus', you'll make a vegan side dish, a paleo/grain free main dish, or a complete meal for omnivores. Or all three--with a single cooking session.*


Grilled Butternut Squash & Peppers--a side, a main, or a meal.
Grilled Butternut Squash & Peppers--a side, a main, or a meal.
Grilled Butternut Squash & Peppers--a side, a main, or a meal.

Grilled Butternut Squash & Peppers

1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed (check out Alanna's tutorial here)
3 bell peppers, seeded and quartered (tops to the composting pig!)
2 to 3 Tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper to start off  (you'll taste and adjust at the end)
½ cup chopped onion
Option Additions:
1 pound Polish sausage of your choice
1 pound bow tie pasta, cooked according to package directions
grated cheddar or parmesan cheese
vinaigrette

Preheat grill over medium high heat, and add a grilling basket to preheat if you've got one [mine's from the thrift shop]. In a large bowl, toss squash cubes with 2 Tablespoons olive oil and a healthy pinch of salt and pepper. Spread the squash in an even layer in the preheated basket, cover and grill undisturbed while you prep the peppers.  In the same large bowl, toss the peppers with the remnants of the oil. You may need to add additional oil and pinches of salt and pepper. Place the peppers on the grill. 
Now we get to the tricky part, since I have a little old grill without bells or whistles and I truly don't have clear concise instructions as if I was baking this meal. The best I can do is tell you how the vegetables need to look, not precise grilling times, as your grill is probably bigger, and hotter, and therefore quixotically far cooler, than mine. For me, the butternut squash took about 20 minutes total, the peppers were ready in 15 minutes, and the onions took about 8-10 minutes.
Once the peppers and squash have some caramelization, some grill marks on the bottom, flip the peppers and stir the squash. Continue flipping/stirring until both the squash and peppers have softened. Add the onions to the basket when you think the squash needs one more stir interval before it's done.  If you're serving this as a side dish, stop now: chop the peppers and toss everything together. Taste to see if you need more salt or pepper or if any spices call to you. Do you want to add some grated cheese?
If you're adding meat, move the peppers to the basket and lay a coil of Polish sausage on the grill. Repeat the method of checking the bottom for grill marks before flipping. My Polish sausage was fully cooked so I just sizzled it on both sides. If you're serving this as a main dish, stop now: chop the peppers and slice the sausage into thin rounds, then toss everything together (the same large bowl is fine--really), taste, and see if it needs a bit more salt or pepper--or dried Italian spices or cumin or whatever floats your boat today.
If you're adding pasta, have a minion cook the pasta while you're outside grilling. When the pasta is ready, toss the drained pasta with the chopped and sliced meat and vegetables, taste to see if you want additional seasonings, sprinkle with some cheese if you like, and dig in. If you want to add additional flavoring, have your son whip up a vinaigrette and serve that alongside.

*I admit I pause when I think about grilling vegetables for vegetarians on a grill that has been used to grill meat.  I keep separate vegetable and meat cutting boards, which is probably weird, but I'm thinking that a basic scrub of a hot grill is probably not good enough for me if I knew I were serving vegetarians. Perhaps folks with bigger grills could have dedicated vegetable only racks? What do you do? As a vegetarian, what would you like your meat-grilling host to do?

Grilled Butternut Squash & Peppers--a side, a main, or a meal.
There's no way the 5 second rule could apply here. This is now compost.

6 comments:

  1. Honestly, when I was a veggie I didn't mind if my meat was cooked on the same grill. I wouldn't eat meat (or meat products like anchovies in Caesar salad dressing, chicken stock in anything, even some cheeses) but I didn't mind if it was cooked in the same place as it. That being said, I worked in a restaurant where people wouldn't order deep fried veggie things because meat went into the deep fryer.

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    1. Kristy,
      Good to know--I know everyone's reasons are different and try to be sensitive to that.
      Thanks!

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  2. This looks so good! I can't wait to get squash in our CSA again. (I probably shouldn't be so eager to wish away they last few days of summer!) I've never thought of grilling squash though... I will have to give that a try....

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    Replies
    1. Beth,
      Be careful what you wish for!
      Thanks!

      Delete
  3. I like you bus stop posts. Plenty of options and perhaps you could even take all that grilled deliciousness and blend it into a soup with some cream or stock.

    As a veggie lover, I tend to be alright with my veggie burger next to the meat patty on the grill. I realize it's impractical for people to have separate grills for this purpose. I would prefer though you didn't use the same tongs to pick up the sausage as you do the vegetables. If it happens, I shrug it off and move on. At the end of the day, I'd rather eat than get up on a pedestal about vegetarian hygiene. I do really appreciate it when people recognize these things and go out of their way, like having two separate cutting boards.

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    Replies
    1. Meghan,
      Soup is a terrific idea. I like how your mind thinks.
      Thanks!

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