Summer Squash Gratin

September 3, 2007

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Summer squash is one of nature’s bountiful blessings. You can pickle it, sauté it, put it in everything from cakes to salads to breads. This simple gratin is crunchy and rich and wonderful, especially if you make your own breadcrumbs. It’s a great entrée for a vegetarian dinner, and if you’re lucky enough to have leftovers, you’ll have a ready-made lunch for the next day. SAM

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 medium sweet onions
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 pound summer squash (crook-neck or zucchini), trimmed and thinly sliced
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon dry sherry
2 ounces log goat’s cheese
2 ounces water
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon unseasoned breadcrumbs, divided
Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease an 8-inch baking dish and set aside. In a medium chef’s pan over low heat, sweat the onions, covered, for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and continue sweating until translucent, about 15 additional minutes. Meanwhile, in a large chef’s pan over medium heat, cook the squash with the bay leaf in 1 tablespoon oil, covered, for 15 minutes. Uncover, raise the heat to medium-high, and sauté, stirring frequently, until liquid is reduced, about 10 minutes. Add the sherry and reduce, about 2 minutes. Discard the bay leaf. In a small saucepan over very low heat, combine the goat’s cheese and water, stirring until melted. Combine the onion-garlic mixture, squash, melted goat’s cheese, feta, parsley, and 1/3 cup breadcrumbs. Season with salt and pepper. Turn into the prepared baking dish, sprinkle with the remaining breadcrumbs and remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until browned.
Makes 2 main or 4 side servings.

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Zucchini Carpaccio

August 15, 2007

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Here’s another fabulous way to serve summer zucchini. If you have a very sharp knife and fine motor control, you can slice them by hand. Otherwise, you’ll need a slicer, like a mandoline or the inexpensive and wonderful Feemster Slicer. You can serve Zucchini Carpaccio on their own, or add avocado or tomato for a larger salad. SAM

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
8 (4 to 5-inch/2-ounce) zucchini, trimmed
1 tablespoon pine nuts, toasted
Chopped parsley
Shaved Parmesan

In a small glass, whisk together the vinegar, oil, and salt. With a slicer or sharp knife, cut the zucchini into very thin strips. Spread on a plate and drizzle with the vinegar mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate at room temperature for 1 hour. Arrange on salad plates with the marinade and top with pine nuts, parsley, and Parmesan.
Makes 4 servings.