Summer Squash Gratin Recipe

A decadent, crunchy-topped summer squash gratin made from thinly sliced summer squash, potatoes, oregano pesto, and brown-buttered breadcrumbs- all baked at high-temperature until the squash is tender and the top is crunchy.

Summer Squash Gratin

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.

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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!

Apologies, comments are closed.


This recipe is going on the must make list but in Chicago we get squash galore in the fall, we are still at the end of asparagus and start of peppers, lettuces and all the vegetables, u in San Fran, have most of the year. But this recipe not only sounds easy to do but really yummy and comforting!!!!!!!


Another great one! To make this gluten-free (and grain free) I would give it a go with ground almond and/or pecans in place of the bread crumbs. Very easy switch. Looks deicious!

Another great one! To make this gluten-free (and grain free) I would give it a go with ground almond and/or pecans in place of the bread crumbs. Very easy switch. Looks deicious!

The squash look absolutely delicious! I'm always interested in new ways to cook an abundance of summer squash. I was also very interested to hear about your shopping and cooking routine. (I'm a regular reader of your blog, but this is my first comment!) I do have one question, though: whenever I shop at the farmer's market (there's a weekly one here), I end up with lots of good-looking fruit and vegetables, but I always seem either (a) to run out before the end of the week, necessitating a trip to the local supermarket, or (b) to have gotten too much and end up wasting food (something I really dislike). Part of this is that I am used to cooking by planned recipes and I would normally plan the week's meals in advance and only buy enough for each meal; however, if I am trying to buy only what is fresh and available on any given week, I cannot do that. Do you have any tips on how to know how much to buy?

Miss B.

This reminds me of something I used to make for my kids- didn't put potatoes in it though and I seem to recall I used some kind of packaged flavaored stuffing for the bread crumbs. This recipe is way better!

Hi! This looks absolutly delicious! I live in Norway - and I have a question about the potatoes you use - are they floury or firm? (my instinct would say floury - but I thought I'd better check it out :-D) Hi Anne-Renee - the were small firm potatoes, thanks for asking.


those yellow squash look so fresh .....and that is how the dish becomes full of flavors...i think it can be tried with other guard family veggies available in this part of the world...... i do weekly shopping for my veggies n fruits and come back loaded with freshest ingredients.....i grow some organic herbs n veggies in my garden too...

I love the colours of the squash in this recipe it sounds delicious. The way you describe your food shopping is my ideal way to shop as well and sometimes I manage it but at the same time all too often I have to end up running into a supermarket or corner store at the last minute to get various provisions having not been organised enough to get to the farmers market!

it looks so fine!i will try this recipe!thanks!

Wow! My backyard is currently overrun with the cutest little yellow summer squash and this sounds like the perfect way to use some! Thanks for the recipe!


this looks so good! squash were always kind of wintery in my mind, but they are totally a spring vegetable! yum. my food routine...hmmm. i love exploring new places and finding new ingredients. so i guess i don't really have a routine, except to shop at the same grocery stores. i usually buy way too much food, especially if i'm into trying new vegan substitutes, which can really add up. thanks for sharing! all the cool stuff is on the west coast :(

i love the looks of this dish, but unfortunately can't do lactose--if you think it is still worth making a gratin without the cheese (don't worry no French chef is listening!) or some kind of substitute, please let me know! i don't usually like squash because i find it lacking both texture and flavor--but maybe i haven't been cooking it right? more often than not it is mushy and doesn't end up soaking up whatever it is marinating in...however, i do remember how tasty gratins were from the days when i could eat them! so thank you for sharing Heidi, you are the Best! generally on sundays, i sit down and ask my honey what he would like to eat during the week--some of the suggestions i take (homemade pizza) some I shake my head at (nachos). then i look through my cookbooks and see whether there are recipes that i've had my eye on that would be good to try during the week. I write down all the ingredients and head to Trader Joe's. anything we can't find there we then proceed to get at the whole foods across the street. i find the farmer's markets around us to be very expensive and so don't invest there. I do buy organic at TJ's and trust where they claim their ingredients to be from. We think TJ's is a great blend of tastiness and value. Oh and about once a month we go to the Milk Pail, which has the tastiest croissants on this planet outside of France! If you ever find yourself in the Los Altos/Palo Alto area of CA, you simply must get these delicious frozen treats that puff up and become glorious pastries in your oven the next day! HS: Try leaving out the cheese Mai - I suspect it will still be quite good.

mai truong

Your summer squash gratin looks delicious! I'm just waiting for the squash to come to my local farmers market. My routine is similar to yours, I do a weekend trip to the farmers market and pick up my eggs and whatever vegetables are fresh, then base my menu plans for the week around that. I try and by my other staples at the independent grocery stores that are around my area, like the Greek place for my feta and olives and an occasional stop at Whole Foods for my sprouted bread and everything else. I feel very fortunate to live in Vancouver BC!

Ooh, I am always overrun with squash, and this sounds great! Question: Do you think you could just use already made pesto? I always have some that I've stuck away in the freezer (I also get overrun with basil.) If so, how much would you use? Thanks, Loren Love, love, love your blog!!! (and your book!) HS: Hi Loren, yes you can use ready-made pesto - I'd just thin it out a bit - with a splash of broth, or hot water, or a bit more oil. Some of those ready-made pestos can be quite thick. You want enough to lightly coat the squash/potatoes.


This looks really good, Heidi! I shall try it :) yumm


The first of my squash blossoms appeared today--I hope they make beautiful zuccini's that I can use in this gratin! My food routine: My Eat Well CSA share keeps me on track, so I can plan meals and don't leave the farmers market loaded down with too much stuff to carry home. Tuesday Ferry Plaza market at lunch is a great break from work. It's fun to watch a market unfold through all the seasons. The new Inner Sunset Market will be a new Sunday morning ritual for extra fruit, grains, honey and eggs. Real Foods on Stanyan is a good stop for other local produce and grains to fill in the blanks. I try to do up a meal plan each week stocked with quick meal options, new recipes to keep the cooking exciting, and enough leftovers for lunch.

About your daily routine, it was interesting to read about. I am an American living in Krakow, Poland. Like you I used to stock up and shop at the market once or twice a week. Believe it or not I go almost everyday now. In Europe the storage, i.e. the fridges are smaller and the markets are closer. They get fresh local grown vegetables from the farmers everyday, as still about 25% of the people here are involved in agriculture. For me this was a big contrast to Boston (the SF of the East) where I use to live.

oh yum! i am so doing this tomorrow night! question- can a substitute for Gruyere cheese be suggested? i'm just not sure i can find a kosher one (or a rennet free brand) without going to brooklyn or something.


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