One of the best things to do with a pile of summer squash is to put in on the grill! We love the smokey, blackened, charred flavor of this grilled zucchini salad with dollops of lemony ricotta and plenty of fresh basil. It’s perfect for eating on the deck on a warm day.
Every year my neighbor sets out a pile of squash plants in her garden. And every year the vines explode with summer squash for a few weeks, leaving her to put out baskets of zucchini for the neighborhood
Sometimes she gives me a GIANT one and I make zucchini feta fritters or tender biscuits. Other times I get some small ones and it’s time to cook up zucchini and sausage or kolokithopita (Greek filo pie!).
This year I decided to develop a delicious grilled salad with creamy ricotta and a lemony dressing.
What do you need?
- Zucchini – Either all green or yellow or a mix of the two. You just want a thin skinned summer squash here.
- Ricotta – About one cup of whole milk style.
- Lemon – You need both the zest and the juice here!
- Basil – Fresh basil torn over the top of the salad is both tasty and beautiful.
- Red Onion – Nice thick slices so they don’t burn. This adds both color and flavor.
How to Make This
To make grilled zucchini salad, slice up summer squash and toss with salt and olive oil. Grill the squash along with red onion until cooked through and charred. Mix together ricotta with lemon zest and olive oil. Arrange everything on a plate and drizzle over dressing.
1. Prep the Veggies
Get the squash sliced (1/4 inch is nice) and the onion (sliced about the same). Then toss each with salt and olive oil. They can rest while you heat the grill.
2. Mix the Ricotta
First, what sort of ricotta do you have?
If you have super creamy traditional style (no gums, no stabilizers), you can just mix this with a spoon.
However, if you have the more standard American supermarket style, I would suggest whipping it first to deal with the graininess. You can do that with either a hand mixer or a food processor (for extra creamy whipped cheese).
Okay, now it’s creamy!
At this point mix the cheese with olive oil, salt and pepper, and lemon zest. Done!
Tip: If you are near Rhode Island, I am a fan of Narragansett Creamery Ricotta. (Not being paid! Just a fan. 🙂 )
3. Mix the Dressing
Pretty simple, just whisk up the dressing ingredients in a bowl.
While you are heating the grill, put in your grilling basket (this is my favorite one!) and get it HOT. Then add the squash and grill covered for 5 minutes.
Turn and stir, then add the onions. Keep cooking, checking every so often, until both the squash and onion are nicely cooked.
Tip: I use a gas grill which gets fairly hot, but not super hot. You may need to adjust the time or temperature on your grill to get everything nicely charred but not burnt.
Lay out the cooked vegetables on a platter. Dollop the ricotta around in spoonfuls and then pour over the dressing. Tear up the basil and scatter it over.
While this salad is best assembled just before serving, some prep can be done ahead.
The zucchini and onion can be sliced several hours ahead and salted an hour before you are going to cook. They can also be grilled an hour or two ahead so long as they are not put in the refrigerator (that screws up the flavor and texture).
Both the ricotta and the dressing can be made the day before.
If you try my recipe for Grilled Zucchini Salad, I would love to hear from you in the comments with your experience and rating! And I’m happy to answer any questions you might have.
– Stay Safe, Annemarie
Grilled Zucchini Salad with Lemon Ricotta
- 2 medium zucchini, sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 1 large red onion, sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- kosher salt and black pepper
- 1 cup whole milk ricotta
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 small clove garlic, finely minced or grated
- kosher salt and black pepper
- In two bowls, toss the zucchini and onion with some olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Heat grill on high. Place a metal grill basket in the grill and get it hot.
- Mix together the ricotta with lemon zest, salt, and pepper.
- In a small bowl whisk together the dressing ingredients - olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper.
- Once the grill is hot, add the zucchini and cover the grill. Cook for 5 minutes.
- Stir the squash and turn over the slices. Then mix in the onions. Cover the grill and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until both the squash and onion are cooked through and charred in spots.
- Transfer the squash and onions to a serving plate. Dollop the ricotta around and pour over the dressing. Top with torn basil leaves. Serve.
- Squash: You can use all zucchini or a mix of yellow and green summer squash.
- Ricotta: If you are using standard supermarket ricotta with stabilizers (guar gum or similar), I would suggest whipping it in a food processor or with a hand mixer so that it will be very smooth and creamy.
- Serving: You can serve this hot from the grill, still warm, or at room temperature.