In our culture meals are generally built around a protein of some sort, usually meat. But at this time of year when the farmers’ markets and roadside stands are overflowing with the bounty of the countryside vegetables should play the starring role. This dish combines lovely yellow summer squash with a variety of colorful small bell peppers. I serve it simply with grilled pork chops and roasted potatoes for a nice summer evening meal.
1 medium or 2 small summer squash, about ½ pound (zucchini would be good too)
2 or 3 small bell peppers of various colors
½ medium onion, thinly sliced
3 or 4 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
4 or 5 fresh basil leaves cut into a chiffonnade[i]
1 bay leaf
1 Tbsp. olive oil
½ tsp. kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 boneless pork chops, about 6 ounces each
2 medium firm white or yellow potatoes, about 10 ounces total
More olive oil, salt, and pepper
Slice the squash crosswise into ⅜-inch thick slices. Halve the larger slices so that all the pieces are about the same size. Halve the peppers lengthwise, remove the seed, stem, and ribs then cut crosswise into ⅜-inch wide strips.
Heat the olive oil in a sauce pan over medium low heat. Add the onions and sweat gently for about 4 minutes. Do not allow them to brown. Add the garlic and cook for a minute or so until fragrant. Add the bell peppers and continue to cook gently until slightly softened, about a further 4 minutes. Add the squash, basil, salt, bay leaf, and a generous grind of black pepper. (Do not be tempted to omit the salt. It is necessary to draw the moisture out of the squash. ) Cover and simmer over low heat for about 40 minutes. If desired, uncover, break up the squash with a wooden spoon, turn the heat up to medium-high, and allow to concentrate.
While the squash is cooking, prepare a charcoal grill for two-zone cooking over high heat.
Scrub and eye the potatoes. Quarter them lengthwise and toss with about ½ Tbsp. olive oil and a good pinch of kosher salt. About 20 minutes before the squash are done, but the potatoes on the cooler side of the grill. Turn occasionally.
Trim any visible fat from the pork chops, pat dry, rub with a bit of olive oil, and sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper on both sides. When the potatoes have been on the grill for about 15 minutes, put the pork chops on over the hot coals. Grill for about 4 minutes on each side, ideally to an internal temperature of 145°. Let stand for a few minutes before serving.
To make a chiffonnade, lay the basil leaves on atop the other, roll tightly, and cut across the roll into ⅛-inch shreds.