i have always loved zucchini. each summer i take copious amounts from overwhelmed neighbors’ gardens for baking all of the cakes & breads & muffins (more on that later). but you guys. YOU GUYS! i have discovered the true purpose of my dear friend zucchini: to be lovingly baked with cream, butter, and cheese & topped with crunchy breadcrumbs & crispy sage.
i never knew i could feel like this about zucchini. waiting for the next time i get my hands on some so i can make more gratin. trolling the neighborhood on “dog walks” looking for free zucchini in front of all the homes with gardens. praying that my CSA will include squash of some sort so i can make this again and again. i’m addicted. obsessed. obdicted.
so without further ado and lots of yammering on my part (because we all know how i LOVE to yammer)…i give you summer squash like you’ve never had it before.
summer squash gratin with crispy sage
1 lb summer squash (such as zucchini, patty pan, crookneck, etc.)
3 T butter + 1 T butter, divided thusly
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 onion, finely diced
1 c gruyere cheese, shredded
1 c heavy cream
1 T all purpose flour
1 generous pinch nutmeg
1 generous pinch cayenne pepper
1 t sea or kosher salt
1 t black pepper
1/2-3/4 c panko
5-6 sage leaves, cut into long-ways strips
preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
wash the squash and remove the stems. cut in half the long-ways and then slice into just over 1/4 inch thick pieces. set aside.
in a 10 inch cast iron or oven-proof skillet, melt 3 T butter and sauté onions & garlic until fragrant. add squash, and toss to coat in butter/onion mixture. reduce heat to low. in a small bowl combine cheese, cream, flour, & spices, whisking to combine.
turn off the burner and pour cheese mixture onto squash, arranging so that the squash makes a nice even layer and the cheese mixture is distributed evenly. sprinkle the panko onto the surface of the squash, making an even layer. you can make this layer as thick or thin as you’d like, or omit this step entirely if you wish.
dab small bits of the remaining tablespoon of butter onto the surface of the panko, topping each small dab with a strip of sage. i find it works best if using very thin slices of the butter placed at even increments. if you have excess sage, sprinkle it on at random.
place the skillet into the pre-heated oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the panko is golden brown and the cheese mixture is molten and bubbly. allow about 10 minutes to cool before serving. serve warm and make often.