I found a new recipe in my inbox this morning. It was for a Summer Squash Gratin from Heidi Swanson, on of my favourite food writers. Her blog, 101 Cookbooks is a fabulous source of down to earth, tasty, and exciting vegetarian dishes. I love her ideas, although, I’ve yet to follow one to the letter. I tend to use her recipes as inspiration, then, adjust the recipe according to my family’s tastes and/ or according to what I have in the house. I highly recommend having a look at her website, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed. I liked the look of this recipe as I love vegetable gratins, but don’t always want to eat the volume of dairy products that they normally call for.
As I had some yellow summer squash that I wanted to eat up, this recipe arrived on the right day. I used the squash and potatoes, as Heidi suggested, but I also included several stalks of de stringed, roughly chopped celery. I think that there are many vegetables that would work well with this method. I changed the sauce – I made it from two cups of basil with some dried marjoram, as I did not have the requisite fresh parsley and oregano in the house today (I’m cleaning out the fridge for the summer). I also substituted a block of sheep’s feta for the gouda. It all worked very well.
It is important to slice the potatoes as thinly as possible, as they will take longer to cook than the squash. I used my trusty mandolin.
The temperatures have been cooler this week in Arizona, so something hot, out of the oven, was a welcome change.
3 yellow summer squash, sliced about 1/6″ thick.
6 small red potatoes, sliced as thinly as possible. I used my mandolin for the slicing today.
4 stalks of celery, de stringed and roughly chopped.
1 block of sheep feta cheese, about 7 ounces.
2 cups of fresh basil.
2 cloves of garlic.
1 small salad onion (optional).
Zest from 1 small lemon.
A small pinch of dried marjoram (optional).
Red chilli pepper flakes (optional).
1 cup (or more if necessary) Extra virgin olive oil.
Salt and Pepper.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Salt the sliced summer squash and put aside to drain, for about 10-15 minutes. Slice potatoes, chop celery, and put into a large, mixing bowl.
Make the sauce. Put the basil leaves, garlic, lemon zest, and small onion into a the bowl of a small hand mixer/blender. Blend. Then add the olive oil, some chilli pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt. Blend again until smooth. Taste, and adjust the seasoning.
Rinse the squash and dry with paper towels.
Break up and mix the feta cheese, and two thirds of the sauce (saving a bit for the topping), into the bowl with the potatoes and celery.
Mix in the summer squash. Make sure everything is well coated. Taste for seasoning.
Turn the mixture into a ovenproof dish. Sprinkle on a few handfuls of panko breadcrumbs. I prefer to go lightly here, but, you can add as much as you like. Use the remaining sauce to moisten the breadcrumbs.
Bake until the potatoes are cooked and the topping has turned golden brown.
I was very happy with the result, but, next time I would use more squash and make the slices thicker. Heidi suggests using a variety of squash, which I think would be very nice. Still, my supper delicious and really hit the spot.
Thank you to Heidi Swanson for the inspiration. Here is the link for the original, which looks fantastic, as well as lots of other, very good things.
Have a good weekend.