1. It makes a great side dish for meat, poultry, or fish. OR, it's wonderful as a vegetarian main dish.
2. You can assemble the components in advance.
3. You can make it in an hour.
4. It's perfect for when you are really hungry and need something diet friendly.
5. It makes great leftovers.
6. It's healthy.
7. It has cheese.
8. You can customize it.
9. It's pretty.
10. I get to use my awesome cast iron gratin pan I scored at the Williams-Sonoma outlet.
Take a closer look......
3 medium sized zucchini squash, cut into 2 inch pieces
3 yellow summer squash, cut into 2 inch pieces
2 t chopped fresh basil
2 t chopped fresh oregano
1 T chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/4 t crushed red pepper, rubbed together between your hands to bring out the flavor
salt and pepper to taste
1 egg, beaten
1 Roma or other smallish tomato, thinly sliced
1 oz cheddar, Gruyere, or Swiss cheese, grated
1/2 oz Parmesan cheese, grated
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Bring a large sauce pan of water to a boil. Add the zucchini and summer squash pieces, bring the pot back to a boil, and simmer for 10 minutes.
Strain the pan into a colander. Dump the cooked squash pieces into a heat proof bowl and roughly mash the pieces with a potato masher. You still want to have large pieces, so don't over mash.
Dump the mashed pieces back into the colander and drain off the extra liquid.
Combine the squash, herbs, red pepper, salt and pepper, and egg into a baking dish and stir to evenly distribute everything. My gratin dish is 11 x 8. An 8 x8 Pyrex would be perfect.
Add the tomato slices. Tuck some of the slices under the mixture, and top the mixture with the rest of the slices.
Place the dish into the preheated oven and bake uncovered for 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes, remove the dish, and top with the cheeses and return it, uncovered, to the oven for 20 minutes. At the end of 20 minutes, if the cheese is not brown enough, turn on your broiler, raise the rack, and place the dish under the broiler. Stay close by and remove the dish when the cheese is how you like it.
This recipe is easily scaled. I also think it would be wonderful in little individual gratin dishes.