A Southern Grace: gratins are great.

November 23, 2015

gratins are great.


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
(printable recipe)
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.


Angie's Recipes said...

When I think of gratin, the golden brown crust and oozy cheese have first come to my mind. Yours looks amazing, Grace.

Pam said...

Nice dish but I'd really like to get my hands on the pup, he's adorable! Here's hoping he gets a turkey leg for Thanksgiving. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Alicia Foodycat said...

Love a gratin!

Such an adorable pup.

Food Gal said...

I love gratins of any sort. I mean, once you have creamy, cheesy goodness and crispy wonderful bits, what's not to love?

Pam said...

I love gratins! This one is making me drool... yum!

Your pup is adorable.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Delicious, I'm sure! Gratins are awesome.

What a cute dog.



Barbara said...

You are so right, Grace! I love gratins. Just about any kind, too. This one looks delish.
Happy dog with his stuffed toy...made me smile.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving, Grace!

Marjie said...

Oh, your little buddy is so cute, hunting up the container all by himself, and making sure his squirrel gets a nap. Oh, and your squash gratin looks really good, too. But then, what's not to love when cheese is involved? Happy Thanksgiving, Grace and family.

Big Rigs 'n Lil' Cookies said...

I've always been afraid of baked summer squash. I have some fear of what the texture will be. I need to suck it up, be tough, and try this. I mean really... You have a bread crumb topping and cheese in the dish, It's gotta be awesome.
I'm trusting you... I'll let ya know how it goes over.

Unknown said...

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Unknown said...

Yum! I love the recipe! I love your dog! Looks adorable!

Happy Thanksgiving!

foodhoe said...

Gratins are a win, we just tried making one from swiss chard, it came out well, squash sounds better! Your little pup is so totally adorable, youngsters are so sweet when they sleep. Happy holidays!

Unknown said...

YES TO GRATIN! I love your cute pet!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Beth said...

Gratins are fabulous, and this one is no exception - such a delicious and beautiful side dish!
Hope you had a great Thanksgiving.

Kate @ Framed Cooks said...

Your gratin looks and sounds delicious (as usual!) but your dog is even more delicious - what a cutie!!!

lisa is cooking said...

Cheese, butter, crusty breadcrumb topping, how can you go wrong with a gratin? You can't. The basil sounds lovely in this one. And, your puppy is so cute I can't stand it.

Deb Wolf said...

As I scrolled down your page I wanted to pin everything. Beautiful site with my kind of recipes. AND who doesn't love a little sarcasm and a puppy here and there. I've liked and followed all your media sites. So glad to have found you. Blessings!