Summer Squash Gratin

Summer Squash Gratin Recipe

Someone was asking me in the comments the other day about my food routines. They were curious about how often I shop, my favorite stores here in SF, when I cook - that sort of thing. I'm also curious about your food routines, so I thought I'd share mine in the hope that you would share a bit about yours as well. I should also work a recipe in here, so I decided to highlight a decadent, crunchy-topped summer squash gratin I made last week. It was inspired by a mountain of summer squash I encountered at the farmers' market - yellow squash, green squash, patty pans, globes, and others I couldn't even identify. The gratin recipe features lots it, thinly sliced, with new potatoes, an oregano pesto, and brown-buttered breadcrumbs all baked at high-temperature until the squash is tender and the top is crunchy. I used a mix of yellow and green squash, but you can certainly experiment with whatever you have on hand, or whatever your garden might be producing.

Summer Squash Gratin Recipe

So, the cornerstone of my food routine is a weekly trip to one of the nearby farmers' markets. I stock up on whatever looks good, and typically that means lots of vegetables, a dozen+ farm-fresh eggs, some tofu, seasonal fruit, almond butter, bread, etc. If I end up running low on anything between markets I walk over to Bi-Rite Market and pick it up there. They source ingredients from many of the local farms around here, and even grow some of their own crops now.

Once or twice a month I like to go to Rainbow Grocery or Whole Foods and stock up on pantry staples. I hit the bin section for interesting whole grains, flours, beans, lentils, and that sort of thing. Beyond that, if I'm at the Ferry Building I love to stop in to see what is available at Boulette's Larder - beautiful, rare, artisanal sugars, spice blends, grains, oils, and vinegars. I always come across something special and inspiring there.

As far as beverages go - I love to visit Keri at Biondivino. She carries lots of the small Italian wine producers I like. Or I'll pick up a few bottles after chatting with Josh over at Bi-Rite - I walk there, so that keeps my purchasing in check. Wine can get heavy ;) Wayne is in charge of most beer runs, and lucky for us, one of the best destinations for artisan beers is a short five minute walk - Healthy Spirits. Wayne is also the barista and tea brewer around here - we buy a lot of Blue Bottle beans, and order tea from Sebastian at In Pursuit of Tea.

So, generally speaking, I'm mindful of what I buy, I shop close to home, and (stating the obvious) I cook quite a bit. A few people have asked how much I spend on food. I think I cook on the cheap - kinda. I'd never try to represent myself as a bargain shopper, but because I don't spend money on meat, fish, or poultry, it is easier for me to spend money on great olive oil, eggs, or perfect cherries - and still come out ahead financially. I happily pay $6 - $8/ per dozen eggs, and good cheese is another higher-ticket item for me, but I typically use it as some sort of accent. Most of the organic grains and flours I buy cost between $1 - $2 per pound. Stunning, heirloom beans come in at about $5 per pound. And as anyone who has done it knows - cook a pound of dried beans and you have a whole lot of food on your hands. The organic summer squash I used in this recipe today cost $2 per pound.

I'm sure I'm forgetting things, but if that's the case I'll add as I remember (forgive me!)

Onto the gratin - all you squash growers have got to give this one a go this summer - it is as decadent as I get, plenty of olive oil and butter here, but sooo worth it.

Summer Squash Gratin Recipe

Be sure to slice your potatoes as thin as possible. They get all melty and creamy. Slice them too thick and you'll have trouble cooking them through because the zucchini cooks up more quickly. I use a box grater to shred the cheese here (as opposed to a micro-plane) - you get heartier, less whispy pieces of cheese which is what you want here. I'd also strongly recommend homemade bread crumbs here (see asterisk below).

zest of one lemon
1 1/2 pounds summer squash or zucchini, cut into 1/6th-inch slices
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley
1 large garlic clove, chopped
1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
pinch of red pepper flakes
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 cups fresh whole wheat bread crumbs*
1/2 pound waxy potatoes, sliced transparently thin

3/4 cup grated Gruyere cheese, grated on a box grater (or feta might be good!)

Preheat oven to 400F degrees and place a rack in the middle. Rub a 9x9 gratin pan (or equivalent baking dish) with a bit of olive oil, sprinkle with lemon zest, and set aside.

Place the zucchini slices into a colander placed over a sink, toss with the sea salt and set aside for 10-15 minutes (to drain a bit) and go on to prepare the oregano sauce and bread crumbs.

Make the sauce by pureeing the oregano, parsley, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt, red pepper flakes, and olive oil in a food processor or using a hand blender. Set aside.

Make the breadcrumbs by melting the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook for a few minutes until the butter is wonderfully fragrant, and has turned brown. Wait two minutes, then stir the breadcrumbs into the browned butter.

Transfer the squash to a large mixing bowl. Add the potatoes and two-thirds of the oregano sauce. Toss until everything is well coated. Add the cheese and half of the bread crumbs and toss again. Taste one of the zucchini pieces and add more seasoning (salt or red pepper) if needed.

Transfer the squash to the lemon-zested pan, top with the remaining crumbs, and bake for somewhere between 40 and 50 minutes - it will really depend on how thinly you sliced the squash and potatoes - and how much moisture was still in them. You don't want the zucchini to go to mush, but you need to be sure the potatoes are fully baked. If the breadcrumbs start to get a little dark, take a fork and rake them just a bit, that will uncover some of the blonder bits. Remove from oven, and drizzle with the remaining oregano sauce.

Serves about 8 as a side.

*To make breadcrumbs cut the crust off 2-3 day old artisan bread. Tear into pieces the size of your thumb, and give a quick whirl in the food processor. I don't like my breadcrumbs too fine - and tend to leave the pieces on the large size - more like little pebbles than grains of sand.

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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Comments

  • Our Whole Foods also does not carry heirloom beans - but it's fun to order some from Seed Savers Exchange and grow them myself. From April through October, I go out into the garden to see what's for dinner. Could be a couple bunches of chard, or zucchini to grill, or heirloom tomatoes to slice onto bruschetta. I also have 5 chickens who keep me in eggs, so many in fact that I have been bartering them for things like homemade bread and organic asparagus. Then all I need is the beans and grains from Whole Foods or Vitamin Cottage, so I usually never have to stop by a store on a weeknight unless I need something specific for a recipe. I love splurging on condiments that make sandwiches and salads special - balsamic grilled onions, marinated goat cheese, fancy mustards, or the many fun preserved treats at Trader Joe's (the nearest is in Santa Fe but my mom lives there, so I go every quarter or so and fill up 4 bags with loot!). As another commenter said, I could buy food every day and be happy...

    Celia
  • ps- lucky you for living so close to bi-rite!

    bronwyn
  • I love squash. This looks really good and summery. I tend to do most of my shopping on my lunch hour. I work in SF in the financial district. On Tuesdays, I go to the ferry building farmers market then pop inside and pick up some grains at either village market or farm fresh to you. I also like to stop by cowgirl creamery for cheese. Thursdays I usually go to the farmers market at the crocker galleria. It tickles me to walk amongst the suits carrying a tote with carrot tops and leaffy greens poking out. I get a few looks in the elevator. :) I will be adding the 9th and irving market to my Sundays. This will be fun to do with my 3 year old and will be a good excuse to get scones at Arizmendi. I have a lovely village market in my neighborhood that i can swing by on my way home. I also have several produce markets in my neighborhood that are hit or miss but will do in a pinch. Then once or twice a month I stock up on cheap pantry items at trader joes. I can never get my husband to take me to Rainbow and I don't drive.

    bronwyn
  • I live in where we have Harrys Market they have basically everything that I 'm look for . I been to market when traveling. There One call Lincoln park Market In Chicago, The other One that is fresh and very clean is call Evanston Market. I buy in bulks and that makes a more indulging trip! Beautiful what a inventive way to make this dish! I will be cooking this dish this weekend~~~foodcreate Thanks for sharing this wonderful dish~~~

    foodcreate
  • Sorry, I always remember things right after I click post. My friends in Brooklyn rave about the Park Slope Co-op's bulk bins, saying, "it's almost worth moving to Brooklyn for this alone." It's really cheap and has an incredible selection. Their other products are excellent as well.

    Lauren
  • Oh! and for those of you who worry about the regimenting of my grocery shopping, we always leave room to buy whatever produce strikes our fancy at the store. We just wanted to avoid the whole "buy everything that looks good and then end up letting lots of it go bad" trap. Since we take the subway and our own canvas bags, we have very tangible limits on how much we buy at once. Separately, I will definitely make this dish soon! I love a good crunchy topping.

    Lauren
  • Tizmarelda - If you're in Manhattan, either go to Fairway uptown on 12th Avenue just north of 125th street or to Kalustyan's on Lex & 28th. Fairway recently put in a decent bulk bin section with lentils, split peas, bulgur, quinoa, some flours, lots of granola. They also have a bigger selection of these items in store-packaged deli containers. I went to Kalustyan's for the first time 2 weeks ago and bought a 4 pound bag of beluga lentils for $16 because I can't keep my hands off of them. They have just about everything, but can be a little pricey for just 1-2 person quantities. As for my schedule, my boyfriend and I make a list of 5 or so dinners we want to cook, write down the ingredients (broken up by section of store since NYC shopping is hectic and needs strategizing) and go to Fairway about every 10 days for pretty much all of our needs. I stop by the satellite farmer's market near my office and pick up more delicate produce twice a month. However, our CSA is going to start up next week, so I'm sure the routine is going to get a little shake up.

    Lauren
  • I live all the way across the country in Atlanta, but here are my favorite places to shop: The Dekalb Farmer's Market -- it's a gigantic international farmer's market that's open seven days a week . I have an amazing experience every time I go (which is at least once a week). Morningside Farmers Market -- open only on Saturdays Belly General Store -- an adorable specialty shop in my neighborhood Teuscher -- for fancy chocolates Alon's Bakery -- when I don't bake my own bread I go here for the best you can buy in the city Also, I definitely plan on making the squash casserole. It looks delicious!

    Kasie Bennett
  • That looks incredible! I will definitely be trying it soon. The big challenge for me living in a suburb of Los Angeles is that NOTHING is close by. lol. The farmer's market is as close as actually going to the farm, there is no whole foods, and the few places that carry organic, locally grown produce aren't exactly what I would call "sanitary". It is certainly a challenge. So, I settle by trying to find what I can where I can, which sometimes means settling for organic produce from the local "big grocery chain". But if you know of a place out here in Ventura County that's worth the drive, let me know!

    thefoff
  • Yum- looks great! I did something similar last night but I sauteed the veggies first in a skillet and then just finished in the oven with a havarti cheese cube studded crumb topping. It was so fast!

    Dana McCauley
  • Oh, such squash heaven. To have had this recipe for the mountain of zuchini I have eaten from my mother's garden...

    Betsy
  • I am also a big fan of the bulk bins at Rainbow. Lately, I have been making big salads with a grain (barley, bulgur, farro...) and a bean (any of Rainbow's heirlooms) along with vegetables from my CSA box and some seeds or nuts. The dressing can be lemony or miso-based or anything else. A little feta can make the whole thing creamy. I can eat this for lunch all week.

    Sam
  • omg... YES! I have possibly the world's most productive sunburst squash and zucchini plants right now. As is could not carry the basket in from the garden with one arm. Too heavy. So needless to say, I'm in desperate need of squash ideas. And I also have a crazy amount of oregano threatening to flower. Making this tonight. ooh, and... I find Boulette's Larder to be reason enough for a weekend trip to San Francisco. I would like to live under their communal table and just collect the scraps.

    kristina
  • As a cooking teacher I get asked things like this as well - but most often people ask me what my favorite food to cook is, to which I can never respond. I love so many things - and love to cook - and that drives my shopping. I'm one of those people who could shop for food every single day and be happy!

    Michele Morris
  • Looks like a wonderful recipe! Over here in Seattle, I tend to do small shopping trips twice a week to the local food co-op (PCC) which, luckily for me, is just a couple blocks from where I live. They put a lot of effort into stocking only local & environmentally friendly foods. Then twice a month I'll head over to Trader Joe's and stock up (it's quite a bit cheaper) as well as stopping in at the U-District farmer's market.

    Sarah (Coffee Beans and Curry Leaves)
  • Very similar to a little something called squash casserole that mom used to make. Never failed to please.

    The Duo Dishes
  • Holy sh*t. That sounds like the most incredible dish ever.

    annie
  • Heidi- thanks for sharing! I make a weekly trip to my neighborhood market for most of my fruits, veggies, yogurt/milk needs. I pick up bread at Arizmendi Bakery (I love to stop by on a Sunday morning before breakfast). For meats, I usually pick up something friend from either Andronico's, or Golden Natural Foods in the Castro. I also love the Cheese shop in the Inner Sunset for cheeses and deli meats. Depending on what I have going on on the weekends, I always try to supplement my produce supply by hitting up my local farmers' markets. I am so excited that a new one just launched right in my neighborhood (at 9th and Irving).

    Kasey
  • Yum!! I've got some gouda and broccoli/cilantro pesto that I made up the other day in the fridge. That'll work. That's a great list of stores for SF, but any New Yorkers out there know where to get good bulk stuff on the cheap? Our Whole Foods don't carry that stuff, and even the Co-ops I shop at don't have the greatest selection of flours, beans or rice.

    Tizmarelda
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