Speaking of eating of the season, now's about the time people start giving away cucumbers, tomatoes and zucchini because they have too many to use. So here is a great recipe for your abundance of garden vegetables. It is a zucchini gratin that uses sweet caramelized onions on the bottom and a layering of summer squashes,tomatoes and parmesan cheese. It takes a bit of time to put together (mostly just slicing vegetables and caramelizing the onions) but is well worth the effort. I've made it a couple times recently. The first time I made it, I just printed the recipe with no pictures and skimmed over the instructions. I layered each vegetable one on top of the other with a sprinkling of parmesan in between (in the picture above.) It turned out really good and we devoured it. I thought I'd delve into the original gratin article and look at the other recipes it offered. When I pulled out the magazine, the pictures showed me that I was supposed to stagger the vegetables into lovely layers (as you can see in the picture below.) While this does make for a gorgeous presentation, (and a fun activity) it really doesn't really change the flavor in the cooked gratin. The end result is somewhat like pizza meets ratatouille and is very savory and satisfying.
You really need a shallow (1-inch deep) baking dish for the recipe, or you could probably use a shallow glass or ceramic pie pan, not a deep dish one. Also once you get the idea you don't have to be a stickler for amounts. Just cut enough vegs to fill your dish and make sure you have enough parmesan. The fresh thyme is important here too.Zucchini & Summer Squash Gratin with Parmesan & Fresh Thyme
by Susie Middleton
For this gratin, use all the interesting green and yellow summer squashes (pattypan, scallop, crookneck, butterstick) you find at the farmers' market.
Serves six to eight as a side dish, four as a main dish.
For the onions:
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 medium onions (14 oz. total), thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
To assemble the gratin:
1-1/4 lb. ripe red tomatoes, cored and cut into 1/4-inch slices
3/4 lb. (about 2 small) zucchini or other green summer squash, cut into 1/4-inch slices on the bias
3/4 lb. (about 2 small) yellow summer squash or golden zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch slices on the bias
3 Tbs. olive oil
1/4 cup fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp. coarse salt
1-1/4 cups freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
To cook the onions: In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté, stirring frequently, until limp and golden brown, about 20 min. Reduce the heat to medium-low if they're browning too quickly. Add the garlic and sauté until soft and fragrant, 1 to 2 min. Spread the onions and garlic evenly in the bottom of an oiled 2-qt. shallow gratin dish (preferably oval). Let cool.
To assemble the gratin: Heat the oven to 375°F. Put the tomato slices on a shallow plate to drain for a few minutes and then discard the collected juices. In a medium bowl, toss the zucchini and squash slices with 1-1/2 Tbs. of the olive oil, 2 Tbs. of the thyme, and 1/2 tsp. of the salt. Reserve half of the cheese for the top of the gratin. Sprinkle 1 Tbs. of the thyme over the onions in the gratin.
Starting at one end of the baking dish, lay a row of slightly overlapping tomato slices across the width of the dish and sprinkle with a little of the cheese. Next, lay a row of zucchini, overlapping the tomatoes by two-thirds, and sprinkle with cheese. Repeat with a row of squash, and then repeat rows, sprinkling each with cheese, until the gratin is full.
Season lightly with pepper and the remaining 1/2 tsp. salt. Drizzle the remaining 1-1/2 Tbs. olive oil over all. Combine the reserved cheese with the remaining 1 Tbs. thyme and sprinkle this over the whole gratin.
Cook until well-browned all over and the juices have bubbled for a while and reduced considerably, 65 to 70 min.
Let cool for at least 15 min. before serving.
From Fine Cooking 33, pp. 24-29