Sunday, August 9, 2009
As I mentioned in my last post, we needed a way to use all that zucchini we had down the shore this weekend, and I remembered seeing a recipe for Summer Squash Gratin on one of my favorite sites. My mom thought it would go well with the rest of our dinner so we made it.
The recipe can be made with any summer squash (the yellow and green look nice together in the picture) but we just had so much zucchini that we couldn't really play around with it. We also used much more of pretty much everything than called for in the recipe. 2 pounds of potatoes is about 3-4 potatoes (not big ones), and just didn't seem like enough, so we used more of everything.
My mom cut the zucchini by hand while I sliced the potatoes with the food processor. I haven't sliced anything with my food processor at home yet, but now I am super excited to do it. How incredibly convenient! We chose to do it this way because the potatoes need to be sliced much thinner than the zucchini and we figured it was easier to slice thickly than thinly by hand. In the end, the potatoes were still sliced slightly too thick, although I think this could have been remedied by making sure the slices all came apart from each other. I also used the food processor to grate the Gruyere (and kept sneaking tastes... YUM).
The sauce was extremely easy to make, and we doubled it to account for the large amount of veggies we were using. We used fresh parsley, but dried oregano (2 Tbsp.). Everything else was doubled. I roughly chopped the garlic before tossing it in. I also couldn't really taste the red pepper flakes at all, so I might add more of those next time (I didn't measure). I did this in the blender because our food processor is an attachment to the blender, and of course my mom forgot the regular blade for the food processor at home! But I found that the blender worked just fine, and possibly better because we had a lower capacity food processor. This is a liquid so you don't want any leaking out of your food processor from having too much liquid.
For the bread crumb topping, we ran into a few minor problems. My super assistant Haley handed me a stick of butter from the fridge and I put it in a pan over the stove to melt and "brown." In the meantime I measured the bread crumbs. I had doubled the butter, so I thought I would double the bread crumbs to 4 cups (my mom says, "we like bread crumbs!") After measuring out 2 cups of bread crumbs I realized there was no way they could possibly fit in the pan I was using. I called my mom over to fix my crisis and she poured the butter into a bigger pan and got it going again. After a while it was just kind of coagulating and not really doing anything. I was getting a little frustrated because this seemed so straightforward. Finally my mom realized that Haley had handed me some margarine or something like that, not butter. So we found a way to dump it and got some real butter going in the bigger pan. Things were MUCH easier from here. It did exactly what it was supposed to! I had Haley standing by to measure 2 more cups of bread crumbs (they would not fit in the bowl) so when my butter was brown I dumped my 2 cups in and started mixing. At this point I realized there was NO way that 2 more cups of bread crumbs would fit in the pan. Oh well! This looked like plenty. I mixed them in with the butter and turned off the heat.
The veggies are tossed with the sauce, then with the Gruyere and half the bread crumbs. You put them in the zested (of course) baking pan and then top with the rest of the bread crumbs. It was a LOT of bread crumbs. In the oven, it was in the middle, but the bread crumbs were getting burny looking on top, and the potatoes were not done. So this problem was solved with some aluminum foil and moving the pan to the bottom rack. Luckily the bread crumb topping did not cook more after this.
When it was finally done the zucchini gratin was delicious. Everyone loved it at dinner and it was definitely a perfect accompaniment to the rest of the meal. 1/3 of the sauce is reserved to drizzle over it on your plate, which was especially yummy. It was kind of a lot of bread crumbs and I think everyone agreed on that... but it was delicious and definitely something to make again. My mom suggested that it was kind of Thanksgiving-y. I don't know if there will be many zucchinis around at Thanksgiving, but I could definitely try it with another kind of squash.