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CSA Week 7 Recipe: Zucchini, New Potato and Pesto Gratin

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July 16, 2012 by Sara Kreidler

Each week, I post either a cooking or canning recipe that uses the week’s featured CSA ingredient.  Please excuse my chronic tardiness.

We are in the thick of the annual zucchini glut; that’s when we have no fewer than 97 zucchini in the fridge at any given moment.  We love zucchini, but using them up is a challenge, especially because they don’t hold up well to the heat required for preservation by canning. So this week, I’m sharing a recipe that uses up 2 large zucchini in one dish.

One of the other virtues of this recipe is its flexibility. I’ve made this recipe twice in the last week, once with traditional basil pesto and once with garlic scape pesto; both were great.  The first time I used pre-made breadcrumbs that I had stashed in my freezer (simply stale baguette that I had whirled in the food processor until the breadcrumbs were fine, like sand), and the second time I made “fresh” breadcrumbs from 4 slices of stale, hearty wheat bread — these bread crumbs I crumbled by hand so that some were fine and others were large. I prefered the second batch of breadcrumbs because they big pieces had more of a crunch, but both methods yielded good results.  Also, if I had yellow squash on hand, I would definitely add it to the mix (just reduce the amount of zucchini so that it all fits in the dish).  You can switch up the cheeses too — parmesan, asiago, gruyere — whatever you have on hand will work great.

Adapted from 101 Cookbooks

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 4 slices of good quality, stale whole wheat bread (or 2 cups of pre-made breadcrumbs)
  • 2 very large zucchini, sliced thin (about 1/4 inch)
  • 3 or 4 new potatoes, scrubbed and sliced paper thin
  • 1 cup of pesto (can be traditional basil pesto or garlic scape pesto, or some other kind of pesto; whatever you have on hand or prefer will work just fine)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan (or asiago, gruyere, or some combination thereof)

 

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Pour the olive oil into a 9×9 gratin dish (or another deep baking dish) and rub the oil around so that the oil is coating all of the interior sides of the dish.  Set aside.
  2. If you are making your breadcrumbs from scratch and the bread isn’t completely stale yet, you can lightly toast it for a few minutes to further dry it out.  Place the dry bread in a large bowl and break it up using you hands. You want some of the bread crumbs to be fine (like sand) and some to be large (like pebbles).  This will yield about 2 cups of breadcrumbs.  Alternatively, you can use 2 cups of pre-made breadcrumbs.
  3. Melt the butter in a small pan over medium flame. Continue to cook the butter until it browns and becomes fragrant and nutty, watching it closely because butter can go from “browned” to “burnt” somewhat quickly. Turn off heat and add breadcrumbs to the butter, stirring to make sure all of the butter is absorbed by the breadcrumbs,
  4. In a large mixing bowl, combine the zucchini, potatoes, pesto, salt and chile flakes and mix well until the veggies are completely coated in the pesto. Add half of the breadcrumb and butter mixture to the bowl and mix well. Pour the veggies into the oiled gratin dish and top with the parmesan cheese. Top that with the remaining breadcrumbs.
  5. Bake gratin for 60 minutes, or until the veggies in the center of the dish are hot and tender. Keep an eye on the breadcrumbs while the gratin is baking; if they are getting too dark (especially around the edges) you can use a fork to rake the breadcrumbs around a bit, or you can very loosely cover the dish with foil for the remainder of the baking time (don’t cover it tightly or you will steam the veggies and the breadcrumb topping will turn mushy instead of being crunchy.
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