This zucchini dish will be memorable for several reasons. First, there’s the seriously sliced finger. It’s not often that you hear someone say that they should have used a mandoline to prevent injury, but sure enough, as I tried to evenly slice the zucchini the long way using a large knife, I managed to cut my finger pretty badly. Then there’s the fact that our patty pan squash plants and especially our zucchini plant have truly seen better days. There must be some sort of summer squash blight going on here, because these poor plants are spotty, dry, and look like they’re trying to escape their pots by growing down over the sides. Poor things…well if they don’t recover, at least we’ll remember them fondly from this yummy summer squash tomato pesto gratin.
I found this one on Karina’s Kitchen, which I haven’t really looked at before because for a carb lover like me, the whole “gluten-free” tag line scared me off. But happily, most of the recipes are easily adaptable for breads or pastas with glutens as well. Making this recipe was a no brainer, what with our homegrown summer squash and tomatoes as well as a glut of bread crumbs from old, stale bread. Trying to eat a bit lighter these days (post-wedding cake, birthday cake, etc…), we decided to just have the gratin on its own, rather than over pasta, as Karina suggested. And it was downright delightful- lots of veggies, but the bread crumbs and mozzarella made it feel like a meal, rather than a plate of uber-healthy produce. Yum, yum, yum. We had this for dinner one night and it was great heated up in the microwave for lunch the next couple of days. We’ll be having this one again…if the squash plants recover :(
Below is the glutin-ful, non-vegan version of this recipe- check out Karina’s Kitchen for the other versions…
Summer squash tomato pesto gratin (serves 4)
For the topping:
2 cups bread crumbs
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
dried Italian Herbs or basil/oregano/marjoram, to taste
For the veggies:
3 medium zucchini, sliced in long pieces, 1/4 inch thick (or substitute pattypan or other summer squash)
5 cloves garlic, chopped
a handful of halved artichoke hearts
4 tablespoons prepared basil pesto
2-3 vine ripe tomatoes, sliced thick
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 pinch sea salt, to taste
fresh ground black pepper, to taste
4 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
1. Preheat oven to 350. Lightly oil a gratin dish or large pie plate. (I used a large rectangular pyrex dish.)
2. Put the breadcrumbs in a bowl and toss with a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil to coat. Season with the herbs.
3. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet. Add the zucchini, garlic and artichokes, and sauté briskly just until the zucchini is a bit golden and still tender-crisp. Remove from heat and pour the veggies into a bowl to cool slightly. When cooled, gently toss the zucchini mixture with the prepared basil pesto, to coat. Layer the pesto veggies in the pyrex dish.
4. Spread a scant third of the breadcrumbs on the squash mixture. Layer with slices of mozzarella. Top with sliced tomatoes. Sprinkle the tomatoes lightly with balsamic vinegar. Season with sea salt and pepper. Sprinkle the remaining breadcrumbs over the tomatoes.
5. Bake until bubbly and hot, about 20-25 minutes.
6. Serve alone or on a bed of hot penne pasta tossed with basil pesto.