July 7, 2011

Summer Squash Gratin

I've never cared much for summer squash (yellow or zucchini). I ignore recipes that feature them and shy away from restaurant dishes that include them. But then I tried my CSA's summer squash and while I wouldn't say that I love them, I do like them. A lot. They were tender and delicate; my knife effortlessly sliced through them.

After being out of town for the holiday weekend, I had a bunch of vegetables to use up before they went bad. I decided I would try to make a gratin. I reviewed Mark Bittman's section on gratins in How To Cook Everything Vegetarian and I did a couple quick google searches. Then I decided I would just make it up as I went along. And I have to say I was pleased with the results!

Summer Squash Gratin
Serves 3 as a main dish, more as a side

This is easily adaptable for however many vegetables you have and whatever variety of vegetables you may have. I used a large Le Creuset oval baking dish because I had a lot of vegetables to use. The one thing (or at least the one thing I can think of at this moment) that would make this even better would be to caramelize the onions and leeks before adding them to the dish.

Extra virgin olive oil
1 sweet onion, cut in half through the root and sliced
2 baby leeks, washed well and cut into rounds
1 sweet potato, diced
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons garlic butter
Couple tablespoons tarragon leaves
3 small yellow summer squash, ends trimmed and sliced
1 zucchini, ends trimmed and sliced
1-2 cups breadcrumbs (I used packaged seasoned Italian breadcrumbs - panko or homemade breadcrumbs probably would have been better)
Grated pecorino romano (if I had had Parmigiano-Reggiano, I would have used that instead)
10 or more anise hyssop leaves, cut into chiffonade
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

1. Preheat the oven to 375.

2. Combine the onion, leeks, sweet potato and a couple tablespoons of olive oil in the baking dish. Season with salt and pepper. Should you have garlic butter sitting in the fridge, feel free to throw a couple tablespoons on top of the veggies. Scatter some tarragon leaves over the vegetables.

3. Layer the squash and zucchini over the bottom layer of vegetables. Sprinkle the bread crumbs, cheese, anise hyssop leaves, more salt and pepper and some olive oil over the top. Bake for 30 minutes until starting to brown. Remove from the oven and scatter some butter cubes over the top. Bake for another 10 or so minutes until all the vegetables are tender and the top is brown.

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