- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 16, 2005

My husband and one of his best friends were born in the same year, in the same month, within 24 hours of each other. They are both college professors, and their first children were born on the same day.

With so many parallels in their lives, it’s not surprising that they like to celebrate their birthdays together. So for many years now, we have planned an annual lobster supper on Cape Cod to honor the birthday boys.

We invite all our grown-up children (who jump at the chance to spend a day near the beach) and then plan the menu.

We always have lobster and corn on the cob, but the rest of the menu varies from one party to the next. This year, we began the night toasting with Bellinis (a combination of white peach puree and Italy’s famous sparkling wine, prosecco) while nibbling on white bean dip and a scallop seviche. The lobsters (glorious 4-pounders that served two persons each) and corn came next, along with grilled summer squash topped with feta and mint. For dessert, we baked a daiquiri cheesecake flavored with citrus and rum and brought it to the table topped with lit candles.

My co-chef chose the appetizers, and I provided recipes for the side dish and the dessert.

The squash turned out to be the sleeper hit of the evening. Prepared early in the day, it required no last-minute cooking. I cut thin, lengthwise slices of zucchini and yellow squash, then cooked both in a stove-top grill pan until they were softened and branded with grill marks. The squash can also be cooked on an outdoor grill.

Arranged in a spoke pattern on a serving platter and sprinkled with crumbled feta and fresh chopped mint, they made an attractive summer vegetable to serve at room temperature.

I used both yellow and green squash, but you could easily choose one or the other. The squash made a fine partner to lobster but would pair just as well with grilled lamb or chicken, baked salmon, or pan-seared veal.

At the end of the evening, when I looked over at the squash platter, it was empty. People had celebrated with extra servings.

Grilled summer squash with feta and mint

The squash can be prepared 4 hours ahead. Cover loosely with plastic wrap; leave at room temperature until serving.

4 6- to 7-inch zucchini, about 1 pounds total

4 6- to 7-inch yellow squash, about 1 pounds total

1/4 cup olive oil, plus a generous amount more for grilling the squash

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 cups (8 ounces) crumbled feta cheese

5 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves, plus extra sprigs for garnish, if desired

Cut off and discard stem ends of squash. Cut squash lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick (or slightly less) slices. Place slices in a shallow dish, drizzle with 1/4 cup oil, and toss until well coated on both sides. If needed, add more oil.

Generously oil a stove-top grill pan, and place it over medium high heat. When quite hot, lay enough squash on the grill to cook in a single layer. Cook about 3 minutes or until brown grill marks appear on the underside and squash begins to soften.

Turn squash with tongs and cook on the other side about 2 minutes more, until grill marks appear and squash is tender when pierced with a knife.

Drain slices on baking sheets lined with a double thickness of paper towel. Continue until all squash slices have been cooked, adding a little more oil to pan each time you add a new batch.

If you prefer, you can cook the squash on an outdoor grill. Oil a grill rack and arrange it 4 to 5 inches from heat source. Prepare grill for a medium fire. When ready, arrange enough slices to fit comfortably in a single layer on rack. Cook until under side is well seared and squash begins to soften, 3 minutes or longer.

Turn squash with tongs and cook on other sides until grill marks appear, 2 minutes or longer. Watch squash carefully because cooking time will vary depending on intensity of heat and type of grill used.

Drain on baking sheets lined with a double thickness of paper towel. Continue until all squash slices have been cooked.

Arrange squash slices on a serving platter in a spoke pattern. Salt and pepper them, then sprinkle with feta.

When ready to serve, sprinkle squash with chopped mint. Place a bouquet of mint sprigs in the center, if desired. Serve at room temperature. Makes 8 servings.


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