04 August 2011

Double Take: Pink Parsley's Summer Vegetable Gratin

Summer Vegetable Gratin with corn and Cuban burgers.

By the time this post goes live, I'll be sitting in the airport waiting on my flight out of Germany. We're moving back to the US. Whoa. So I hope you'll forgive me as this post is short and sweet...

I'm not big on making side dishes. I don't know why, but I just don't make a ton of them. I put so much effort into my entree that the side just put off until the very last minute when I blanch some green beans or broccoli. Occasionally they'll get roasted, but I'm a big fan of blanching vegetables. In an effort to balance my cooking skills a bit, I picked out a gorgeous looking Summer Vegetable Gratin to try my hand at a side. Plus, it looked substantial enough to be a main so I was kinda hoping it'd be a good vegetarian main dish for us.

Summer Vegetable Gratin
slightly adapted from Pink Parsley, originally from Cook's Illustrated
serves 6-8 as a side, or 4 as a light entree (and can be halved quite easily)

6 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound zucchini, ends trimmed and sliced into coins 1/4-inch thick
1 pound yellow squash, ends trimmed and sliced into coins 1/4-inch thick
2 teaspoons salt
1 ½ pounds ripe tomatoes (3-4 large), sliced 1/4-inch thick
2 medium onions, halved lengthwise and sliced thin (about 3 cups)
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 Tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1 large slice good-quality white sandwich bread, torn into quarters
2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 cup)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

Yep. I used a ShamWow for a trivet. 

Adjust the oven rack to the upper-middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly oil a 9x13 inch baking dish and set aside.

Toss zucchini and squash slices with 1 teaspoon of salt in a large colander, and allow to drain about 45 minutes, or until they release 3 Tablespoons of liquid. Arrange slices on a triple layer of paper towels or a dish towel, cover with a clean dish towel, and press firmly to remove as much moisture as possible.

As the squash and zucchini drain, line another dish towel with the tomatoes, and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Allow to stand 30 minutes, then using a clean dish towel or paper towels, press firmly to dry the tomatoes.

Meanwhile, heat 1 Tablespoon of the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onions, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened and dark golden brown, about 20 minutes. Set aside.

Combine the garlic, 3 Tablespoons of oil, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and thyme in a small bowl. Whisk to combine. In a large bowl, toss the squash and zucchini with half the garlic-oil mixture. Arrange in the baking dish, then top with an even layer of the onions. Slightly overlap the tomato slices in a single layer over the onions, and drizzle with the remaining oil mixture. Bake until the vegetables are softened and tomatoes are starting to brown around the edges, 40-45 minutes.

As the vegetables cook, pulse the bread in a food processor until finely ground (You should have about 1 cup of crumbs). Combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan, and 1 tablespoon oil in a medium bowl.

Remove the baking dish from the oven and increase the heat to 450. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the vegetables, and bake gratin until bubbling and lightly browned, 5-10 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with basil. Allow to sit at room temperature 10 minutes before serving.

Pretty layers.

So, will this recipe be making our vegetarian main list? Not so much. Three of us tried it, and there were three different reactions. I liked the dish when it was layered together, but didn't care for the layers individually. Bender enjoyed the tomatoes, but didn't care for the zucchini or onions (I've never found yellow squash here, so I went for all zucchini). The Dude called it a good side dish.

I halved the recipe, and there were four very generous servings. We even had leftovers. Though I think if I'd left them on the table all evening they would have been eaten. While this recipe is not a star in my book, it is a very solid recipe and will probably be made again. The tomatoes here haven't been great this year, and that probably affected the final product. I'll keep this one on the back burner for now.

It's-a-good-side-dish: 1 vote
I-don't-care-for-the-squash-part: 1 vote
The-final-product-is-better-than-the-sum-of-its-parts: 1 vote

To see what Tabitha thought of the Summer Vegetable Gratin, head on over to Double the Garlic!

Dig In!


  1. I'm surprised..I thought Bender liked zucchini and onions. Would you have enjoyed it better as just a tomato casserole? Come to think of it, a tomato casserole would probably be pretty good.

  2. Hi Melanie - I made this recipe today for the SRC - and we LOVED it!!! Thanks so much for sharing! Happy Cooking :)


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