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.
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.
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.