Gratin (gra-TAN) is a fancy word for any dish cooked in a shallow pan. Usually topped with breadcrumbs, cheese, and butter, the potato gratin is a common variation that you’re probably most familiar with (and, to be fair, that box-top recipe for “potatoes au gratin” is actually pretty good).
With high summer winding down, Eggplant, Zucchini, Summer/Yellow Squash, and Tomato are plentiful. Bring them all together to create something beautiful, resourceful, and appetizing. Use one, two, or all four of the vegetables mentioned below to turn summer veg into something that’s worth eating.
FOR THE GRATIN:
- 2 Eggplants
- We used Globe Eggplants which is the common variety you’ll find in most supermarkets.
- 2-4 Zucchini
- 2-4 Summer/Yellow Squash
- 4-6 Medium, or 2-3 Large Tomatoes
- 2 Cups Panko Bread Crumbs
- 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
- 2 Tablespoons Table Salt
- 2 Tablespoons Fresh Ground Black Pepper.
- 2 Teaspoons Garlic Powder
- 2 Tablespoons Chopped, Fresh Basil (optional)
- 1/2 Cup Finely Shredded Parmesan Cheese (optional)
GET CHEFFY TIP!– This vegetable side dish has a unique flavor profile that we wanted to keep plain. However, if you’re feeling Cheffy, herbs (dried or fresh) will bring additional layers of flavor to your gratin. Rosemary, Thyme, and whole leaves of Basil layered into the dish can all be added. Additionally, if you can’t find all vegetables mentioned, or don’t care for one that we used, omit that vegetable completely, or use all of just one vegetable for an “all Eggplant” gratin if that’s what your family likes. The gratin police will not arrest you.
- Begin by turning your oven to 450 degrees. While your oven pre-heats, take two of your largest sheet trays, and line with parchment paper. Prep your Eggplant by slicing off their green tops, and then slicing the remaining Eggplant into 1/2 inch discs. Line these discs up on a sheet tray(s) and turn to your Zucchini and Summer/Yellow Squash. Due to their smaller size, cut your Zucchini and Summer/Yellow squash into lengthwise planks after removing their tops. A safe way to stabilize these cylinder shaped vegetables for cutting is to carefully make your first plank, and then turn your vegetable with that cut side facing down to anchor it while you cut your remaining planks. Slice all of your Zucchini and Summer/Yellow Squash into large, 1/2 inch planks and line up on your sheet tray(s). Take your 1/4 cup olive oil, and brush all sides of your vegetables with the oil. Generously salt and pepper the oiled sides of your vegetables, and then flip them over to repeat the process on the other side so that all sections of your vegetables have a generous layer of oil, salt, and pepper on them. Reserve any unused oil and keep your tomatoes out of the oven (your tomatoes are the only veg that aren’t in the game yet).
- Put your sheet tray(s) in the 450 degree oven for 10-15 minutes. After the first 10-15 minutes, remove both sheet trays and, using tongs or a small spatula, carefully flip all of your vegetables so the side that was facing up, is now facing downwards, touching the sheet tray. Put your sheet tray(s) back into the oven rotating their positions (the tray that was on your bottom oven rack goes to the top, and the tray that was on your top rack goes to the bottom). Cook for another 10-15 minutes, depending on your oven strength. Once cooked, remove your sheet tray(s) from the oven, but keep your oven at 450 degrees. Allow your vegetables to cool while you prepare your gratin dish.
- While your cooked vegetables cool, slice your tomatoes into 1/4-1/2 discs and then slice those discs in half to create a “half moon” shape. Once completed, prepare your gratin dish by brushing 1-2 tablespoon(s) of oil on the interior of a 13X9 pyrex, or other cooking vessel. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of garlic powder into your oiled dish and brush the garlic powder along the bottom, and sides, of the gratin dish to ensure even coating. Begin to layer your vegetables starting with your Eggplant. Cut the Eggplant discs into “half moon” shapes, similar to the tomatoes, and layer these halves, on a bias/slant, with the skin-side facing up. You’ll want to layer all vegetables on a bias (not directly on top of each other) so that the skin of each vegetable is visible and showing. After your first layer of Eggplant, place a layer of your Summer/Yellow Squash next to it, followed with a layer of Zucchini and a layer of Tomato. Repeat this process until all of your vegetables are layered, on a bias, in your gratin dish. Sprinkle your remaining 1 teaspoon of garlic powder onto the top of all vegetables and gently brush to ensure even coating. Take your two cups of panko breadcrumbs and place into a bowl. Pour your remaining olive oil over your panko and gently work the panko around in the bowl with your hands until all of the crumbs are coated with oil. Top your gratin generously with these oiled breadcrumbs and, if using, your 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese.
- Place your gratin back into your 450 degree oven and bake for 8-10 minutes; rotate your dish after 8-10 minutes and check the panko topping (it’ll more than likely need more time). Cook for 8-10 minutes more, or until the panko have achieved a uniform golden brown color. Top with chopped basil, and serve.
GET CHEFFY TIP!- “What’s with all the breadcrumbs?”- The primary reason our Gratin is “heavy handed” with the bread crumbs is to bring a difference in texture. Cooked vegetables have a unique, and appealing taste, but sometimes lack any bite, or resistance under the tooth. You can omit the bread crumbs if you’d like, but don’t send us angry emails when your family refuses to eat this, and begs you to call Dominos instead….we warned you.