Summer Squash Gratin with Salsa Verde and Gruyere

By • June 10, 2011 • 61 Comments


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Author Notes: Some cooks have a natural gift in the kitchen. My good friend Paula is one such cook. Paula has been a bartender at Prune in New York City, a chef on a ranch in Hill Country, and a cookbook author. Now the senior travel editor for Southern Living, most of her cooking takes place at home.

If you stay at Paula's, there are flowers in your bedroom and freshly made biscuits for breakfast. When I arrived at her house in Austin recently, she had some slices of cured boar salumi laid out on a cutting board, and Riesling chilled.

For dinner, she served a summer squash gratin by Suzanne Goin, a friend of hers. She took the recipe from Suzanne's book, Sunday Suppers at Lucques, and added some chile. Because that's what Texans do. Along with the gratin, Paula passed around a soft cows milk cheese and some bread. Peach pie was for dessert. It was 95 degrees in Austin. Summer squash and peaches were exactly what I wanted to eat.
Amanda Hesser

Serves 4

Salsa Verde

  • 1 teaspoon fresh marjoram or oregano leaves (1/2 teaspoon dried)
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped mint
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 3/4 cups extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 1 anchovy
  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained (rinsed if salt-packed)
  • 1/2 lemon, for juicing
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Gratin

  • 2 pounds summer squash
  • 1 1/2 cup fresh coarse breadcrumbs
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cups sliced shallot
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon thyme leaves
  • 1 New Mexico chile or jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Make the salsa verde. Using a mortar and pestle (or a food processor, I won't tell anyone), pound the herbs to a paste. You may have to do this in batches. Work in some of the olive oil, and transfer the mixture to a bowl. Pound the garlic and anchovy, and add them to the herbs.
  2. Gently pound the capers until they're partially crushed, and add them to the herbs. Stir in the remaining oil, a pinch of black pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice. Taste for balance and seasoning.
  3. Make the gratin. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the squash into 1/8-inch-thick slices. Toss the slices in a large bowl with 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and let sit 10 minutes.
  4. Place the breadcrumbs in a bowl. Heat a small saute pan over medium heat for 1 minute. Swirl in the butter and cook for a few minutes, until it browns and smells nutty. Pour the brown butter over the breadcrumbs (being sure to scrape all the brown bits into the bowl with a rubber spatula). Wait a minute or so for the butter to cool, and toss well.
  5. Drain the squash and transfer it to a large mixing bowl. Add the shallots, minced garlic, thyme, chile, 1/2 cup salsa verde, and some pepper. Toss to combine, and add the cheese and half the butter-coated breadcrumbs. Toss again, and taste for seasoning. (The raw garlic will taste strong at this point but will be delicious when cooked.)
  6. Place the squash in a pretty 9-by-9-inch (or equivalent) gratin dish (I used a skillet). Scatter the remaining breadcrumbs over the top, and bake 35 to 40 minutes, until the squash is tender and the top is crisp.

Comments (61) Questions (6)

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6 months ago Jess

This is perfect! What a lovely dish! I'm having a dinner party next weekend, any ideas for what I should serve it with?

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

6 months ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

A nice roasted chicken: http://food52.com/recipes... -- also a grilled steak would be delicious with it.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

6 months ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Also, best wishes with your party!

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7 months ago kgindermaur

This was excellent! Though I cut back on food prep by buying your typical salsa verde at the grocery store, still delicious! My dinner party guests all had seconds. Thanks, Amanda!

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

7 months ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Great to hear this!

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7 months ago Effie

Thank you Amanda Hesser, this recipe was the bomb!!! I used a mortar & pestle to make the salsa verde (normally I would use the food processor) it was just outstanding; thus satisfying (for me) the food processor vs mortar pestle argument. I'm not a huge fan of summer squash, nor gratin, but every detail - from the brown butter/bread crumb combination, the conservative use of Gruyere, the heat in the salsa verde - was delicious and worth the effort.
I am hosting a special dinner on Friday and this will be on the menu.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

7 months ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Effie, I'm thrilled to hear you liked it so much! Hope your dinner guests on Friday do, as well.

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7 months ago Scribbles

I made this last night and it was amazing! Truly the best squash casserole ever. I didn't have any anchovies nor Gruyere but that didn't stop me. Since we are headed out on vacation in 2 days I'm cleaning out the fridge so I used the cheese that was available: feta, ricotta salata, extra sharp white cheddar and parmesan, hey, it was delicious. Also, I cut back on the oil to just 1/4 cup which made a much smaller amount of salsa and I added the entire batch to the squash. Oh, I used panko crumbs cause that's what I had. It really was easy and delicious and two of us ate the entire recipe with a piece of crispy skin salmon.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

7 months ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

I like your adjustments -- and I bet the sharper cheeses were nice as gruyere is so rich. Seems like everyone wants to cut back on the oil and I may change the recipe. Have a great vacation!

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8 months ago ivalleria

huh. I have also tried a similar recipe from another site, because this dish always sounds and looks delicious this time of year, and just tried this one, and once again, I don't like it. Maybe I just don't like squash gratin. Or my breadcrumbs are too fine. I make them myself from stale bread in the mortar/pestle and they're ok for most purposes, but this dish ends up waaaay too bready, with an unpleasant almost sandy/fizzy taste. And the ratio of cheese to bread seems way low to me. I think the one time I pulled off a good squash gratin in had tons and tons and tons of Gruyere. Also, 40 minutes was undercooked, even in my very hot oven. 10 minutes didn't come close to draining the squash... (oh, wait, I added zucchini too, was that it?) and what were we supposed to do with the other half of the salsa verde? why make so much if we only use half? And needed more garlic. That's my rant. Would I be crazy to try again with a lot less bread, and more time, cheese and garlic? Or should I just conclude this dish is not for me?

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

8 months ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Thanks for your comment. To answer your question about the breadcrumbs, yes, they should be coarse not fine. I just added "coarse" to the ingredient list -- thanks for bringing this to my attention. I think if you use coarse breadcrumbs, it won't turn out bready. Also, I'm wondering about the cooking time -- did you slice the squash thinly? If not, that's the only explanation I can think of for it not being done -- I've made this many times. But perhaps it's also a difference in the pans we use, as well as the oven heat. A mystery! The only point of yours that I don't agree with is the cheese ratio -- this gratin is not supposed to be a cheesy gratin. This may mean that you just don't like this style of gratin, and if so, I'm sorry I couldn't sway you, but hopefully you'll find a squash gratin that you do like. Thanks again for your thoughts!

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8 months ago ivalleria

Thank YOU, Amanda. I should be more upfront about the likelihood of user error. I did not slice the squash thinly enough, you are right. And it's possible that I had too much squash, too. I didn't weight it. I am tempted to try to make this again soon, with the recommended refinements, because a great squash gratin seems like a staple of a summer kitchen. My grocery store makes fresh cilantro and other pestos.... might sub that for the salsa verde in order to make this easier to prep.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

8 months ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

I hear you -- it's definitely not a quick recipe! If you make it with a store-bought pesto, let me know how it goes.

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8 months ago sally

I forgot to buy parsley to make Salsa Verde, so I will subsitute yesterdays pesto. I bet that it will be yummy.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

8 months ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Yes -- good idea.

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8 months ago Dina Moore-Tzouris

How have I missed this recipe in the past? My family loved it! We're all a little mad at Sam, who snuck in the kitchen and ate half the top off while it was cooling. Eating the topping only off the gratin should be a serious infraction! Perfect combo of flavors--a fresh take on gratin with the salsa verde. Loved it.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

8 months ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

It's like stealing the skin off the Thanksgiving turkey -- a food crime!

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9 months ago borntobeworn

I've made this 4 times now and keep thinking that it will get quicker - not happening. It's a wonderful recipe (I add more hot peppers) but it's so time consuming. I just made a double batch for a dinner party in 3 nights - I've assembled it but won't cook it until then. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this will be fine :)

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

9 months ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

It's definitely not quick, I hear you! I find that I like to plan a very simple accompaniment like roast chicken or fish with it.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

9 months ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

I'd love to know how the pre-assembly goes, btw.

Epietzsch

9 months ago borntobeworn

Pre-assembly was awesome! The flavors got to know each other before being cooked. I put it in pyrex casserole dishes, sealed very well with plastic wrap, then covered with foil. I also made braised green beans with roasted peppers the same way the next night: assembled it, covered with plastic & foil. On the day of the party, I removed the plastic & foil from both, put them in a cold oven, and cooked them at 350 for 30 minutes. Totally delicious!!!

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

9 months ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Thanks so much for the follow-up! I'm going to try this as well.

Epietzsch

9 months ago borntobeworn

The one thing I did differently when I pre-assembled and let it sit for days is I used really, really hard bread crumbs. The cafeteria where I work makes their own breadcrumbs that are super hard & firm. I bought about 4 cups of them (I was making a double recipe) and ground them up in the food processor. I think fresh breadcrumbs (as called for in the recipe) would have gotten soggy. I also used about 1/2 the olive oil required & mine was plenty moist but not soggy :)

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10 months ago skm818

This recipe was truly time consuming, and I was surprised I wasn't happy with my results. I used about a tsp. of dried thyme flakes...still too much. I'm sure recipe meant fresh, but I didn't have. I used less capers, one anchovy, less oil and less mint. It resulted in a bitter salsa, which I then realized I mistakenly had added the small garlic clove to. I love Gruyere, so that wasn't the problem. It was just bitter. I then added a bit of mayo mixed with yogurt and then topped with some of the crumb/brown butter mixture combined with a bit of the cheese. This helped quite a bit. I suppose my mistakes caused my dish to be inferior. Or I just don't like anchovy & capers...not sure.

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9 months ago viblanco

I just made this recipe and maybe I have some insight to understand why yours was bitter. I was a bit concerned when the salsa seemed a tad bit bitter. But, really, it was very similar to pesto and no bitterness came through after baking.
I'm wondering if the bitterness was the result of your squash since old summer squash can be incredibly bitter. Make sure that you have fresh squash (on the small side).
At any rate, I want to point out that this dish was very delicious. I made a few adjustments (less oil, no anchovy, lime instead of lemon) based on what I had available. I suggest serving with fresh sliced tomatoes. Good luck.

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9 months ago skm818

The summer squash I used was just picked and excellent. I used some the next day with another recipe and it was great. I'm sure if I'd left off the anchovies as did you, it wouldn't have been bitter. I had organic capers, recent.y purchased...they may also have contributed to the bitterness, but I think it was the anchovies.

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9 months ago viblanco

Ah. Well, I'm glad you got to enjoy your remaining squash the next day in another dish. :)

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over 1 year ago Pegeen

Thank you for a new squash recipe. Made this a few times, everyone loves it. Use food processor not mortar and pestle. As others here said, needs much less oil about half. If I don't have time, also use Panko crumbs and leave out anchovies and jalapenos (maybe substitute red pepper flakes if you want the spicy accent?). Tasted fine without those ingredients. I think the freshness of the squash and herbs matters but mostly using fresh herbs if you can get your hands on them. Refrigerated leftovers were very good.

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almost 2 years ago queenoftarts

This was a great addition to a meal I prepared a few nights ago. It was a bit labor intensive, moreso than similar recipes I make, but very tasty. I would use less oil the next time and would not be afraid to fiddle with the recipe by adding other ingredients. BTW, it tasted even better the next day for lunch, cold.

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about 2 years ago ladylinks

Hmmm...this is making my mouth water. I'm thinking of trying this, and incorporating homemade chicken sausage while roasting it in the oven. I'll give it a whirl and let you know how it turns out!

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over 2 years ago Crispy

Delicious! I served it with pan sauteed hog snapper and cucinettaNYC's Watermelon and Heirloom Tomato Salad. Both were a big hit in my house. I had to make a couple of revisions... Wimped out on the anchovie; used mostly green zucchini as my yellow ones didn't look very good; my shallots were dry so I used thinly sliced white onion instead; wanted to use up what I had in the house so I used store bought and Panko bread crumbs. I will definitely make it again.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 2 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Glad all of your adaptations worked out well -- I think it's one of those recipes where you can really play around with the aromatics, etc. so long as you treat the squash/zucchini properly. Also, great menu!

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over 2 years ago sygyzy

I couldn't believe it but this was actually good. I made it for some vegetarians/picky eaters but even I enjoyed it. I did make one mistake - I put the juice of the entire half lemon into the salsa verde and that made it so sour. I had to compensate by adding a lot more oil.

I would warn users that the half lemon that's listed for juicing just means to have half a lemon around but you will likely need a lot less. Maybe 1 - 2 tsp.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 2 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Thank you for your bravery!

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7 months ago msgruvn

l used too much lemon also-the salsa was good but l thought just a touch more and added too much-which made it surprisingly bitter. But we still loved the dish and will make again-next time l am going to add roasted and peeled red bell peppers l think.

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over 2 years ago simplythebest

The Best

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over 2 years ago simplythebest

The best

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over 2 years ago simplythebest

Made this after a trip out east to the farm stands, So easy excellent I will make again. Thank you for the recipe I am glad I had my Mother's cast iron skillet!!! Perfect

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over 2 years ago simplythebest

Made this after a trip out east to the farm stands, So easy excellent I will make again. Thank you for the recipe I am glad I had my Mother's cast iron skillet!!! Perfect

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over 2 years ago J-Dizzle

Yummm.....a new recipe to try (have loads of squash and zucchini in the garden)...thanks for sharing.... :o)

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over 2 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Made this tonight. Delicious! Cut back on the mint in the Salsa Verde as ours, freshly picked at the end of a sunny day, is so intense that anything more than a smidgen will overwhelm. Had both Italian and Greek oregano outside, so used some of each. The family received this with great enthusiasm. ;o)