I’m writing to you today from one of my favorite Paris coffee shops. I’m a little loopy from jet lag and an unsuccessful attempt to drug myself to sleep with cold medicine last night. And coffee. Lots of coffee! (In retrospect, I can see this maybe wasn't my best plan ever.)
Anyhoo. I’m just popping in with a quick recipe for you today. I don’t know what it’s like where you live but it’s hot as satan’s attic here in Paris. I was a little sad to be leaving summer behind when I boarded my flight in Seattle last Sunday. But my fears were unfounded--summer has accompanied me across the Atlantic and is still in full swing.
So. I have another easy-peasy summertime recipe for you this week: Grilled Zucchini with Ricotta, Honey and Toasted Barley.
You might recognize this from my post on the pop-up dinner I hosted with my friend Kyle a few weeks ago. This was my favorite dish of the night. It’s fitting that I’m sending it to you from Paris since it’s my adaptation of an amazing dish I had here at Au Passage last May. The beauty of this dish--like everything served at Au Passage--lies in its simplicity and first-rate, seasonal ingredients. And it hits all the right summer notes with its smoky grilled squash, creamy ricotta, chile-spiked honey and nutty toasted barley. (Whatever you do, promise me you won’t skip the barley! It makes the dish.)
Alright. I’m off to wander the streets of Paris in an over-medicated, over-caffeinated, sleep-deprived daze. It should be an interesting day!
I’ll be back soon with some of my favorite things to do and see here in Paris. XO!
Grilled Zucchini with Ricotta, Honey and Toasted Barley
- ½ cup hulled barley (not pearl barley)
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Flaky sea salt
- 4 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise
- 6-8 small pattypan squash, halved (yellow summer squash works, too)
- 3 cups best-quality ricotta
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 teaspoons aleppo pepper
- Juice from ½ a small lemon
- ¼ cup loosely packed mint leaves
*Note: The toasted barley and aleppo honey can be made several hours in advance.
Place the barley in a fine-mesh sieve and rinse under cold running water to remove the excess starch. Place in a small bowl and cover with cold water. Set aside to soak for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 325°. Drain the barley and place it on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Toss it with olive oil to coat lightly and sprinkle generously with salt. Roast, stirring often, until the barley is golden and crunchy, 25-30 minutes. To determine if the barley is done, take a grain out and taste it; you want it to be crunchy like a partially-popped grain of popcorn. It will seem like the barley is never going to cook through, then in the last few minutes of roasting, it turns crunchy and delicious. So watch it carefully. Set aside to cool.
While the barley is roasting, make the aleppo honey: Place the honey and aleppo in small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the honey has loosened, 1-2 minutes.
Heat a grill or grill pan to high heat. Place the halved squash in a large bowl. Toss with olive oil to coat and salt generously. Cook the squash, turning as needed until it has nice char marks, and has softened a bit. The exact time will vary depending on the size of your squash, but 5 minutes is a good starting point. The pattypan squash will take a little longer than the zucchini. You want the squash to remain firm, so be sure not to overcook it. Set aside to cool slightly.
To assemble, cut the zucchini on the bias into 2-3 inch pieces. spread the ricotta onto a serving platter and salt lightly. Arrange the squash over the ricotta. Salt lightly and squeeze a little lemon juice over the squash. Drizzle with some of the honey and sprinkle with the barley. Tear the mint leaves if large and scatter them over the top before serving.
Makes 4-6 servings.