Grilled Summer Squash Recipe with Garlic Chili Crisp

Eric Ginsburg

Popular Chef William Dissen shares one of his favorite grilling recipes, and a garlicky chili crisp to top it off.

Vegetables shouldn't be boring, or an afterthought. With Chef William Dissen's grilled summer squash with blistered sungold tomatoes with homemade garlic chili crisp, the summer's produce bounty can take center stage.

Dissen — a celebrated chef, restaurant owner, and 2024 James Beard Award semifinalist based in Asheville, North Carolina — published his first cookbook last week. In new cookbook, Thoughtful Cooking: Recipes Rooted in the New South, he includes a broad range of veggie recipes.

Courtesy Grilled Summer Squash Recipe Photo

This grilled summer squash jumped out at me in particular for it's seeming simplicity that actually pulls from a deep reservoir of ingredients.

"This is one of my go-tos when squash are plentiful in our garden or the weekly CSA box," Dissen writes in Thoughtful Cooking. "Here we are simply grilling fresh squash and dressing it with a homemade spicy garlic chili crisp."

You could just use store-bought chili crisp. (It's actually in the news thanks to celebrity chef David Chang.) But Dissen's book teaches us how to make our own, and there are a few reasons to go that route.

First, it's shelf stable, meaning one-time effort will pay off far into the future.

Second, who among us doesn't love that moment when you present people with a lovingly prepared meal, and they ask where you got something, and you smirk and say you made it?

"Oh, this?" you say in your most coquettish voice.

Come on, that's gold.

But really, it's deeper than a sense of pride and accomplishment. It allows you to tweak the recipe exactly to your palate, or your family's (chosen or otherwise). You can use fresh ingredients and know exactly what's in it.

And it also aligns with the ethos that Dissen is trying to put forward with this cookbook — that making food shouldn't just be all about hacks and shortcuts and how quickly you can get something on the table.

That's a necessity some of the time, yes. But what if we slowed down and connected — with ourselves, with the ingredients, with the people around us? What if we really tuned in and were present in the current moment? That's what Thoughtful Cooking asks of us. That is, really, what it's all about. 

Below: William Dissen foraging for ingredients. All photos by Johnny Autry.

Courtesy Photo of Chef William Dissen Foraging

So if you want or need a recipe that's fast, we've got that. But if you can take a second to slow down, to marinate, to live, Dissen's recipe that he's graciously sharing with us here is for you. 

"This stuff is all the rage currently," he says of the chili crunch, "but it’s worth the hype: spicy, garlicky, crunchy, and full of flavor and umami. You’ll want to put it on everything from your eggs in the morning to an afternoon popcorn snack to a dinnertime bowl of soup that needs an extra kick. The recipe makes more than you’ll need for this meal, so enjoy the extra and kick it up a notch!"

Okay, enough about the chili crisp — just look at this squash! Summer is the easiest time to eat in season, and the grill is one of our favorite ways to cook. It feels more visceral. 

"When you’re on the go all day and need to get dinner on the table, the grill is your friend," Dissen writes. "That’s where this flavorful side dish comes in."

So if you're short on time, make the chili crisp ahead. Then when you've dragged the grill into the driveway or you have friends lounging in the backyard, you can quickly whip up the summer squash with sungold tomatoes and add a healthy heap!

Courtesy Grilled Summer Squash Recipe Picture

About the Ingredients

Not gonna lie, I Googled "tamari" while first looking at this recipe. It's a form of soy sauce with no added wheat.

I also asked Dissen why use both minced garlic and dried minced garlic.

They bring different things to the chili crisp, he told me — "Texture from the dried garlic and fresh bold flavor from the fresh garlic," as he put it.

The dried chilis are, of course, what really define this crisp. If you don't have them on hand, you might be tempted to skimp on using all three varieties. Of course, there's nothing wrong with experimentation, but I suggest sticking with Dissen's mixture at least on the first attempt to get the full sense of what this star chef's brain can deliver.

As Dissen writes in the book, you can make more than you need and put it on a lot of different things, including mixing it with mayo and slathering it on a sandwich or fried chicken.

"Chili crisp is definitely spicy, so start with a little and work your way up," he recommends. "It’s addictive, and you’ll be surprised how much your tolerance will grow and how much more of it you’ll want to spoon on everything you eat."

Gear You'll Need

To properly make this recipe, you'll need a couple of kitchen tools (besides the grill, of course):

  • Sauté pan
  • Slotted spoon
  • Paper towels
  • Fine mesh strainer
  • Medium mixing bowl
  • Airtight container (for storing extra chili crisp up to 6 months)
  • Large bowl
  • Platter (for serving)

If you have these things on hand, you're good to go!

If you love this recipe, you should also try Chef Dissen's grilled plums with spiced mascarpone recipe — from the cover of the same cookbook!

Courtesy Grilled Plums with Spiced Mascarpone Recipe Image

Our thanks to Chef William Stark Dissen for allowing us to share this recipe from his book, Thoughtful Cooking, published by Countryman Press. All photos by Johnny Autry.

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Grilled Summer Squash Recipe with Garlic Chili Crisp

    4 Servings

Ingredients

Chili Crisp:
  • 1 2/3 cups Blended Oil
  • 6 tablespoons Minced Garlic
  • 3 tablespoons Minced Shallot
  • 9 Dried Arbol Chilies, roughly chopped
  • 2 Dried Ancho Chiles, roughly chopped
  • 1 Dried Guajillo Pepper, roughly chopped
  • 4 tablespoons Fresh Ginger Root, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Tamari
  • 1 tablespoon Aleppo Pepper
  • 2 Star Anises
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick
  • 1 tablespoon Granulated Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon Cumin Seeds
  • 4 tablespoons Minced Dried Garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Mushroom Powder
  • 1 pinch of Kosher Salt
Squash:
  • 1 1/2-2 pounds Summer Squashes, cut in half lengthwise
  • 3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt, plus extra to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper, plus extra to taste
  • 1 cup Sungold Tomatoes
  • 1 Lemon, cut in half

Directions

GARLIC CHILI CRISP

  1. Place the oil in a large sauté pan and set over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the garlic and shallots, and cook, stirring frequently, until golden and crisp, 2 to 3 minutes Watch carefully to prevent burning. Remove the garlic and shallots from the pan using a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper towel–-lined plate to drain.
  2. Add the arbol, ancho, and guajillo chilies and cook until crisp and aromatic, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the chilies from the pan with the slotted spoon and transfer to the plate to drain.
  3. Decrease the heat to low and wait 3 to 4 minutes to allow the oil to cool slightly. Very carefully place the ginger, tamari, Aleppo pepper, star anise, cinnamon stick, sugar, cardamom, cumin, and garlic into the oil and simmer 10 to 12 minutes to infuse the oil. Strain through a fine mesh strainer and reserve the oil.
  4. Roughly chop the fried shallots and garlic and transfer to a mixing bowl. Finely chop the fried chilies and add them to the mixing bowl. Add the reserved oil and mushroom powder. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt as necessary. Transfer to an airtight container and keep at room temperature for up to 6 months.

SQUASH

  1. Preheat a grill to medium-high heat.
  2. Place the squash in a large bowl and add the oil, salt, and pepper and toss to evenly coat. Allow any excess oil to drain from the squash and place cut side down onto the hot grill. Cook until the squash has grill marks, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn the squash 90 degrees and continue to cook 2 to 3 minutes. Turn the squash 90 degrees one last time and cook, until the squash is golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the squash to a platter and set aside.
  3. Place a sauté pan over high heat and heat 4 minutes. Place the tomatoes in the pan and cook until charred on one side, about 4 minutes. Turn the tomatoes and cook on the other side until charred, about 4 minutes.
  4. Transfer the tomatoes to the platter with the squash. Generously spoon the garlic chili crisp over the vegetables, squeeze the lemon juice over the vegetables, and serve immediately.

 

Our thanks to Chef William Stark Dissen for allowing us to share this recipe from his book, Thoughtful Cooking, published by Countryman Press. All photos by Johnny Autry.

Notes

From Chef William Dissen: "Chili crisp is definitely spicy, so start with a little and work your way up. It’s addictive, and you’ll be surprised how much your tolerance will grow and how much more of it you’ll want to spoon on everything you eat. I love to stir it into mayonnaise to spice up a sandwich at lunchtime. It’s also a winner spooned over top of fried chicken. Thank me later!"

Source: Originally published in "Thoughtful Cooking" by William Stark Dissen
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Originally published in "Thoughtful Cooking" by William Stark Dissen
Cooking Method:
Grilling
Category:
Summer
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Related Recipes:
Grilling Recipes, Squash Recipes, Summer Recipes, Cookbook Recipes, Garlic Recipes, Tomato Recipes, Grilled Recipes
Recipe Yields:
4 Servings
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Cook Time:
Total Time:
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Author: Eric Ginsburg
Source: Originally published in "Thoughtful Cooking" by William Stark Dissen
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes

Nutrition Facts

Servings Per Recipe 4

Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat 78
Calories 143

% Daily Value*
15%
Total Fat 10g
4%
  Saturated Fat 1g
12%
Sodium 284mg
4%
Total Carbohydrate 13g
2%
  Dietary Fiber 1g
  Sugars 1g
1%
Protein 1g

* Percent Daily Value are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
** Nutrition Facts are estimated based on ingredients and data provided by Fat Secret. Please consult a doctor if you have special dietary needs.

Eric Ginsburg is the Editor of Food Fanatic. He's served as an editor at three newspapers and written for a wide range of publications, including Bon Appétit, Serious Eats, Wine Enthusiast, Southern Living, and Eater Carolinas. He lives in Raleigh, North Carolina. Follow him on Instagram.

Eric Ginsburg

About Eric

Eric Ginsburg is the Editor of Food Fanatic. He's served as an editor at three newspapers and written for a wide range of publications, including Bon Appétit, Serious Eats, Wine Enthusiast, Southern Living, and Eater Carolinas. He lives in Raleigh, North Carolina. Follow him on Instagram @eric_ginsburg.

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