Summer Squash Gratin

I woke up today to a tornado watch.  During a quiz in my first class there was rumbling thunder and roaring wind.  My second class was quieter, with just the patter of rain against the window.  In my final class the wind and thunder picked up again.  A classmate off-handedly asked if we were still under a tornado watch after a particularly loud boom.  It turned out we were under a tornado warning, and a funnel cloud had been spotted 15 miles away.  The class then debated the merits of finishing the lecture or canceling lecture and heading to the basement for cover.  Surprisingly enough, the class decided to stay, continue lecture and close the door to the noise of people running for cover.  While I sat there debating walking out of lecture and joining the crowd for safety, another professor knocked on the door and informed us we were required to join the clamoring group.  I promptly packed up my bag and filed to the basement, where minutes later the “all clear” went out.

I proceeded outside hoping another storm burst or tornado didn’t strike me while I walked (quickly) the 7 minutes to my lab.  Fortunately, I made it to lab fairly dry with enough time to set my stuff down before another tornado siren went off.  I promptly grabbed my computer, phone and wallet and alerted my labmates I was heading to the basement. I made it down the 5 flights of stairs just in time to be told that all was clear.

Needless to say, today was a little frazzling.  On the positive side I get to share this wonderful recipe for a summer squash gratin with you.  It is delicious.  The summer squash and potatoes melt in you mouth, with the breadcrumbs providing a crunch.  Take a break from your tornado-infused day (or whatever frazzling day you had) and enjoy this dish for dinner.

Summer Squash Gratin

adapted from 101 Cookbooks 
2 cups arugula
1 medium garlic clove
1/4 cup walnuts
1/3 cup of olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
zest of one lemon
1 1/2 summer squash, cut into paper-thin slices*
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup shredded Swiss cheese
 1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup of bread crumbs
1/2 lb Yukon gold potatoes, cut into paper-thin slices*

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Add the garlic clove to the bowl of a food processor (or blender) and pulse until finely minced.  Scrape the sides of the bowl down and add the arugula and walnuts.  Pulse until well-combined and chopped.  Turn on the food processor (or blender) and slowly drizzle in the olive oil while it’s running.**  Process until it’s between a paste and sauce.  Set aside.

In a large bowl toss together the summer squash, potatoes, lemon zest, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 a cup of the arugula pesto and Swiss cheese.  Mix everything together so that the summer squash and potatoes are coated.  Drizzle a little olive oil in the bottom of a casserole dish and pour in the summer squash and potatoes.

Over med-low heat melt the butter.  Add the breadcrumbs and stir together.  Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the top of the summer squash and potatoes.  Place the dish into the oven for 40 to 50 minutes, until the breadcrumbs are golden brown and the vegetables are cooked through.  Serve with a fresh, tart salad and enjoy.

*A mandolin works great here.  At least that what a lot of blogs tell me.  I don’t have one, so make them as thin as I can with my trusty chef’s knife.  The dish is still delicious.  Just make sure the slices are all about the same size, so the squash does not turn to mush.

**I like my pesto thick, so I stop before its “soupy.”  I think the thicker pesto is better for pizza and I can always add more olive oil to a recipe if it’s too thick.  This pesto keeps great in the freezer if you have extra.


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