Alright, here’s the first of my CSA veggie exploits! Sort of a play off of a classic gratin., using squash, potatoes and tomatoes for a fun twist. We ate it as an entree with a spinach salad, but I think it’ll work better as a side dish. On to the recipe…
Squash Medley Gratin
Serves 4 as a side dish
1 medium zucchini, ends trimmed
1 medium summer squash, ends trimmed
1 large patty pan squash, ends trimmed and quartered.
2 – 3 medium red potatoes
2 – 3 roma tomatoes
1 cup half and half
1 clove garlic, finely grated into pulp
1/2 tsp dried thyme (or 2 sprigs fresh if you got it)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 -2 tbsp cold butter, cut into tiny cubes plus more for greasing the pan
Preheat your oven to 375ºF. Butter a 13×9 or comparable sized casserole dish and set aside.
Its time to slice the veggies (so sharpen your chef’s knife, pull out your mandolin, or ideally… both). Start by slicing your tomatoes into 1/8 inch thick circles. Tomatoes are highly watery, so I suggest salting them gently on both sides and setting them aside while you prep the other veggies. Switch over to your mandolin, if you’re lucky enough to own one, and slice the potatoes, zucchini, summer squash, and patty pan squash into 1/8 inch thick slices.
Starting at one end of your casserole dish, arrange the slices with one vegetable per row, overlapping as you go. You’re attempting to create a striped pattern, which looks really elegant in the final product. Try to separate the squashes with the potatoes and the tomatoes to create variety in the overlapping textures. Work your way row by row until the entire casserole dish is covered. Top with salt and fresh ground pepper, the thyme, and the grated parmesan cheese. Dot with the tiny butter cubes. The combination of the butter and the cheese ensure lots of flavor and a golden brown top to our gratin.
In a small saucepan, combine the half and half and the garlic. You want the garlic to be as close to pulp as possible (I recommend grating it straight into the saucepan using your fine microplane grater/zester. Bring the liquid to a boil of medium-high heat, removing from heat immediately when it starts to foam up. The technique here is to dissolve the garlic into the half and half, offering a gentle garlicy flavor that more efficiently infuses the dish, unlike minced garlic that you’d only taste every few bites. You can also use this technique to make some killer mashed potatoes. The other benefit of this technique, is that the hot liquid helps the dish come to temperature faster in the oven, offering a quicker cooking time.
Gently pour the half and half over top of the casserole, taking care not to disrupt the veggies too much. If you’re using a smaller casserole dish, you might not need all of the half and half. You’re only looking for the liquid to barely come halfway up the vegetables. Pop this into the oven. This takes about 30-40 minutes to get nice and caramelized on top, and make sure you rotate your pan halfway through the cooking process to ensure even browning.
Mmm, delish. It was luscious and light all at the same time. Enjoy it, we definitely did!