How do you define a gratin? Wikipedia says it's an ingredient topped with a browned crust, often using breadcrumbs, grated cheese, and butter, usually prepared in a shallow dish of some kind. That covers a lot of ground, I'd say.
It seems I don't often set out to make a gratin, but that's just silliness on my part, as topping any dish with buttered bread crumbs and cheese automatically improves it exponentially. That's definitely true of squash, which needs a bit of help in delivering a flavorful punch, especially when they're not in season. I was actually surprised to still see yellow summer squash and zucchini in the grocery store, but they're there, at least in NC.
This sort of side dish is a great accompaniment to so many things--pork loin, flank steak, chicken fingers, baked ham, and I'm just gonna go ahead and stop right there, though I could certainly keep going. The squash becomes creamy after it bakes and that just makes the awesomely crunchy topping even more excellent. Sadly, this marks the last of our basil, but what a send-off--the basil sauce adds a freshness and punch that really completes this dish.
99% of you already have your Thanksgiving menus planned out, and that's great. Make this tomorrow instead. :)
Squash Gratin for the Win
Serves 8 or so
- 1-1/2 to 2 pounds summer squash, sliced very thinly (break out that mandoline!)
- 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided use
- 1/2 cup basil
- 1 large garlic clove, chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 2 cups bread crumbs
- 3/4 cup shredded cheese, something like pepper jack is awesome
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Place the squash slices in a colander in the sink and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Toss to combine and let drain for 10-15 minutes.
While the squash is draining, puree the basil, garlic, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, red pepper flakes, and olive oil in a food processor. Set aside.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Let cook until it turns brown and starts to smell nutty. Wait two minutes and then stir the breadcrumbs into the browned butter.
Transfer the squash to a large mixing bowl. Toss with the basil sauce, half the breadcrumbs, and cheese until well combined. Add seasoning, if needed.
Pour into a greased 2-quart casserole dish and top with the remaining breadcrumbs. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until bubbly and browned.
|Crazy eyes. Also, we have no idea where he found this container.|
|He'd tell you to have a great Thanksgiving, but he's already sacked out with his favorite squeaky squirrel.|