I am not a vegetarian. However, I do eat a primarily plant-based diet Monday through Friday (run, pigs, run when the weekend arrives). And I love, love, love summer and its bounty of vegetables at the farmers markets. Despite this love of all things green, grilling/steaming/salading (ha…I made that up) vegetables can get a little boring.
This recipe is one of my all time favorite summer recipes. I’ve increased the amounts of almost everything from the original recipe. I don’t just use green zucchini (the most popular summer squash), but yellow squash and any other interesting variety I might find. I’ve added beans to make it more of an entree, because who wants to go through all of this work for a side dish and THEN have to make an entree. I’m not saying this is a difficult to make dish….its actually quite easy. But there is a lot of slicing/chopping/baking going on. It is hearty enough to fool my meat loving husband into a meatless dinner….without complaining! I make this for 2 or 3 people at dinner, then have a few days of yummy lunches leftover.
Summer Squash and Tomato Gratin (adapted from Gourmet)
From the original recipe I substituted brown rice for white, added white beans and upped the squash/tomatoes/cheese. Feel free to try another grain (perhaps farro or quinoa) and let me know how it works for you. You can prepare the tomatoes and rice up to 2 days in advance.
Serves 4-6 as an entree, 8-10 as a side dish, or 2 besties drinking a bottle or two of rose….
1/2 cup (100 grams) brown rice (or you can buy 1 1/2 cups of it already cooked from an asian restaurant)
1 large onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
5 tablespoons (75ml) olive oil, divided
1 recipe oven roasted tomatoes (I prefer to use grape tomatoes for this recipe….they don’t let off as much liquid, which can make the dish soggy)
2 1/2 – 3 pounds (1.25-1.5 kilos) summer squash, sliced 1/4 inch thick (I like using a variety of yellow and green summer squash)
1 1/2 cups (425 grams) cooked white beans (or 1 15 oz can, rinsed and drained well)
3/4 cup (75 grams) freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme (leaves from about 2 sprigs), plus more for garnish
salt and pepper
In a small pan with lid cook brown rice as per package instructions. When cooked, transfer to a mixing bowl and allow to cool. In same pan as rice was cooked, sautee onion and garlic in 2 tablespoons (30ml) olive oil until onions are translucent but not browned, about 10 minutes. Add mixing bowl with rice and let cool slightly. Then stir in beans, thyme, salt and pepper to rice and onion mixture.
Next, stir in beaten eggs and 1/2 cup of the parmesan cheese, then set aside while preparing squash.
Place sliced zucchini in a large mixing bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons (30ml) olive oil.
Now, you can either lightly grill the zucchini until tender (about 2-3 minutes per side) or place on 2 parchment lined baking sheets and bake at 450 degrees fahrenheit for 15-20 minutes until tender. Allow to cool slightly.
Using last tablespoon (15ml) of olive oil, oil a 9 x 13 inch baking dish or a 12 inch oven proof skillet (I love using my 12 inch cast iron skillet). Layer 1/2 of the zucchini and 1/2 of the tomatoes over the bottom.
On top of the first layer of veggies add the rice and bean mixture….
Then layer the remaining zucchini, then tomatoes on top of the rice. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese. At this point, you can bake (see below) or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 6 hours.
Bake at 450 degrees fahrenheit (232 degrees celsius) for about 20 minutes, until top starts to brown. If you assembled ahead of time and refrigerated, let sit at room temperature 30 minutes before baking.
Serve while hot or room temp, garnished with additional thyme if desired. Leftovers, if you have any, can be kept in a covered plastic container for 2-3 days. Reheats best in microwave.