I’m a self described cold weather lover. When everyone else around me is complaining about snow in late October (and in March and sometimes April), I am in my glory. And when the thermostat creeps up during the summer months, people seem to always say “Don’t complain about the heat! Remember the five feet of snow just a few months ago?!”. Why yes, yes, I do. Lucky for me, living in upstate New York means that I will get to see my beloved fluffy white snow and experience the chilly temperatures soon enough. But while I may not love the heat and humidity, I do love that summer means an abundance of fresh, local produce. I try and eat a vegetable heavy diet, but this time of year means local farms bring all their goodies to various farmer’s markets around the city. Yay!
Last weekend I came upon an absolutely ridiculous deal on yellow squash at the public market. Four for a dollar. I mean, how could I pass that deal up?! I planned to just sauté some of them and add the rest to a veggie soup (<– my favorite way to use up vegetables languishing in my crisper), but then Vani Hari posted a recipe for a summer squash casserole on her website and I thought it was just too serendipitous to pass up. You are heating up the oven for this dish, so try and make this on a day where it’s not 90 degrees outside, so your A/C doesn’t have to work overtime!
This is great alternative to a traditional gratin, which is often made with heavy cream, butter, and tons of cheese. This is a lightened up version that really lets the flavor of the squash shine through. Serving amounts are listed for side dish portions, but I definitely ate a main dish serving the night I made this. Good thing it’s clean and relatively guilt free, so you can satisfy those casserole cravings all summer long!
summer squash gratin.
slightly adapted from The Food Babe.
3 cups yellow summer squash (about 3-4 medium squash), sliced into half-moons
1/2 large onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup grated swiss cheese (can also substitute provolone or mild cheddar)
1/2 cup milk (I use unsweetened coconut)
1/2 cup whole or sprouted wheat breadcrumbs (see note below)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon grape seed or olive oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Heat a large non stick skillet over medium heat and add oil. When oil is shimmering, add diced onion and garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes until slightly softened and onion is translucent and fragrant. Add squash and cook until slightly soft and tender, about 3-4 minutes. Be careful to not burn garlic.
While the vegetables are cooking, add the egg, milk, cheese, pepper, cayenne and salt in a small bowl. Whisk together until well combined.
Add vegetables to an oval or 8×8 baking dish and pour the liquid/cheese mixture on top. Top with the breadcrumbs, and cook uncovered in the oven for 25-35 minutes. Remove and serve immediately. Serves 4-6 as a side.
Note: I typically use sprouted grain bread to make my breadcrumbs. As I typically freeze bread, I put two thawed sliced under the broiler until browned. Cool and process in the food processor until you have breadcrumbs. Two slices will yield about a 1/2 cup.
**Please use organic ingredients wherever possible**