Summer Squash Gratin

Summer Squash Gratin

This is the recipe that broke the streak. A two-month-long, five-meal-rotation streak consisting of burgers, meatloaf, roast chicken, burgers and quiche. It was time. It was time to put some effort into dinner; to try something new; to open up a can of anchovies; to crack a jar of capers; to pour some brown butter over fresh bread crumbs. Yes, brown-butter bread crumbs. They are so good.

Let me tell you, my efforts paid off. I’m all about simple recipes these days, and when I have fresh ingredients on hand, simple can be best. But this recipe reminded me of ones I used to attempt all the time, ones with so many layers of flavors and textures, ones that leave eaters guessing, “what is that?” after every bite.

And don’t let me scare you: There’s nothing complicated about making this dish. It’s just that for me these days, anything that requires more than forming burger patties and tossing a salad seems like a chore. I took a few shortcuts, too, opting to make the salsa verde in one step in the food processor, which saved a wee bit of time, but I encourage you to read through the original recipe first on Food 52. It’s a fabulous site!

If you’re in need of a nice, summery, vegetarian dish to add to the mix, this is the one. It’s light — no cream in this gratin — and the vegetables remain firm even after 40 minutes of cooking. I served it as an entrée with a simple salad and some fresh bread, but it would make a wonderful side dish as well.

For all of you fathers out there, have a wonderful Father’s Day weekend! And to the four fathers in my life, I love you very much.

Summer Squash Gratin

Salsa Verde Ingredients

Salsa Verde

Mise en Place

Summer Squash from our Olin-Fox Farm CSA:
Ingredients In Bowl

Tossed Ingredients

Uncooked Gratin

Kitchen assistant sneaking a bite:
Sneaking a Bite

Kitchen assistant caught in the act:
Kitchen Assistant

Summer Squash Gratin with Salsa Verde and Gruyère

Source: Food 52 via Suzanne Goin
Serves 4 as an entrée

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


2 pounds summer squash
1 1/2 cup fresh 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), 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. 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. (Note: I basically made this in one step in the food processor — I pulsed everything with the exception of the capers together, then stirred the capers in at the end.)

3. Make the gratin. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the squash into 1/8-inch-thick slices. (A mandolin makes this a quick task.) 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 minutes. 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 oblong-shaped) gratin dish. Scatter the remaining breadcrumbs over the top, and bake 35 to 40 minutes, until the squash is tender and the top is crisp.

Summer Squash Gratin


  1. says

    I haven’t see veggies look this beautiful in a VERY long time. Love everything about this dish. Gorgeous colors and some amazing flavors.

  2. says

    your photography is magnificent & this recipe is one i am eager to try!
    the true star of this post is your child! happy father’s day!

  3. says

    You prepare & photograph such beautiful dishes. I went to Food 52 – thanks so much for sharing. Especially loved the photo of your kitchen helper.


  4. says

    This looks delicious (and the kitchen helper is practically edible). I am so pleased you are back – last time I checked your blog the mouse-overs on each picture were for viagra and cialis!

  5. says

    The kitchen assistant is too cute for words!
    A question about the recipe: the picture shows that there are spring onions (I think) in the salsa verde mix, but the recipe does not mention it. There is also basil in one of the other pictures, but not in the recipe. Did you use them in your dish? Thanks!

  6. says

    I have attempted gratins before but they have come out somewhat dry unless I add milk (which I have been trying to stay away from) Your version may just do the trick! (BTW your sous chef caught in the act was adorable! LOL)

  7. Courtney says

    Found your blog through pinterest and your recipes look great and the pictures are the best! when I saw the picture of your kitchen assistant my heart melted! what a little angel you have :) thanks for the inspiration!

  8. Kate says

    Made this last night and it was delicious! Just had the leftovers for lunch and I think they were even better. My new favorite summer dish!

    • says

      Diana — my husband picked it up in Mexico on a family trip when he was in high school (about 15 years ago now). I love it, too, and have searched for more, but I’ve never been able to get myself to buy one online bc the pictures never quite sell it. I’ll let you know if I find a source.

  9. claire miyake says

    just made this tonight with a very simple grilled chicken and it was AHHHHMAZING! I was so proud of myself because my end result actually looked like your pics – which in itself i felt was a significant accomplishment! thank you for sharing – i definitely would never have thought this combination would work so expertly! excited to try more of your recipes – so many good ones to choose from! many thanks for sharing!!!

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