Summer Vegetable Gratin

image by WiGal at
As you can tell there has not been a lot of posting happening over here at Indigo 26.  We are right in the middle of a fixing a water leak, fixing up a new house, selling and moving.  I thought July was going to be busy, but I was wrong.  Mostly becauase I didn't think it would really take two and half months to complete all of this.  We are hoping the official move will be next weekend, but the plans are very dynamic around here.  Thank you for sticking around for the few posts.  I'm hoping to be back regularly soon. 

With that said, I am completely missing the summer vegetable bounty.  The old kitchen is packed, and the new kitchen is not yet finished so our diet has consisted of sandwiches, salads, fruit, oatmeal, or nothing.  I am so ready to be settled and in the kitchen again.  This is a strange statement for me to make considering my family will tell you I'm allergic to cooking.  I do love wholesome food, and I have found that as I gracefully age, I am enjoying being in the kitchen more. 

So since I can't make this summer favorite from my farmers market bounty I thought I would at least share it with all of you.  And if you do decide to make it, send me photos so I can drool.  This is quite possibly the best gratin you will ever taste.  It's worth the extra effort.

Summer Vegetable Gratin

This recipe was originally published in the July 2008 edition of
Cook’s Illustrated
Serves 6-8 as a side

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound zucchini, ends trimmed and sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 pound summer squash (yellow), ends trimmed and sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
2 teaspoons table salt
1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes (3 to 4 large), sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 medium onions, halved lengthwise and sliced thin pole to pole (about 3 cups)
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1 large slice white sandwich bread, torn into quarters (I used homemade bread that I had previously frozen and then ran it through the food processer to make crumbs)

2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1 cup)
2 medium shallots, minced (about 1/4 cup)
optional: 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Brush 13- by 9-inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon oil; set aside.

Toss zucchini and summer squash slices with 1 teaspoon salt in large bowl; transfer to colander set over bowl. Let stand until zucchini and squash release at least 3 tablespoons of liquid, about 45 minutes. Arrange slices on triple layer paper towels; cover with another triple layer paper towels. Firmly press each slice to remove as much liquid as possible.

Place tomato slices in single layer on double layer paper towels and sprinkle evenly with 1/2 teaspoon salt; let stand 30 minutes. Place second double layer paper towels on top of tomatoes and press firmly to dry tomatoes.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add onions, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened and dark golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Set onions aside.

Combine garlic, 3 tablespoons oil, remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and thyme in small bowl. In large bowl, toss zucchini and summer squash in half of oil mixture, then arrange in greased baking dish. Arrange caramelized onions in even layer over squash. Slightly overlap tomato slices in single layer on top of onions. Spoon remaining garlic-oil mixture evenly over tomatoes. Bake until vegetables are tender and tomatoes are starting to brown on edges, 40 to 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, process bread in food processor until finely ground, about 10 seconds. (You should have about 1 cup crumbs). Combine bread crumbs, remaining tablespoon oil, Parmesan, and shallots in medium bowl. Remove baking dish from oven and increase heat to 450 degrees. Sprinkle bread-crumb mixture evenly on top of tomatoes. Bake gratin until bubbling and cheese is lightly browned, 5 to 10 minutes. Sprinkle with basil and let sit at room temperature 10 minutes before serving.