Monday, June 29, 2015

Summer Provencal Vegetable Gratin

Provencal Vegetable Gratin
For this gratin, use all the interesting green and yellow summer squashes (pattypan, scallop, crookneck, butterstick) you can find at the farmers' market or if you are lucky enough in your very own garden.
Cook's notes: 
By mid summer gardens are producing large amounts of vegetables that can be used in a summer vegetable gratin—layers of fresh tomatoes and other produce like eggplant, zucchini, or squash, with a bit of cheese, a generous amount of fresh herbs, a drizzle of olive oil, and a crunchy breadcrumb topping, all melted together by slow roasting.
As the gratin cooks, the vegetables shrink, releasing their moisture and concentrating their flavor. The finished dish is a hearty blend of flavors that can stand on its own as dinner with some crusty bread, or that can be the perfect side dish for grilled meats.
Here are some helpful steps to help you create a perfect summer vegetable gratin

  • First, you need the right dish. I'd like to say that this is the excuse you needed to buy a beautiful earthenware tian made in the South of France. (A tian is the French name for an ovenproof earthenware dish, used to cook all kinds of gratins.) But I won't, because these recipes will taste just as good in a 7 x 11-inch Pyrex dish. An oval dish looks pretty, but any heavy, shallow, 2-quart, ovenproof dish will work.
  • Next, choose the freshest vegetables and herbs you can find. 
  • Don't feel constrained by the ingredient lists in recipes. "Customizing your gratin" is a great way to use all those funny round and twisted squash or tiny eggplant from the farmers' market, or even freshly harvested baby potatoes. At the start of the summer, you can use the first green tomatoes. To complement your produce, make sure that your other ingredients, including the olive oil and cheese, are of the best quality. Their flavors will play a dominant role in the finish.

Summer Vegetable Gratin 
Adapted slightly from Food Network  and
  • 2 TB. extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling or lemon olive oil
  • 4 shallots (or 2 small sweet onions,) chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • 5-6 Roma tomatoes or 4-5 vine-ripened tomatoes, sliced 3/4” thick
  • 2 medium yellow squash, cut into 1/4 inch slices
  • 1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/4 inch slices
  • 3/4 -1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 7 x 11" baking dish with nonstick spray then set aside.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shallot or onions, season with salt and pepper, and then saute until softened, 5-7 minutes. Add garlic then saute for 1 more minute. Add fresh basil and thyme then stir to combine. 
  • Transfer mixture to prepared baking dish then spread into an even layer in the bottom.
  • Add sliced zucchini and yellow squash to a large bowl then drizzle lightly with extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Layer the vegetables in slightly slanted rows until you run out of room or all the vegetables are used up. 

  • Season the top with salt and pepper then cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender when pierced with a knife. 
  • Remove foil then sprinkle Parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs on top. Return to oven uncovered then bake until cheese is golden brown, 10-15 minutes. Let dish sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Two more party ideas
Flag Fruit Kabobs 

Nighttime Ring Toss Game
Use Glow in the Dark rings. They can be found at Hobby Lobby stores if in your area or other craft stores.  Tape two together for more weight and challenge an opponent to a game of ring toss. 

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