Sunday, July 12, 2009
I used to think of myself as a spring/fall girl. At least, that's what I always told people. I feel like I come alive in April and October with its golden sunsets and apple pies has that certain ephemeral charm. But I think I might have been wrong. People, I think I am an undercover summer lover.
Maybe it's just that this particular summer has me bewitched. This summer's been simply glorious. I don't remember skies ever being quite this blue or the breeze being quite this gentle. The temperature hovers around a perfect 80F and the farmers' markets are bursting with plump, velvety cherries and red-cheeked nectarines. It all has my head spinning just a little.
This gratin was the product of my Saturday morning farmers' market loot and it just tastes like July and picnics in the park and lazy dinners on the porch. Unlike the hearty, cheesy potato gratins we all love when the thermometer dips, this is light and bright with flavors, the soft zucchini and summer squash getting a little zing from a sprinkling of feta and a dash of lemon juice. If, like me, summer has you firmly in its hold, this dish will hit just the right the spot.
Zucchini & Summer Squash Gratin
serves about 4-6
2 summer squash
1 cup milk
4 oz feta cheese, crumbled
2 teaspoons dried or fresh thyme
1 tbsp lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
Turn the oven to 350F and butter and 8x8 in. baking dish or 4 individual baking dishes. Slice the zucchini and the squash into thin slices, about 1/4 of an inch. Toss the vegetables with the lemon juice.
Make a layer of the slices on the bottom of the baking dish, overlapping each piece. I made separate layers of zucchini and separate layers of squash, but it doesn't matter, you can mix it up. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Continue until you have layered about half of the vegetables. Then, spread half of the feta on top. Continue layering until the vegetables reach just below the top of the baking dish. Sprinkle with some more salt and pepper. Depending on the size of the vegetables, you may have some slices left over; roast them and throw them into a pasta later.
Whisk the eggs and milk together and pour over the gratin. The liquid should almost cover the vegetables. Then, spread the rest of the feta on top and sprinkle with thyme. Bake until the vegetables are tender and the filling is set, about an hour (the filling will puff, but don't worry, it will settle down once you take it out of the oven).