Summer Squash Carpaccio

SummerSquashCarpaccioVertbfLOTwo things first: I KNOW what carpaccio is, and this isn’t it, except for the thinly sliced business with the onion and squashes. Second, I KNOW I am not a HUGE squash fan either; but man was this one simple and tasty salad – good thing too, when you consider the fate of the potatoes, but I get ahead of myself…

Yesterday was the second of my helping out with the moving of Norma’s Academy from Kewaunee to Algoma; and I have to say I did not know Northern Wisconsin got THAT hot and muggy. After sweating through Monday’s truckloads, we chilled on the deck with a nice dinner of barbecued salmon and such. The food was good, the company pleasant, and the Chardonnay kept on comin’ – what’s not to love? Well, the bugs, for one – many, many, many, many, many mosquitoes and their annoying little friends had no respect for our nice dinner. Also, after moving stuff all day in the heat and humidity, we found ourselves sitting around in the evening in the heat and humidity.

As Tuesday dawned just as hot and sticky as the day before, Mike (whom I refer to as ‘The Man With the Plan’ – well, one of ‘em on this project anyway…) and his very nice wife Susan offered us their AIR CONDITIONED home and loaded-with-propane grill on Green Bay for dinner that night. Norma had pulled some chicken breasts from her freezer and had been given some humongous zucchini and summer squash from a friend’s garden. The chicken was easy, I made some buttermilk substitute by putting 2 tbsp of lemon juice in a 2 cup measurer, and then topped it off with milk (we used 2%). Let that sit for 5 minutes and you have a nice replacement for the real thing. We added some smooshed garlic cloves, a bit of  Tabasco, and some coarse ground pepper, then poured the whole mixture over the chicken in a sealable bag. Left to itself overnight in the fridge, it is a good thing, but you can also speed things up a bit by letting it all sit on the counter for an hour. Yes, food poisoning and chicken and all that – the chicken was cold, the ‘buttermilk’ was cold, and, besides, we didn’t die. We planned to bring the chicken bag and some of my barbecue sauce to Mike and Susan’s to finish the deed on the grill. We had also PLANNED to bring a bowl of new potatoes tossed with garlic, onion, red and black pepper and olive oil, wrap them into packets and toss ‘em on the grill with the chicken. Well, lets just say that a Corning casserole on top of a sealed(?) bag o’ chicken in buttermilk in a paper bag on a hot and muggy night was not, as it turned out, the best mode of transport – tho’ the remaining bits of smashed seasoned potato and onion mixture left by the side of the driveway smelled lovely as we were leaving. *sigh*

Fortunately, the chicken was saved. Also fortunately, Mike had offered to bring the squash carpaccio over with him in his car (see? – a man with a plan!) – so that was safely chilling in the kitchen one level below the driveway and our failed potato dreams.

Long story a little longer, the chicken was rockin’! – if I do say so myself, and Mike did a great job with it on the grill. The buttermilk and stuff seasoned the meat and kept it moist  while grilling. The barbecue sauce, slathered on in the last few minutes of cooking, gave it a nicely crunchy ‘skin.’

Now for the squash. When Norma showed me this HUGE bag of even HUGER squash and asked how I planned to serve it, I had no idea what to do. Well, all praise ‘da Google’ and the nice folks at Food Network Magazine for this wonderful bit of unexpected summer goodness. I made a few changes to their recipe (surprise!), based on what we had on hand and what I thought should go in. Everyone seemed quite happy with the results, so I’ll be giving my version here – check out if you’d like the original. If you do – be sure to read the user reviews – because I was skeptical about this recipe too. Try it either their way or mine, you won’t be sorry.

•Summer and Zucchini Squash (we used about one of each, but they were HUGE)
•One good sized onion – we used yellow, but red would be nice, too
•Good olive oil
•Lemon juice
•Herbs – I had a BIT of Norma’s fresh garden basil left, so we supplemented with dried Italian Seasoning from the spice cupboard
•Crushed red pepper
•Parmesan or Romano Cheese – we used shredded parm, because that’s what we had; big, beautiful shavings of both would look spectacular on top of this

Slice the squashes and onion very thin

Arrange a layer of zucchini slices in the bottom a flat, rimmed platter or low serving dish

Top with a layer of onion

Sprinkle with the olive oil, lemon juice, herbs, crushed red pepper and capers

Repeat with the yellow squash slices and onion, topping again with more drizzled olive oil, lemon juice, capers and seasonings

Repeat as much as you like (we did two layers each of zucchini and yellow squash) – finishing with the onion, capers, seasonings, oil and lemon juice

Top with shaved or shredded cheese, let rest for 20 minutes or so, and serve. Ours probably rested on the counter for an hour, then at least that long in Mike and Susan’s fridge before we made our way over. Taken out to come to room-ish temp a bit before the chicken was done and accompanied by some really lovely red wine (thanks, guys); we hardly missed the potatoes…

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