Last year (god January 2020 feels SO LONG AGO) the husband said he wanted to eat more vegetarian meals (just a fancy way of saying less meat). So I bought him this cookbook for Christmas 2019 and we proceeded to never cook anything out of it. This year I do want to eat more veggies, and with my braces it’s easier if they are cooked and soft. So I broke out this cookbook and set a resolution to make one recipe from it each week. This week, it was the summer vegetable gratin.
I needed 1 pound of both zucchini and yellow squash (aka summer squash), 1.5 pounds of tomatoes, some scallions (aka green onions) and actual onions.
Sliced the zucchini and summer squash into 1/4″ slices, tossed them with a teaspoon of salt, then let them drain for 45 minutes.
Sliced the tomatoes, sprinkled them with 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and left them on a paper towel covered cookie sheet for about 25 minutes.
Halved and sliced the onions thin, and sauteed them with a tablespoon of oil until they caramelized, about 20-25 minutes. This step was easier than I expected it to be, and I still burned a few of the onions. If I make this again, I’m going to make sure that I am stirring more frequently early on in the simmering.
I used a hand mixer to turn a thick slice of hearty white bread into crumbs and mixed it with a tablespoon of oil, a cup of grated Parmesan, and three scallions thinly sliced. Then I made the 3Tbsp/garlic/thyme/pepper mixture that would need to get mixed in with the veggies during assembly (note that I was still doing the onions while putting these two bowls together.
I tossed the drained zucchini and summer squash with half of the garlic mixture and laid it out in a 9×13 pan greased with a tablespoon of oil (I use my hand in a ziploc bag to spread the oil around). I forgot to take a picture of the layer of caramelized onions that went on next, then the layer of tomatoes, brushed with the remaining half of the garlic mixture. That all went into the oven at 400F for 40 minutes. Then I increased the temp to 450, took the pan out, and sprinkled the bread crumb/parmesan mixture on the top, and put it back into the hotter oven for 10 minutes.
Again I forgot to take a picture of the full finished product because we just dove into it but it looked really good. Here’s a shot of the cross section and you can see the layers.
Even with the steps intended to drain off some of the moisture inherent in the ingredients it still produced a fair amount of water. This did not detract from the amazing flavor of this dish. Between the amount of olive oil and salt and an entire cup of grated parmesan this dish had some very bold flavors. Usually dishes that I attempt like this come out bland but this was delicious. The husband and I had two helpings each and there are still two helpings left for lunch or dinner tomorrow.
The thing I liked the most about cooking this meal was that the recipe was already planned out in terms of time. If you did each step in succession, everything was prepared at the same time right down to the oven being preheated. Something that looked like it would take hours only took the 45 minutes that the recipe started with for salting and draining the veggies because you were doing everything else while you waited. That probably sounds intuitive to some, but I was just impressed with how the recipe was laid out so this happened automatically without me having to plan it all out to minimize the time I was standing in the kitchen.
If you are interested in this recipe you can purchase this cookbook at your local indie bookshop or find it at my January/February indie bookshop, Nowhere Books in San Antonio, TX.
Next week I’ll be making stuffed mushroom caps! Don’t forget to subscribe to get these entries straight to your email or follow me on Twitter for updates! (See sidebar for links.)
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