Washington D.C. —
Grilled Pumpkin Slices with
Makes about 40 slices
(6 to 8 servings)
The simplicity of this dish lends itself to improvisation. For a little crunch, sprinkle toasted pine nuts on top of the finished slices. For color, top with a little finely chopped parsley. For DIY crostini, serve with a plate of goat cheese and crackers. If you don't like spicy, don't use the chili powder; the flavor of the grilled pumpkin, oil and salt is divine all by itself.
The directions call for peeling the pumpkin. If you leave the skin on, the slices are more likely to hold their shape on the grill, but then you need to trim away the peel before serving the pumpkin.
MAKE AHEAD: The pumpkin slices can be grilled several hours in advance. Cover in plastic wrap and keep at room temperature. If you grill them a day in advance, do not add the olive oil, salt or chili powder. Refrigerate the grilled slices in a sealed container and serve at room temperature. Apply the oil and seasoning just before serving.
From Smoke Signals columnist Jim Shahin.
1 small (1 1/2 to 2 pounds) pumpkin
1/3 cup best-quality, fresh-tasting extra-virgin olive oil, or as needed
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ancho chili powder
Prepare the charcoal grill for direct heat. Light the charcoal or wood briquettes; when the briquettes are ready, distribute them evenly across the cooking area. For a medium-hot fire, you should be able to hold your hand about 6 inches above the coals for 4 to 5 seconds. Have a spray bottle ready for taming flare-ups. Lightly coat the grill rack with vegetable oil and place it on the grill.
Carefully cut off the top and bottom of the pumpkin. Cut the pumpkin in half, from top to bottom. Scrape out all seeds and fiber from the cavity. Use a potato peeler to remove the peel.
Cut the peeled pumpkin into slices about 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick. Place them on a cutting board or plate. Brush lightly with some of the olive oil.
Place the slices on the grill grate; cook for about 2 minutes on each side; they should turn a caramel color with light char and be tender enough to be easily pierced with a fork (but not falling-apart tender).
Using tongs or a spatula (or both, depending on what you find works best for you), remove the slices from the grill to a platter.
(At this point, the slices can be cooled and refrigerated for up to a day; see headnote.)
Drizzle the olive oil on them. Sprinkle with salt, then chili powder. Serve warm, or cover with plastic wrap and serve later in the day at room temperature.