Some of the perks of coming home in the summer is being able to spend time with family and friends, exchanging stories about the year and sleeping inappropriately late. Something else that is a little more than helpful is my burgeoned grocery budget. Hey, I gotta feed the whole family!
On Andrea Meyer’s blog, I have been eyeing her Zucchini and Tomato Gratin. She does such a great job of utilizing summer’s freshest ingredients and stuffing them into one big casserole dish. I also appreciate how she doesn’t try to mask the flavors with too much creaminess. Hey, believe me when I tell you- I am not knocking creamy and cheesy potato gratin, but sometimes I just want something lighter, especially when I have to be wearing a bikini in T minus 5 days. Yikes.
Summer Squash and Heirloom Tomato Gratin
1 very large heirloom tomato, thinly sliced
1-2 medium size summer squash, thinly sliced
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 cup basil, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium size vidalia onion, chopped
1/2 cup – 1 cup parmesan cheese
salt, pepper, and thyme to taste
4 tablespoons olive oil
Start by preheating the oven to 375 degrees. Grease your pan using either olive oil or cooking spray. I used a 9x7x2.5 inch glass Pyrex dish.
On the stove, heat a pan to medium heat with some olive oil. Add in your chopped onions. You need to saute the onions until they’re translucent so be prepared for some low and slow cookin’. After about 7 minutes, add in the garlic.
While you’re waiting for the onions and garlic to cook, begin creating layers for the gratin. I started with a layer of summer squash then a layer of tomatoes. Top with a sprinkle of the parsley. Then do another layer of squash and tomatoes. Top with a sprinkle of the basil. Then top with the sauteed onions and garlic as a final layer. The flavor from the onions and garlic will drip down and infuse their delicious flavor into the rest of the gratin. At this point I sprinkled on some dried thyme. How could this be a gratin without some nutty and salty parmesan cheese? Garnish, sprinkle or throw on at will. I like a lot of cheese because it adds a really delicious flavor to the gratin. Really, don’t worry about the calories. Go for it! At least there isn’t any cream in this one!
Bake for about 35 minutes and voila!
This vegetable side dish was a huge hit with the family last night. They loved the combination of warm juicy tomatoes and tender summer squash. My Dad, who is unadventurous (to say the least) in the cheese world, even enjoyed the parmesan. I told him it was mozzarella. What he doesn’t know won’t hurt him. Anyway, this dish shows that fresh summer ingredients can really shine when utilized in the right way. Sometimes you don’t need the cream, fat, oil and animal lard to get your 5 a day.