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!

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Recipe sounds great! Similar to something my mom has always done but without the potatoes. My summer squash is just starting to appear on the vines but shouldn't be long now. My shopping: June through September CSA box from Homestead growers, eggs included. Saturday trip to the Broad Ripple Farmers market for fruits & veggies not in CSA box. Cheese from an Amish family (my family absolutely loves the cheese!). Local meat market, The Goose. Organic Milk delivered on Thursday. Whole foods couple times a month for grains, flour etc. My garden but only have kale and lettuce at the moment. Make my own bread. I think that is it. By the way love your recipes and ideas! Ann in Indiana


Hi Russell, I'm an apartment dweller and am growing some edibles on the windowsill (indoors) for the first time this year. Black cavalo nero is growing well, almost ready to eat, and the Japanese Shiso herb is nearly 2 feet high! Planted quite a few chile seeds but only two have grown up: a guajillo and a chimayo. Using organic earth indoors seems to breed fungus gnats (harmless small black flies) so we have just ordered some mites (more insects!) to eat them, and sticky yellow flags to catch them.

Wow ... reading about all these farmer's markets and places and hearing about all the good produce makes me want to go vegan, and I'm a "meat and potatoes" man! When I lived in OK, you could always find a roadside produce market. There were also great farmers' markets in the area. Now that I am in NC, they don't seem as prevalent, but I keep hearing about some of the ones that are around the area. As for this recipe, I definitely would love to try this one. Squash is easily one of my fave veggies, and this one sounds like it has some great flavors. I am wondering what some of you apartment dwellers do when wanting to grow your own stuff. What do you grow? How much of it? Do you grow outside (e.g., window boxes) or inside?

Mmmm..... We're not in squash yet in Massachusetts, though. My 4 little plants have buds on them. (I bought the 8-ball type.) Your oregano pesto, by the way, I consider heavenly. When we make the giant bean & kale dish on your site, we use the leftovers in/on EVERYTHING for days. I'm hoping my tiny struggling sprig of oregano takes so I can make a lot this summer. How do you think Lemon Balm would work? My goal, particularly in the summer, is to keep my husband out of the supermarket as much as possible! He's the one with more time, but he also is the one who buys chips. To that end, it's CSA (I've got a beautiful, huge box of green stuff to contend with this week!), gardening, and a wonderful produce place called Russo's for fruit and not-quite-seasonal salad accoutrements. We keep a vegetarian house, so no meat, but usually pick one expensive cheese at each trip to Russo's. We're going to start getting milk delivered; it's more than Trader Joe's or supermarket milk, but less than buying local milk at specialty places, and it's incredibly tasty. Trader Joe's is about every 3 weeks for butter, eggs (which I may start getting from the farmer's market), spelt bread, brown rice pasta, and frozen artichoke hearts & veggie nuggets. Supermarket I try to keep to once a month or less with the CSA, mostly just when the hours are better than elsewhere.


Love your recipes This is my first time commenting. The summer squash gratin is exciting my taste buds. Looking forward to trying it. Might just become a veggie gal

Sally bee buzzing

I have a huge zucchini plant that hasn't produced anything yet! It's driving me crazy. But I'm up to my neck in grape and plum tomatoes, so I can't complain too much. Thanks for the squash recipe. It's one of my favorite summer veggies. My mother always used to pan fry /saute slices of summer squash covered in a thin layer of cornmeal, flour, salt & pepper until they were golden brown. It was delicious.


Perfect timing for a squash recipe! I have so many from the market and needed some new ideas. Looks so pretty and colorful, perfect for having ppl over. Thanks ~

YUM! I love squash, and I keep buying as much as I can handle when I'm at the farmers markets. I am also growing patty-pans in the garden, but unfortunately only get about 2 little squashes a week off of the plant. (mental note, plant more next time!) My routines (wish that I could say I walked to mine! All too far away. I live kind of in the country): I try to get to the nearest farmers market twice a month when it's open. (which is a good 15 miles away) I supplement with a visit to Sprouts, which is a "farmers market" like grocery with a lot of natural foods, my yogurt and cheese, naturally raised meats, and bins of great grains, nuts, and dried fruits. Once in a while I might make it to Whole Foods or Central Market (a local high-end "Whole Foods" like grocery) for some fancy pantry items. Visit a nearby farm to pick up fresh eggs once a week on my drive home from work. Also, lately have been growing some veggies and herbs, so that helps!

My shopping oscillates between 3 main places - Safeway, WholeFoods and Farmer's Market. We are vegetarians and stocking up on vegetables is the only thing for me - we dont drink either :) Love this squash recipe - I havent gone all out when it comes to squash - should start making more

This looks amazing. I love the taste of zucchini and summer squashes mixed together, and then add potatoes and cheese! Wow.

Wine-wise, have you ever tried Vino in Pacific Heights (right next door to Mollie Stones)? The staff is amazing and always directs me to a great bottle in my price range (which can vary a lot, depending on the occasion). I'll have to try out Biondivino though. HS: Great tip - I'll have to check it out.


I live in Greensboro, NC. In spite of it being a small city, it has a surprising array of choices. We have no Whole Foods, no Trader Joe's, but we have a co-op, a small chain store called Earth Fare, and a downtown curb market on the weekends, as well as a big old farmer's market out by the airport. We also have several Asian, Middle Eastern, and Latin markets. Every Saturday morning I hit the curb market for produce, eggs, milk, and, for a treat, locally raised organic pork products. (Go Cane Creek Farm!) I also get organic free range ostrich raised in Winston-Salem from the "big" FM. I get my bulk bin stuff from Earth Fare, as well as some "survival food" like KIND bars and Rachael's yogurts. I also get my bread from there, which is from Ninth St Bakery in Durham, NC. For ethnic foods, I shop at Dynasty Market, the Super G Mart, and Indu. Their products are all imported from Asia and Latin America, but at least they are locally owned and operated. (I don't know of a local producer of Amchoor, for example.) For anything else, we hit the chain supermarket. I am happy to report that we are spending less and less there. Unfortunately, we have to drive to all of these places, so we consolidate trips, build store-specific lists up, etc., to cut down on pointless car trips.


I like the squash recipe, and I'm going to try and make it vegan by using a great new recipe I've encountered for basil (or tarragon or cilantro) oil. I'll leave out the cheese but experiment with some other things. Portland Oregon is a fantastic town for foodies, and from April-end of November I shop at a Saturday PSU Famers Market a 5 min. drive from my house, then head over to New Seasons, the best store I've ever found for all things organic, including bulk pasta, beans, rice etc., to pick up whatever was not available at the market. If I run out of produce mid-week there are two or three other Farmers Markets open Wednesday or Thursday within the city. We have a bounty of excellent bakeries, so if I need fresh bread I usually go to Pearl or Grand Central Bakery. During the months the Farmers Markets are not open most of my food shopping centers around New Seasons.


Interesting to read everyone's shopping habits as I hate shopping and do as little as possible. I'm in the Los Angeles foothills area. On Saturday mornings I pick up my CSA box and then hit one of the farmer's markets if there's something else I need. Our CSA also offers free-range, organic chicken, beef, pork, eggs, beans, rice, nuts, dairy, and other items that I take advantage of. Other than that, I shop about once a month for staples at Trader Joe and about every three monthsor so at Costco for all the stuff that comes in ridiculously big packages, but is ridiculously low-priced (I don't buy food there except for tomato paste). Also stop at a great health food market/restaurant in Burbank for beans, grains or other staples (usually time it so I can have lunch there).


Yum, looks good. This kind of gratin is very good with blue cheese (a little goes a long way). I'm living in Germany, and here there is a supermarket on every other corner (all selling fantastic beers with no artificial additives). So we walk past the market on the way home each day and purchase food based on our whim (something we've been wanting to try from a cookbook) or what looks good& fresh. The organic Biomarkt doesn't have bulk bins, so we often buy dried beans/pulses from asian import stores: there's a thrifty indian brand. Wing beans, chinese chives, tamarind, vegetarian potstickers etc we also pick up from the asian import store about once every three weeks (it's ten minutes walk from work). Düsseldorf has a big Japanese population so we go there for daikon, kombu stock powder, abura-age tofu pouches, good kimchi etc, about once every 2 months. We get smoked paprika, dulce de leche and chorizo from the spanish grocery store in Cologne every so often, and there is an Italian supermarket in town for stocking up on good pasta. For more fancy stuff like special olive oils (or really nice Spanish cheese like Torta di Cabra), we'd normally only buy them on holiday & bring home as souvenirs. But for the occasional indulgence,the Manufactum handmade goods emporium is nice to dally in: they have a good cheese counter with a goats cheese pressed with lavender that I love, handmade butter, curiosities like spiced biscuits or shortbread made by cloistered nuns, pasteurised malt extract in a can, plus delicious crusty bread, and the only coffee in town worth drinking. we have a friend who is a wine merchant and recommends bargains, so we never pay more than seven euros for a bottle.

This sounds delicious, and possibly a kid-friendly dish to boot! Heidi, if you're ever across the Bay even through the Caldecott (what are the chances? haha)... you should check out Harvest House. I feel so lucky to live near it. They carry local dairy (Strauss, Petaluma Creamery, Spring Hill), and their bin selections are amazing - anything you can think of, right on down to loose spices and herbs and teas. It is the MOST fun shopping trip, and I find something new to try every time I'm there. Their aisles are stocked with tons of organic, earth-friendly, local items, and on top of that, half the store is stocked with vitamins/nutritional supplements/personal care products! Local shampoo - amazing! It's the best. With that and one of our many, many local farmers' markets, not to mention a quick trip to Brentwood for straight-from-the-farm produce, a girl can feel good about shopping! Oh, and at many of our East Bay farmers' markets, you can find Shelly selling her farm-fresh eggs for $5/dozen. It's a steal!! Thanks for the great recipes!


So you are a vegetarian? But eat eggs and milk? I try to eat local, too but thought about coffee and tea ... not local at all!

this is exactly like the recipe in sunday suppers at lucques with the addition of potatoes. That's a great cookbook isn't it heidi. HS: I'll have to check out Suzanne's version. And thanks for the reminder, I really should highlight her book here at some point. Let me know if you have a favorite recipe from it!


this is a killer meat-free recipe. it looks amazing.

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