Oh me oh my, if there’s a prettier word than gratin, I surely can’t think of it right now. I’m sure I’ve said that before about other food words, other dishes, but truly when there is a layer of anything encased in creaminess and topped with cheese and baked then I am all in. There is some liquid released by the zucchini as it bakes; that’s just fine – it’s in fact wonderfully flavorful, which is why you should serve this Baby Zucchini Gratin alongside a plain starch, such as rice, which will soak up the extra sauciness.
If you can’t find official “baby” squash, get the smaller ones you can. Bigger and more mature squash have quite a bit of liquid in them, which will (as mentions) release during the baking process. You’ll get a much less watery gratin if you use firmer, smaller squash – try to find ones that are no bigger than 1 1/2 inches in diameter.
Another way to go about it, if all you have are larger squash, is to slice your squash lengthwise, and scrape out the seeds from the middle – like you would a cucumber. Then slice it into half moons, and proceed. If you use larger squash make sure the texture of the squash itself is firm, not at all spongey.
Summer squash (the yellow ones) are just fine to sub in for the zucchini, though the color of the dish will be more homogenous. A mix of colors would be really nice, and while I haven’t tried it yet, I might mix in a sliced small Japanese eggplant as well.
All of that said, do look for those cute baby squash. If you find baby pattypan squash, you could also cut them into quarters, or if they are very small, halve them horizontally – those would look very cute peeking out from the creamy gratin sauce.
Baby Zucchini Gratin
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons minced shallots
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 pounds baby zucchini trimmed and very thinly sliced
- 1 ½ cups grated Gruyere
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly butter a shallow 2 quart baking dishes, or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a large bowl whisk together the cream, garlic, shallots, thyme, salt and pepper. Add the sliced zucchini and use a rubber spatula to combine until the zucchini is all well coated with the cream mixture. Turn the zucchini into the prepared baking pan. Sprinkle the grated cheese on top.
- Bake for about 45 minutes until the cheese is nicely browned and the casserole is bubbling around the edges. Let sit for about 5 minutes then serve hot.
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