The Summer Squash Dish That Keeps On Giving
A seasonal recipe to make in bulk for great lunches
I'm super into the awesome summer squash that could not possibly be more abundant right now, especially the giant ones that don't skimp on flavor. That's the beauty of seasonal veggies. I've been tossing out recipes for you to use all week — I even made sure there was a simple, super-squashy recipe in our last test kitchen a couple of weeks ago. I have a secret recipe I make pretty close to a literal ton of and freeze in bricks. But I never eat it by itself.
Squash gratin is definitely a dish that keeps on giving — you can make so much of it. In my humble opinion, having frozen bricks of it on-hand is one of the nicest things you can do for your future self when it looks like all there is in the fridge is...a jar of spaghetti sauce. And hopefully there's pasta somewhere. Or a frozen chicken breast or piece of fish. Add this gratin on top of, under or incorporated into a simple dish and it adds that wonderful sweet vegetable flavor, along with umami richness and yes, healthiness, and suddenly dinnertime isn't so depressing.
All you really need to pull it off is a mandoline or v-slicer and a deep, heavy casserole dish. I usually make it in my cast-iron pot, one-pot meal-style, with a very loose recipe that's basically impossible to screw up. Make your own ratios is my answer to any questions you may have. Ready, go!
Take all your squash and slice it on the mandolin. Ditto a couple of red onions, slice them into nice thin rounds. Heat a tablespoon or so of olive oil in a small cast-iron pot and fry a couple of minced garlic cloves for a few minutes. Remove from heat, preheat oven to 350, add a couple of sprigs of thyme to the bottom and start layering as follows: onions, squash, sprinkle of coarsely shredded parmesan, sprinkle of chopped parsley.
Repeat until you reach the top of the pot, then pour in enough chicken stock to slightly moisten the whole thing and provide some cooking liquid, and top with the rest of the cheese and a thick layer of breadcrumbs. I used leftover French onion soup instead of chicken stock last time, and it made a huge difference.
Bake uncovered for about an hour to an hour and a half until it looks like no more liquid is bubbling within, then remove and allow to cool completely — completely! It will turn into squashy oniony nonsense if you try to dig into this thing before it's cool. It will take several hours. After several hours, cut it into portions, wrap well in foil and store in the freezer. It's great paired with ricotta on top of spaghetti with a little sausage, awesome as a topping for a panini or baguette sandwich, you can even scramble it with eggs for an easy brunch. Use this secret weapon, this brick of awesomeness, this ray of summer sunshine in the cold fall and winter months, my friends. And you thought it was just another gourd.
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