While we were there we celebrated Jonathon's birthday. The great part of having adult kids is they make the very best friends. The not so great part is that sometimes they don't live in the same city as I do. Jonathon fits into both of those categories. It's not often that we are together for his birthday so it was a treat for me to make a special meal for him. Nevertheless we were at the lake, so relaxed and sunny were the order of the day (who am I kidding? relaxed and easy is the way I cook) and there were the five little people with the likes and dislikes that come along with that set who were also at the party. So... it was simple but oh so good. We ate on the deck, in the sun, after a day of swimming and playing together. Life is so very good sometimes.
I made the summer squash gratin with salsa verde and gruyere that I had tagged from Food52. The weather was lovely and hot so I debated the wisdom of using the oven but decided the food would be worth the heat. It absolutely was! This gratin was even better than I thought it would be and I had pretty high expectations. Since we were at the cabin I used a bottled Salsa Verde - it was good (and certainly a lot simpler than making my own that day). Next time I would make fresh. It would be just that much better. Again claiming cabin-whatever, I used some especially good, very old cheddar instead of the gruyere (the local shop didn't stretch to gruyere - go figure), and since we had our gluten-free members to consider, used gluten-free bread to make the breadcrumbs. We barbeque'd some fresh sausages, steamed local corn on the cob, tossed a green salad and came away very satisfied.
summer squash gratin with salsa verde
(adapted from Food 52)
2 pounds zucchini, sliced 1/8" thick
1 1/2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
3/4 cups thinly sliced shallot
1 tsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp thyme leaves
1 3/4 cups grated extra-old cheddar
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup salsa verde
Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Toss the zucchini slices in a large bowl with 2 tsp sea salt and let sit for 10 minutes.
Place the breadcrumbs in a bowl. Heat a small saute pan over medium heat. Add the butter and cook for a few minutes until brown and nutty smelling. Pour the brown butter over the breadcrumbs (don't miss the brown bits!). After the butter has cooled for about a minute toss well.
Working by the handful, gently squeeze the squash to remove the excess water. Transfer the squeezed squash (love that!! ha) to a large bowl. Add the shallots, minced garlic, thyme, 1/2 cup salsa verde, and some pepper. Toss to combine. Add the cheese and half the butter coated breadcrumbs. Toss again. Place the mixture into a gratin dish or cast iron skillet. Top with the remaining breadcrumbs and bake for 35-40 minutes - until the squash is tender and the top is crisp.