Summer produce is finally here and with it comes an abundance of summer
squashes. Bright yellow patty pan sporting little green caps, zebra-striped Mexican, billiard-ball shaped yellow and green Eight-Ball zucchini, and heirloom Persian squash just to name a few. Not being able to resist beautiful things, I usually buy more squash than I know what to do with.
Having done that again this Sunday, and being on a mission to waste nothing these days, I have been on the lookout for recipes that use a lot of summer squash and at the same time are easy and can be served as a main course. There are plenty of recipes that fit this bill out there, so that part of my task was easy. The bigger challenge was finding a recipe that would satisfy my twenty and twenty-one year old nephew and son, who are dedicated meat eaters, as well as my nineteen year old vegetarian daughter. For years I cooked two entrees, one for each camp, but lately I just don’t have the time, imagination, or energy for such variety.
Last night I stumbled on the perfect dish that made everyone at the table happy, and used up a load of squash as well. It was simple to prepare and there was even a little leftover to send off with my husband for lunch today. You can make your own breadcrumbs for the topping if you are so inclined. However, being that I want to simplify and don’t often have day old bread on hand, I used panko, Japanese breadcrumbs, which can be found in the Asian food section of most grocery stores. I used a mix of patty pan squash, Mexican squash and zucchini(one of each came to just over 1 ½ pounds) and the variety of colors made the dish even more appealing.
For organic squash check out Island Farms, Rancho mi Familia (our newest organic farm) and Berumen Farms. Traditionally grown squash can be found at Yang Farms, Fresno Evergreen, G&B Farms, and J&J Farms, just to name a few. Gama Farms and Zuckerman Farms both have a wide variety of potatoes to
choose from that will work in this recipe, and just about every farm has onions to offer. Finally, the fresh herbs you will need for this recipe can be found at Living Lettuce Farms, Scarborough Farms, Menos Farms, Yang Farms, and Fresno Evergreen.
For dessert how about a basket of fresh organic blackberries from Rancho mi Familia, our only organic blackberry grower, piled high with sweetened whipped cream!!! See you at the Market.
Summer Squash Gratin Recipe
(Adapted from Heidi Swanson’s
recipe on her blog 101cookbooks.com.)
Zest of one lemon
1 1/2 pounds summer squash or zucchini, sliced very thinly
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley or arugula leaves
1 large garlic clove, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
pinch of red pepper flakes
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 cups panko
1/2 pound Yukon gold, white creamer or other waxy potato sliced transparently thin
1 onion, sliced very thinly
3/4 cup grated goat gouda or other flavorful hard cheese such as Gruyere, sharp cheddar or Manchego grated on a box grater (or feta might be good!)
Preheat oven to 400F degrees and place a rack in the middle. Rub a 9x9 gratin pan (or equivalent baking dish) with a bit of olive oil and set aside.
Place the zucchini slices into a colander placed over a sink, toss with the sea salt and set aside for 10-15 minutes (to drain a bit) and go on to prepare the oregano
sauce and bread crumbs.
Make the sauce by pureeing the oregano, parsley or arugula, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt, red pepper flakes, and olive oil in a food processor or using a hand blender.
Make the breadcrumbs by melting the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook for a few minutes until the butter is wonderfully fragrant, and has turned brown. Wait two minutes, then stir the breadcrumbs into the browned
Add a tablespoon of olive oil to a large pan and saute the potato slices with the onions until they are just barely cooked through adding just a pinch or two of salt as you do so. You don’t want to overcook them here or they will fall
apart. They will finish cooking in the oven.
Transfer the squash to a large mixing bowl. Add the potatoes, two-thirds of the oregano sauce, the cheese and half of the bread-crumbs. Toss gently being careful not to break up the potatoes until everything is well coated. Taste the
mixture and add more salt or red pepper if needed.
Mix the lemon zest with the remaining sauce and set aside for finishing the dish later.
Transfer the mixture to the pan, top with the remaining crumbs, and bake for somewhere between 40 and 50 minutes. You don't want the zucchini to go to mush, but you need to be sure the potatoes are fully baked. If the breadcrumbs
start to get a little dark, remove the pan from the oven and cover with foil. Return it to the oven and continue to bake for another 10 minutes or so. Once done, remove the pan from the oven, and drizzle with the remaining oregano sauce and lemon zest sauce.
Serves about 8 as a side or 4 as a main course.