Monday, May 14, 2012

Summer Vegetable Gratin

Gratin 13

I seriously live for summer produce.  I love this time of year because the farmer’s market is bursting with fresh zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, green beans, basil, blueberries, peaches, watermelon (I could go on and on!).  I can’t wait ‘til Saturday so I can head downtown to pick up all of it (I read that there were peaches this past Saturday!!!!!!).

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I made this summer vegetable gratin a few years back for my dad (I love cooking for him…he’s great for my culinary “self esteem”…he always loves everything I cook!). 

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I recently wrote about my mom’s influence on my healthy eating habits.  But my dad was a great role model too!  He eats healthier than any dad I know (this wasn’t always the case…he was not a healthy eater as a kid!).  Two things I love because of him are salmon (really any fish) and oatmeal (I love staying at his house and waking up to a yummy bowl of fruit & oatmeal).

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This recipe takes a little bit of planning ahead (you have to salt/drain the tomatoes and squash to extract the excess moisture)…but it’s so worth it!  The flavors are summery and fresh.  The parmesan-bread crumb topping adds the perfect crunch.  And the tomatoes, basil, and thyme make the whole thing taste almost lasagna-like.

So head to your local farmer’s market this weekend and give this recipe a try!

Gratin 12

Summer Vegetable Gratin adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

makes 8 servings

4 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 pound zucchini, ends trimmed and sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices (see note)
1 pound summer squash (yellow), ends trimmed and sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices (see note)
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes (about 3 large), sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 medium onions, halved lengthwise and sliced thin pole to pole (about 3 cups)
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 cup panko (or other bread crumbs…homemade maybe!)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

Toss zucchini and yellow squash slices with 1 teaspoon salt in large bowl; transfer to colander set over bowl. Let stand until at least 3 tablespoons of liquid has been released, about 45 minutes. Arrange slices on triple layer paper towels (or a clean kitchen towel…go green!); cover with another triple layer paper towels (or another clean kitchen towel). Firmly press each slice to remove as much liquid as possible.

While the squash is draining in the colander, place tomato slices in single layer on double layer paper towels (or a clean kitchen towel) and sprinkle evenly with 1/2 teaspoon salt; let stand 30 minutes. Place second double layer paper towels (kitchen towel) on top of tomatoes and press firmly to dry tomatoes.

Meanwhile, heat 2 teaspoons oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add onions, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened and dark golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Set onions aside.

Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 13- by 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.

Combine garlic, 3 tablespoons oil, remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and thyme in small bowl. In large bowl, toss zucchini and summer squash in half of oil mixture, then pour into greased baking dish (arranging into a flat-ish layer…no need to be perfect).

Arrange caramelized onions in even layer over squash. Slightly overlap tomato slices in single layer on top of onions. Spoon remaining garlic-oil mixture evenly over tomatoes.

Bake until vegetables are tender and tomatoes are starting to brown on edges, 40 to 45 minutes.

Combine bread crumbs, 2 teaspoons oil, and Parmesan in medium bowl. Remove baking dish from oven and increase heat to 450 degrees. Sprinkle bread-crumb mixture evenly on top of tomatoes. Bake gratin until bubbling and cheese is lightly browned, 5 to 10 minutes. Sprinkle with basil and let sit at room temperature 10 minutes before serving.

Per serving – 148 calories, 9.5 g fat (2 g saturated), 13 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 4.8 g protein (exchanges: 2 fat, 2 vegetable)

Notes – try to buy zucchini and yellow squash of roughly the same diameter (you could use just one or the other); serve the gratin alongside grilled fish or meat (I ate it as a main course with a sunny side up egg on top)

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