Summer Squash Gratin with Salsa Verde
As shared from the kitchen of Once Upon a Plate by Mari
Recipe yields 4 to 6 servings
This is substantial enough to be served as a main dish, but also makes a wonderful side dish with something from the grill. Feel free to substitute the Gruyere with Jarlsberg or another cheese that melts well.
Salsa Verde: (this is tasty on grilled chicken or fish, too.)
1 teaspoon fresh (or 1/2 teaspoon dried) oregano or marjoram.
1/4 cup coarsely chopped mint (optional)
1 cup coarsely chopped flat leaf (Italian) parsley
3/4 cups extra-virgin olive oil
1 small clove garlic
1 anchovy (it won't make the sauce taste 'fishy', it just adds a lovely layer of flavor)
1 Tablespoon capers, drained (rinse them and drain if they are packed in salt)
1 fresh lemon
freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds summer squash (all one type, or a mix)
1 1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs (dried will not work well)
3 Tablespoons butter
3/4 cups sliced shallot
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon thyme leaves (or 1 1/2 teaspoon dried)
1 chile, seeded and finely chopped (jalapeno, serrano, or New Mexico)
1 cup grated Gruyere Cheese, or any good melting cheese
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
First make the salsa verde: I use a mortar and pestle to make this, but you can use a food processor if you prefer. Pound the garlic and anchovy, then add the herbs and pound them with a couple of tablespoons of the oil into a thick paste. Add capers and lightly crush, stir in the remaining oil, a few grinds of freshly ground pepper and a generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Taste for seasoning, add more lemon juice if desired. (I always add more)
To assemble the gratin:
•Heat oven to 400˚F. Slice the squash into 1/4-inch slices. Toss slices in a large bowl with 1 teaspoon kosher salt and allow to sit for 10 minutes (this will release some of the water from the squash)
•Place the breadcrumbs in a bowl. Heat a small saute pan over medium heat for 1 minute. Place the butter in the hot pan and swirl around; allow butter to cook for a few minutes until it is nicely browned and smells nutty. Pour the brown butter (including the brown bits from the bottom of the butter pan) over the bread crumbs, toss with a fork or silicone spatula to coat the crumbs evenly with the butter. Set aside to cool.
•Drain the squash and transfer it to a large mixing bowl. Add the shallots, thyme, minced garlic, chile, 1/2 of the salsa verde and some freshly ground black pepper. Toss ingredients to combine, add the grated cheese and half of the butter-coated bread crumbs. Toss again and taste for seasoning (the garlic will be pungent at this point, but mellows out as the gratin bakes.)
•Place the squash mixture in a 9x9-inch (or equivalent) gratin dish, (or divide mixture evenly into 4 individual gratin dishes.) Sprinkle the remaining bread crumbs over the top. Bake large gratin for 35 to 40 minutes, the individual gratins for 15 to 20 minutes (or so, until squash is just tender, cheese is bubbling, and bread crumb topping is nicely golden brown.) Tent with foil if crumbs begin browning too quickly. Remove from oven, allow to sit for a couple of minutes, then enjoy!
•Any extra salsa verde can be passed at the table to drizzle over the gratin, it also makes a delightful sauce, spooned over grilled chicken or fish.
Recipe adapted from "Sunday Suppers at Lucques" by Susan Goin.
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