Baby Zucchini, Pesto, and Asparagus Gratin

July 2, 2010

Author Notes:

This is a template for a zucchini and asparagus gratin. I've included my recipe for arugula pesto but you can use any pesto you've made or bought. I love variations. Here are a few: 1. Add pine nuts and slices of mozzarella.
2. Add fresh or frozen corn.
3. Add chopped fresh herbs like thyme, basil, oregano, or rosemary.
4. Make a sandwich with the cooked gratin. Spread both pieces of bread with pesto mayo (mix 1 part pesto + 1 part mayo). Layer pieces of zucchini and asparagus with hearts of romaine and chopped parsley.
5. Serve leftover gratin over pasta, couscous, or rice. Add more cheese and drizzle olive oil over the dish before serving. And you could even throw in some preserved lemons.

Phyllis Grant

Serves: 2-4 as a side dish/2 as a main dish


Arugula Pesto

  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 2 cups spinach leaves
  • 2 cups arugula
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated or chopped
  • 1/2-3/4 cups olive oil
  • 1/4 cup gruyere, grated
  • 1/4 cup mild and creamy goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup parmesan, grated
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • pinches salt
  • pepper to taste

Assembling the Baby Zucchini, Asparagus, and Pesto Gratin

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (for greasing the dish)
  • 12-15 baby zucchini (or 5-8 large zucchini)
  • 20 asparagus tips (save the rest for asparagus soup)
  • 8 tablespoons arugula pesto (see above)
  • 3/4 cup bread crumbs
  • pinches salt
  • pinches pepper
In This Recipe


Arugula Pesto

  1. Toast the pine nuts in a pan or in the oven until they're lightly browned.
  2. Throw all ingredients (including the warm nuts) into the food processor. Blend until almost smooth (or if you prefer leave it a bit chunky).
  3. Taste for seasoning. You might need to add more salt. If it's really thick, thin it a bit with olive oil.
  4. Store in the fridge with a thin layer of olive oil on top to prevent browning. Or you can freeze it in an ice cube tray and then transfer cubes to a ziploc bag for 6 months.

Assembling the Baby Zucchini, Asparagus, and Pesto Gratin

  1. Make the arugula pesto (or any other kind). Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease an 8x10 inch gratin dish with olive oil.
  2. Cut the stems off the zucchini. Cut each one in half lengthwise if they're small. If large, cut into fourths or eighths. Just make sure they're all about the same size.
  3. Place zucchini pieces and asparagus tips into the greased gratin dish.
  4. Scoop the pesto onto the vegetables. With your fingers, gently coat the zucchini and asparagus with the pesto.
  5. Mix bread crumbs with salt and pepper. Sprinkle mixture over the vegetables.
  6. Bake until zucchini and asparagus are just tender and the top of the gratin is crispy and brown. About 20-30 minutes. Test by inserting a knife. If there's any resistance, it's not done. Or just pull out a piece and taste it if you're not sure. Eat immediately. Or see intro for many variations.

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Casserole/Gratin|Italian|Asparagus|Pine Nut|Vegetable|Pesto|Zucchini|Arugula|Make Ahead|Serves a Crowd|Summer|Vegetarian