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No-Bake Summer Squash Gratin (Sort of)

I meant to post this in August, but since some of us are still experiencing summer heat in September, and the markets still have summer squash (so. much. zucchini!), it seems fitting even now. I’m certainly happy not to be turning my oven on yet.

Squash Gratin For One:

  • 2 small to medium zucchini and/or summer squash
  • small onion or scallion
  • cheddar, grated, about 1/4 cup or more (I say more)
  • basil or thyme or parsley (fresh not dried)
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed a bit
  • breadcrumbs, about 1/4 cup (I based on the amount of squash, so use your judgment)
  • Splash of white wine or dry vermouth (the white one)
  • butter and olive oil

What to do:

Grate one of the squash and dice the other one. Or grate them both, if you prefer. I liked the difference in shape and texture but it is not mandatory. Just a bit of fun. Thinly slice the onion/scallion.

In a big pan, warm a small puddle of olive oil (I suppose this is about 2 Tbs), add in thyme if using (I often just put a few entire stalk of thyme in, then fish them out at the end – no fiddling with getting the little leaves off) and the smashed garlic clove. If you really love garlic, then mince it and wait to add it later. Let the pan and the herb oil warm a bit.

Turn up the heat, add your squash, along with salt and pepper, and let things brown a bit. Stir to keep from burning. If you’re using minced garlic , add it here after a few minutes. Also add a splash of white wine or vermouth to loosen browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Keep an eye on the heat and turn down a bit if things get too dark.

Meanwhile, brown the breadcrumbs in butter in a separate small pan. If you must, you could skip this step but I wouldn’t recommend it. The breadcrumbs really get so much better this way. Just watch them and keep stirring, so they don’t burn. If this makes you nervous, do the breadcrumbs first, before starting the squash, and set them aside for later use.

In your squash pan, if you used the whole clove, remove the garlic (fish it out). Transfer the squash to a deep plate and mix in grated cheddar (you could also use crumbled feta or goat cheese, or colby jack maybe). Also add in other chopped herbs like basil or parsley, if using. Fish out any thyme stalks.

Even out the squash in your plate, then spread the toasted breadcrumbs over the top. If you are feeling fancy, mix crumbs with fresh or dried herbs or Parmesan. Serve immediately, with white wine perhaps or a nice rose.

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