Friday, June 28, 2013

#FennelFridayCookingClub...Featuring Zen-Sational Grilled Zucchini & Summer Squash with Goat Cheese and Balsamic Reduction

For this month’s #FennelFriday roundup, we’re featuring vegetables and the very exotic Zen-Sational seasoning from Fennel Pollen Ranch. Zen-Sational is a tasty, exotic mix of ingredients: fennel pollen, sumac, seasame seeds, curry powder and other herbs and spices. The flavor reminds me a bit of za’atar, my favorite Middle Eastern seasoning blend. It’s a fantastic spice blend for flavoring fresh Summer vegetables. For some reason, zucchini immediately came to mind when I tasted this seasoning direct from the tin. That got the creative wheels rolling. Since it’s Grilling Week here at The Weekend Gourmet, I wanted to grill my veggies. From there, I let my imagination run wild and came up with my Zen-Sational Grilled Zucchini & Summer Squash with Goat Cheese and Balsamic Reduction.

For a bit of color contrast, I decided to grill rounds of inexpensive in-season zucchini and yellow summer squash. After the rounds were grilled, I topped them with crumbled mild goat cheese and the Zen-sational seasoning. Just before serving, I drizzled a homemade balsamic reduction over the top. This simple and versatile dish tastes equally good served warm or at room temperature, and it can be a side dish or  even a light al freso Summer dinner.

Zen-Sational Grilled Zucchini & Summer Squash with Goat Cheese and Balsamic Reduction
A Weekend Gourmet Original
 Step 1: Add 1/3 cup of good-quality balsamic to a small non-stick saucepan over med-high heat. Bring to a rapid boil and cook until the balsamic is reduced in half. This will take about 15 minutes, which gives you a pocket of time to prep the rest of the dish.

Step 2: Heat a grill pan or outdoor grill. Slice one zucchini and one yellow summer squash into ½-inch rounds, and toss with 1-2 tbs. olive oil to lightly coat. Grill the zucchini and squash over med-high heat for 2-3 minutes per side. You want to see grill marks, and the zucchini and squash should be crisp-tender.

Step 3: Place the grilled zucchini and summer squash on a serving platter. Sprinkle with some of the Zen-Sational seasoning, then crumble 1/3 cup of goat cheese over the top. Just before serving, use a spoon to drizzle the balsamic reduction over the top. You may not use all of the drizzle, but any left is fabulous drizzled over vanilla ice cream for dessert. Trust me on this!
That’s it! This is a quick and super-simple dish to whip up, and it’s very healthy to boot! I loved the slight smoky flavor that grilling the veggies brings. The Zen-Sational seasoning provided a warm, exotic flavor that I absolutely loved against the slightly bitter vegetables. The goat cheese was creamy, and the balsamic drizzle was perfectly tart-sweet. Together, these flavors and textures worked really nicely. If you have some, I think that finely chopped pistachios would be a really nice addition too. Zen-Sational and all Fennel Pollen Ranch items can be purchased at the Fennel Pollen Ranch website.

Disclosure: Fennel Pollen Ranch provided me with a container of their Zen-Sational seasoning to facilitate this post. The opinions expressed are my own, however.

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