I love the taste of grilled winter squash and it is so easy to do. Cut them open and scrape out the seeds (like a pumpkin), slice, toss with a little oil and throw them on the grill. Grilling caramelizes the sugars at the surface of the squash so you get a sweet, smoky taste. Combine the soft, sweet squash with delicately crisp sage leaves is just short of miraculous. 🙂
Crispy sage leaves are one of my favorite things to snack on. I first had them in a restaurant when I lived in Seattle. It was during that time when “clever” chefs were sending out popcorn to the table instead of bread… oh, the ’90’s. This restaurant in Bell Town upped the ante when they sent out a basket of warm salty sage leaves. It was such a pleasant and welcomed surprise and so much better than popcorn!
Grilled Winter Squash with Warming Spices
and Crispy Sage Leaves
serves eight to ten
5 pounds winter squash
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Crispy sage leaves (recipe follows)
Set grill for direct cooking over medium heat. brush and oil grates before grilling.
Slice squashes in half and scoop out the seeds (reserve if you want to roast them) and cut into 1-inch slices. Combine the oil, spices, salt, and pepper and toss until slices are well-coated.
Place on grill/grid and cook for 15 to 18 minutes, tuning at least once halfway through cooking. NOTE: Keep an eye on these especially if you are unsure of where the hot spots are on your grill. As I mentioned above, there is a lot of sugar in squash and they can burn quickly. Transfer to a serving platter and top with crispy sage leaves.
CRISPY SAGE LEAVES
1 bunch sage leaves, removed from the larger stem, must be DRY
Vegetable oil, for frying
Heat 1-inch of oil in a medium skillet to 350°F -or- until a cube of bread can be fried golden in 5 minutes -or- until the tip of a wooden spoon bubbles in the oil -or- until a drop of water splatters… I think you get it. Drop sage leaves in batches and fry for 1 to 2 minutes… they will go from sage green to brighter sage green and then start to get a little golden. Remove them with a slotted spoon right when they just start to get a little golden at the edges, but don’t let them color. Drain in a single layer on paper towels. If you drain them in a pile they will steam and get soggy. Sprinkle with a little fine sea salt and enjoy!