I would really like to just call this a casserole, because I’m not even sure how to pronounce “gratin” in real life (apparently it’s like “gra-ta,” losing the n at the end if you want to be really French), but since I’m writing this post and not making a speech about it, we’ll just go with gratin.
Hi. I hope you had a good weekend.
Yesterday, I had a mini life epiphany and realized I was eating waaaaaaaaay too much cake. Cake, frozen in my freezer or cold from my fridge, slivers of leftover cinnamon brioche, banana quinoa muffins that weren’t quite ready for big-time and peach pie muffins have been flooding my kitchen and making their way into my mouth. I think of myself as a healthy eater, generally, but having cake for half of every meal? Enough is enough.
So I went on a huge grocery shopping spree on Sunday and bought a ton of fresh produce–tomatoes, cucumber, squash, broccoli, carrots, spinach, asian pears, oranges, clementines, peaches, plums and bananas. Plus some chickpeas, water chestnuts and sardines for good measure. Also two pints of ice cream. (But…those were supposed to be a secret.)
I made Smitten Kitchen’s DELICIOUS spinach and chickpeas for dinner:
it felt totally wholesome and hearty and one of the more delicious, easy things I’ve made in awhile. While I was eating my chickpeas, I also this gratin in the oven for lunches and dinners throughout the week. This tomato, squash, cheesy onion goodness is so fragrant and flavorful from the faintly carmelized, cooked down onions and all around fresh-tasting from the succulent tomatoes, toothsome, chunky squash and little juicy gems of sweet corn. The little croutons of toasted bread on top give it a hearty kick and the cheesy, eggy mixture is a satisfying way to bind everything together–way lighter than a quiche filling. It’s definitely a low calorie winner.
I am happy to say that overall, the night was a cooking success! As in, I cannot wait for lunch tomorrow.
Although I would dearly love to own a food processor, or even a blender, I’ve realized that not having one is kind of a blessing. I can simplify recipes without having one and still turn out great products without having to wash all those complicated food processing parts.
This recipe originally called for homemade bread crumbs made crumb-y by a food processor. I chose to sprinkle the gratin with toasted bread cubes and think it works just as well. It also called for red onion and bell peppers, which I subbed with a large yellow onion, cooked until slightly carmelized, because that’s what I had. I think it brings a beautiful flavor to the gratin. This recipe just seems super flexible to me. It called for fresh basil and garlic, I used dried basil and left out the garlic because I’m iffy about garlic. I think the onion added plenty of flavor. It called for yellow squash, but I used calabaza, because they looked better at the store. I used lemon pepper because, embarrassingly, I don’t own black pepper.
I was running low on eggs so I used 2 instead of 3 and I think it was almost better for it. I didn’t de-seed the tomatoes because I hate wasting parts, and the end product was perhaps a little juicy, but nothing tragic.
Tomato and Squash Gratin
Adapted from CookingLight
4 tsp oil, divided
1 large yellow or white onion, chopped
3 1/2 cups calabaza squash, cut into 1/4″ thick slices (about 3 medium-small or 2 large)
1 ear of corn, kernels sliced off (or 1/2 to 1 cup canned corn)
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1 tsp dried basil
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp lemon pepper
1/2 cup milk (I used Silk unsweetened almond)
3/4 cup shredded cheese (I used an Italian blend)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2-3 small slices bread, chopped into cubes
4 roma tomatoes, cut into 1/4 thick slices
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray an 11 x 7″ glass or ceramic baking dish with cooking spray.
1) Heat a large nonstick pan over medium heat. Coat pan in 3 teaspoons oil. Add onion and cook for 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until browned and slightly translucent. Add squash slices and cook for another 5-6 minutes, or until squash is slightly translucent and browned in spots. Stir in the corn just before removing squash mixture from heat. Remove from heat and transfer squash mixture to a large bowl. Stir in quinoa, basil, 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper.
2) Place the pan back on the stove over medium heat. Coat pan with remaining 1 teaspoon of oil. Add the bread cubes and stir until the bread is evenly coated; season with salt and pepper if desired. Let the bread toast, stirring occasionally, while preparing the rest of the gratin.
3) Combine remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, milk, cheese and eggs in another bowl. Pour milk mixture over vegetable mixture, stirring until just combined. Pour mixture into prepared pan.
4) Remove the bread cubes from heat. Arrange the tomato slices over the top of the vegetable mixture in the pan. Top evenly with slightly cooled bread cubes. Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes or until bread cubes are browned and filling is set and bubbling.