Several weeks ago, we visited New Orleans and ate at a tiny but exquisite restaurant in the mid-city section of New Orleans. All the food arrived at the table in a beautiful presentation. We tried the nightly special: grilled baby summer squash served with hummus, feta cheese and pumpkin seeds. It was a wonderful combination of flavors and textures. I decided to make my own version of our supper entree.
New Orleans is full of tiny but charming restaurants with creative chefs and menus. The restaurants are tucked in the most unassuming locations; often in city neighborhoods. The patrons are a combination of local residents and tourists who find the restaurants. This restaurant is called 1000 Figs; it is the center building, located at 3141 Ponce De Leon just off Esplanade Avenue.
The owners are Theresa Galli and Gavin Cady. They operate “Fat Falafel”, a food truck which specializes in falafels (what else). After several years they opened the unique restaurant, 1000 Figs. The owners promise to set aside some funds from each sale with the goal of planting 1000 figs in the city. A noble project!The tiny restaurant only has about six inside tables–and there are no reservations. The tables flow onto the patio in front of the restaurant and into the coffee house next door. We ate outside. Just before us, the patrons had brought their quite large, beautiful setter-type dog along who sat quietly at their feet. (We could never bring our extremely friendly but nosy dachshunds!)Adding to the atmosphere is the fact that the silverware and napkins are tucked in a drawer under the table. Set your own table and order food at the register counter. But back to the menu….. The menu changes with the seasons and foods available locally. Features on the menu, of course, are falafels with lots of dipping sauces and pickled vegetables. The roasted Brussels spouts are a favorite — if you never liked this vegetable, you will love their version. Tonight we ordered baby summer squash.
My Version of Grilled Summer Squash
My Community Supported Agricultural (CSA) basket contained lots of summer squash, so this made a great opportunity to use it. When prepared properly, summer yellow squash is really delicious. I don’t consider these to be “baby” squash; but then I can’t be too particular; I’m using what is available–the recipe turned out just fine.
Once the squash were browned, I turned them over, cut side up, sprinkled more seasoning on the squash and cooked a few more minutes.
I served the squash with homemade hummus (quite an adventure and another story), feta cheese, pumpkins seeds and pita bread. The greens are Swiss chard from my garden–any green lettuce will do. The squash entree was delicious!
Braised Summer Squash
- 2 small yellow squash
- canola oil
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp granulated garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp white pepper
- 1/2 cup mixed greens, lettuce for garnish
- 1/2 cup feta cheese
- 2 Tbsp pumpkin seeds
- 1/2 cup purchased hummus
- olive oil
- 1 pita bread
Method and Steps
- Add canola oil to a large large non-stick heavy skillet; heat to medium-high heat.
- Wash and dry the squash. Cut the yellow squash in half lengthwise. Place squash in hot oil, cut side down.
- Make a blend of the seasoning ingredients. Sprinkle some of the seasoning blend over the squash. You won’t use all the seasoning.
- Fry the squash for about 5 minutes; turn down heat to medium to avoid burning.
- Turn the squash over, cut side up, and sprinkle with more seasoning.
- Cook several additional minutes. The squash should be tender and not mushy.
Place some of the mixed greens or lettuce two plates. Add two squash halves to each plate, cut side up. Sprinkle with feta cheese and pumpkin seeds. Place hummus on plate with a small amount of olive oil and few sprinkles of paprika; cut pita bread into small triangles, place on plate. Serve.
And just a disclaimer here. The recipe, seasoning ingredients and preparation method for the squash are my own. I’ve not made any attempt to copy 1000 Fig’s squash as I didn’t ask what was in the preparation. The restaurant uses feta cheese and pumpkin seeds; the other side accompaniments are my own. Their dish is much more elegantly prepared and served.
If you are visiting New Orleans; I recommend this restaurant. First check the days and times; the restaurant is closed some days of the week. You are in for a treat of local in-season foods, creatively prepared.
And I’ll give my adventures making falafels and hummus in upcoming posts!