We joke often that all produce is perpetually in-season in southern California. But, clearly, that’s not really the case.
Summer squash, for instance, is just beginning its mighty reign at the area farmers’ markets. Relatively easy to grow and wildly productive, once its in season, its kind of everywhere you look and, usually, at a pretty nice price.
But what does one do with all that squash‽
Our suggestion—set up the grill and make yourself a summer squash puff pastry pizza. It’s easy and super-good.
All you need is an onion (we’ve been enjoying the Texas Sweets at the markets lately), three or so summer squashes (yellow or green, long or short or squat; whatever you like); a puff pastry, and option herbs to garnish (we used fresh garlic chives). Additional option—raw cashews for a cashew creme sauce.
Your first question, I’m assuming: What’s a puff pastry and where do I get one? Good question. Washington state’s Aussie Bakery‘s a good bet and what we used. They’re carried in the frozen foods section of most Whole Foods in Los Angeles area. I guess puff pastries are an Australian thing?
The second question you might have: How do I make a cashew creme? As long as you’ve got a blender, it’s stupidly easy…as this fine lady with agree. Our only comment would be to ideally soak for the longer period of time suggested—24 hours. It makes for a smoother, creamier creme/sauce in the end. As our friend, Isa, always says, ABS—Always Be Soaking.
But, yeah, essentially you blend soaked cashews at high speeds until smooth, making sure to watch your blender for any signs of stress or motor-burning. Nuts can be tough on blenders. When we make cashew cheeses and sauces, we usually start with as little water/liquid as possible to create a pretty pasty base. Then we freeze any excess so we’re free to make cheese or thinner sauces down the road. In this particular case, we thinned out a pre-blended cashew paste and added seasoning—salt, a little lemon juice, a garlic clove, some sesame oil for smokiness, and some ground pepper. And that was it. Then we set aside and prepped the rest.
First, make sure the pastry’s set out to thaw. Then, once thawed and able to be handled without breaking apart, carefully unroll it and place it on a pizza stone if you’ve got one; a pan if you don’t.
For the vegetables, we simply sliced the onion in half and placed face-down on our prepped charcoal grill; the squash we like crispy, so we thinly sliced pieces and marinated for a bit in olive oil with a little salt. Get the squash crispy but not totally burnt through; flip if necessary, but we didn’t really have to with how thinly we sliced the pieces. The onion should be flipped and blackened a bit. Once down, removed from the grill, slice the onion into ribbons, and set aside.
Now carefully place the stone or pan with the pastry on the grill and cover. Don’t go far—it’ll cook fast. And puff up, as you may have guessed. We were clearly unprepared.
Check the underside of the puffed pastry to see how it’s cooking. You want it to brown but not blacken. Once firm and golden-brown, carefully remove the stone/pan with the pastry from the grill and place on a heat-resitant surface or oven mitt. With a spatula, carefully flip the pastry over on the stone/pan. Now generously top the pastry with the vegetables and—again, carefully—slide the pastry from the stone/pan directly to the grill face. Cook and monitor closely to make sure the bottom doesn’t burn (it’ll cook pretty quickly).
Once done, remove by carefully transferring back to the stone/pan, sprinkle cut herbs overtop or use some kitchen scissors to cut them over the pizza. Then, if you’re using it, drizzle the cashew creme over the whole thing.
Done and done. Simple and delicious.
Need your greens and want to do some more grilling? Add a grilled salad. What’s that? I don’t know. We may have made it up. We just cut a couple cross-sections of red cabbage and grab some large kale leaves, grill each (the cabbage longer, usually), remove from heat, chop up, toss with a 1:1 mix of rice vinegar + sesame or olive oil, and add some fresh stuff if you like (we added chopped snow peas in this case). There you have it—grilled salad!