I admire food bloggers who regularly maintain their blogs. Their dedication inspires me. At least, it inspires the ambitious and more optimistic half of me. Because the other half, looming distrustfully by, is convinced that recipes become recycled, Ingredient A, Subset A, swapped out for Ingredient A, Subset B. This darker half of me slinks around a contentless blog and mumbles and mutters about the heroism in originality.
But then the optimistic half, with his hibiscus breath, interjects and says originality is not the end, but one mean, among other means, to the ultimate end of satisfaction. Shadow Half, sardonic as he is, snaps back and asks with this schmuckish grin, “The satisfaction of what, the eyes?” Rainbow Half is unfazed. He puts his finger over Shadow’s lips and asks, “Don’t we eat with those, anyway?” I mean, it’s indulgent and horrible. A whole platonic dialogue unfolds.
Meanwhile, this poor, dejected blog sits like an alder under the moss, becoming more and more lost in the thousands of other food blogs, everyday more inaccessible and less significant, blending into grey, hyperlinked connectionlessness. Just wait. You’ll see it happen sometime around autumn, when school starts, a teenage seaside love affair that dissolves into the equinox.
For now, the love affair remains aloft. And many of these summer nights have me in front of my tiny Weber grill on my tiny balcony cooking tiny portions. I’ve discovered this love of barely warm, freshly cooked food. In fact, I’d argue this might best be served at room temperature, after the salt has brought out the juices from within, and the sweet balsamic has begun marinating into the fruit. You know, at that point in the late-night phone call, inhibitions down some, when the conversation really gets saucy.
Prep the Toppings
For the Balsamic Reduction
- 2/3 cup balsamic vinegar
- 3 tsp. brown sugar
Combine in a saucepan and simmer over medium heat until it’s reduced by half, or to taste. Turn off heat. It will become sticky, but you’ll be able to turn the pan back on later to work with it.
For the Pistachios and Herbs
- 25 g. pistachio meats (a Tbsp. or two)
- Parsley, chopped
- Basil, chopped
In a dry skillet, heat the pistachio meats over medium heat until toasty, about seven minutes. Cool, then chop. Chop the herbs, too.
Go Get Grilling
- 4 small summer squashes (e.g. zucchini, crookneck yellow, sunburst), halved lengthwise
- 2-3 Tbsp. olive oil
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Red chile flakes, to taste
After slicing the squash, rub them with oil, salt and pepper.
Turn the saucepan with the balsamic reduction onto WARM or over the gentlest flame.
Over medium-high charcoal heat, grill both sides until charred, just a couple minutes. You’ll see squash juices bubbling out from the flesh. Pull them before they get too soft.
Have a Love Affair
Either brush the balsamic reduction onto the inside of the squash, or dip it into the pan. Repeat with all of them. Sprinkle a little more salt over them. Finish with herbs and pistachios.
Photos by Lori Paulson