Roasted Baby Zucchini and Gruyere Gratin

Every week at the Santa Monica farmer's market, I walk by the farmers who I call the squash-and-artichoke farmers.  There are many squash and artichoke farmers there, so you won't be led to them if you go looking for farmers under that description.  That's just a marker in my mind that indicates they are the best squash and artichoke farmers at the market.

 

Only a person with no soul would have missed their first showing of squash this season about a month ago, effulgent yellow squash blossoms beaming from their tables.  I picked up a measure of those and practically skipped home to make something with them.  They looked like this:

 

and they became part of one of my favorite recipes to date, Black Truffled Risotto with Fried Squash Blossoms.

The lucky little green babies that came home with me yesterday are part of what I'm calling the Squash Series, where I buy squash from the squash-and-artichoke farmers across the season and cook with it at all stages of growth.  This is one of the things I love about blogging. I make stuff up and create fun for myself and hopefully, others.

Initial grander, spicier plans for these babies involved nutmeg and thyme, but it seemed like it would have defiled them to add spices. These tender, sweet, buttery squash didn't need much company in the pan. Perhaps when they get older and bolder, like so many of us do, they will be complimented by spicier counterparts.

Roasted Baby Zucchini and Gruyere Gratin
Burwell General Store

Serves: 4

Total Time: 45 minutes

Equipment: medium-sized baking dish, 10"x7"


Ingredients:
About a pound of baby green zucchini, or four to five cups, chopped into thick rounds. (Substitute regular zucchini if you need.) I left the pencil-thin zucchini whole.
Two teaspoons olive oil (Yes, just two teaspoons.  You're about to add cream and cheese.)
1/4 tsp salt and pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons shallot, minced
1/3 cup half and half cream
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese
1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs (or any dried breadcrumb)

Method:
Preheat oven to 400F.
Rinse the zucchini and chop the larger ones into thick rounds, about 1/2" thick.  Chop the tops off the smaller zucchini and place into a medium-sized baking dish.  They will be a couple layers deep. Add shallots, a few turns of cracked black pepper and salt, toss with two teaspoons of olive oil (to lightly coat) and roast for 15 minutes.
While the zucchini is roasting, grate Gruyere and Parmesan, measure cream and Panko breadcrumbs. Set aside.
After 15 minutes, remove dish from oven, place onto a trivet and working with heat-safe utensils, pour in cream, Parmesan and half (1/4 cup) of the Panko and stir into the dish.  Cover the zucchini with Gruyere, top with remaining 1/4 cup Panko and place back in the oven for about 18 minutes, or until the top starts to brown.  Check once and rotate the baking dish if it is not browning evenly.
After 15-18 minutes, or after the gratin has lightly browned and is bubbling, place the baking dish directly under the broiler, checking every 30 seconds, for about two minutes to brown evenly.  Remove from oven, let cool for a few minues to let the cheeses set a little, and serve.



Notes: This was delicious. I ate more than I should have in one sitting.

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