Zucchini Salad with Pecorino, Basil, & Almonds

This raw zucchini salad was lovely. I loved the contrasting texture from the crunchy almond topping. The dressing was also wonderfully bright and flavorful.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Alexa Weibel. I used a mini food processor to quickly prepare the dressing. We ate this as a side with grilled chicken but it would also be perfect to serve as a light lunch.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

  • 3 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small to medium shallot
  • 2 T capers, chopped, plus 2 teaspoons caper brine
  • zest of one lemon (about 1 tsp)
  • 1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 medium zucchini or summer squash (6 to 7 ounces each), or a combination
  • 1/3 cup shaved Pecorino-Romano cheese
  • 1/4 cup torn fresh basil, plus more for garnish, if desired
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus more for garnish, if desired
  • 1/3 cup roasted salted almonds, chopped
  1. In the bowl of a mini food processor, mince the shallot and garlic.
  2. Add the oil, capers, caper brine, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Pulse to combine.
  3. Season with salt and pepper, pulse again. Set aside. (Alternatively, the dressing can be made in a small bowl.)
  4. Trim the ends of the zucchini and cut each squash into 2-inch segments. Slice the segments lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slabs, then slice those slabs lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick batons. Add to a large bowl.
  5. Just before serving, season the zucchini with salt and pepper and toss to coat.
  6. Stir in the cheese, herbs and dressing and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  7. Sprinkle with the almonds. Garnish with additional herbs, if desired. Serve immediately.

Summer Vegetable Gratin

This colorful dish used my entire CSA box in one meal! My husband accepted it as a vegetarian main because of the flavorful baguette-cheese topping (yay!), but it would also work well as a hearty side dish. We even had a green salad on the side. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Julia Moskin. Moskin recommended using a fresh baguette in the topping for the best crust. Great!

Yield: Serves 6 to 8 as a main dish or up to 12 as a side dish

Time: 1 1/2 hours

For the Base Layer:

  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 red bell peppers, thinly sliced, or 2 additional onions
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 8 cloves garlic, smashed

For the Tomato-Bread Crumb Topping:

  • 1 ½ pounds plum or other ripe tomatoes
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 baguette
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan or Gruyère cheese

For the Gratin:

  • ¼ cup olive oil, more for baking
  • 1 ½ pounds zucchini, sliced 1/4-inch thick (I used 2 pieces)
  • 1 ½ pounds yellow squash, sliced 1/4-inch thick (I used 2 pieces)
  • ¼ cup freshly chopped basil or parsley, more for garnish
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Make the base layer: In a large, heavy ovenproof skillet or enameled cast-iron pan (10 to 12 inches across), combine onions and olive oil and heat to a sizzle, stirring to separate.
  2. Add bell peppers, red pepper flakes and garlic. Cook, stirring, over low heat until peppers are very soft and onions are browned, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and leave mixture in the pan. (The garlic can be removed at this time, if desired.)
  3. Meanwhile, make the topping: Core tomatoes and slice them 1/4 inch thick. Lay on paper towels to drain for 10+ minutes.
  4. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over low heat. Add tomatoes and cook very slowly, turning once or twice, until liquid has bubbled away and flesh is cooked through, about 8 minutes. (Do not overcook, or tomatoes will fall apart.) Turn off heat and let slices cool in skillet; they will continue to dry out.
  5. Tear baguette into pieces and pulse in a food processor to make coarse, fluffy, pea-size crumbs. Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil and the cheese and pulse to combine.
  6. Assemble the gratin: Heat oven to 425 degrees. (If your oven has a convection feature, use it, reducing baking temperature to 400 degrees.)
  7. In a large bowl, combine oil, zucchini and squash, and toss well until lightly and evenly coated. Add basil, sprinkle generously with salt and pepper, and toss again.
  8. On top of the base layer in pan, arrange squash and zucchini slices around the inner rim of the pan, standing on their edges in roughly alternating colors. Pat down into the pan so slices overlap and lie down, like shingles or fallen dominoes. Repeat to make another circle inside the first, and again if necessary, until pan is filled. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. 
  9. Brush oil over the top of the gratin and transfer to oven. Bake 30 minutes. Raise oven temperature to 450 degrees (425 degrees for convection), or heat the broiler.
  10. Add the topping: Arrange tomato slices in one layer on top of the par-baked gratin. Spread bread-cheese mixture over tomatoes and press down gently.
  11. Bake or broil until vegetables are browned around the edges or crust is crisp and golden. 
  12. Let cool slightly and serve hot or at warm room temperature. Garnish each serving with herbs, if desired.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Three Years Ago:

Ritzy Summer-Squash Casserole

They said it wasn’t pretty, but it sure tastes good. 🙂

Summer squash casserole is such a Southern food standard. I was first introduced to it while living in Savannah, Georgia. My friend made it by coarsely mashing boiled yellow squash and onions, mixing in mayonnaise and parmesan, and then baking it as a casserole with breadcrumbs on top. Simple and tasty!!

This version is a little bit more upscale- if one can use the word upscale to describe a squash casserole! 😉 It was really full-flavored and delicious. I substituted a breadcrumb-panko mixture for the homemade breadcrumbs- a mistake in retrospect. Next time I’ll take the extra time to top it with the fresh breadcrumbs. This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Julia Reed. Great!

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

  • 2 pounds yellow summer squash (about 3 large)
  • 7 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped (I used 2 small Walla Walla onions from my CSA share)
  • 1 to 3 large cloves garlic, chopped, to taste
  • ½ red bell pepper, chopped
  • ½ green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped (optional)
  • 4 slices plain white bread, toasted (or 3/4 cup breadcrumbs or panko)
  • 24 Ritz crackers, crumbed in food processor (I used Trader Joe’s Golden Round Crackers)
  • ½ pound sharp cheddar cheese, grated (I used extra-sharp)
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream (I used light cream)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

IMG_5394

  1. Crumb the toast in a food processor, melt 1 tablespoon of butter and pulse together. Set aside.
  2. Crumb the crackers in the bowl of a food processor. Set aside.
  3. Mince the garlic in the bowl of a food processor. Then dice the onions in the same bowl. Remove and set aside.
  4. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 2 1/2-quart baking dish, or spray with cooking spray.
  5. Cut the squash into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Cook in boiling, salted water until tender, about 7 to 10 minutes. Drain. Purée in a food processor.
  6. Melt remaining 6 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and peppers and cook until just tender.
  7. Mix the squash purée, onions, peppers, garlic, cracker crumbs and cheese. Stir in the eggs, cream, sugar and seasonings. Blend well.
  8. Pour into the baking dish. Top with bread crumbs and bake until browned, about 40 minutes.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Spicy Israeli Couscous with Summer Squash

This side dish is delicious warm or cold. It has a little bit of spice from the red pepper flakes, but the amount can be easily adjusted to taste. I use Trader Joe’s Israeli Couscous blend which also includes red quinoa, split dried garbanzo beans, and orzo. We ate it with grilled Palestinian chicken and green salad- a gold standard Middle Eastern meal in our house! The recipe was adapted from The New Basics Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins.

  • 1 1/4 cups Israeli couscous
  • 1 3/4 cups stock (I used chicken stock)
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 cup diced yellow summer squash (or 1 small)
  • 1 cup diced zucchini (or 1 small)
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas (garbanzos)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder (I used sweet curry powder)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt, more to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  1. Bring stock to a boil and then add couscous. Cover and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes, or until all liquid has been absorbed. Remove from heat and let rest for 5 minutes.  (Yields 3 cups of cooked couscous.)
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add and sauté the squash, zucchini, red onion, and garlic for 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the chickpeas and spices. Then gently stir in the cooked couscous. Cook until hot, about 8 minutes.
  4. Garnish with parsley before serving.

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