I must admit that every time I see a zucchini, I can’t help but think of my grandmother. She would grow it in her backyard, and she always seemed to have tons of it. We had it nearly every time we went to her house for dinner, and she would send some home with us.
I still love zucchini. It is an easy weeknight vegetable to prepare, simply because it can be quickly sliced and steamed, though it can also be stuffed, grilled, put into pasta, soups and bread. It’s good for you, too!
One of my favorite ways to fix it is into a gratin with potatoes and sausage. It takes a bit of prep work, since the veggies need to be sliced very thin and then blanched beforehand, but it is a treat that you and your family will enjoy. It also has wonderful Gruyère cheese in it, which makes it good enough for company.
The flavors in this dish will depend on the type of sausage you use. I used sweet Italian, because that’s usually what we have in the freezer. But, experimentation is a good thing! You can also assemble and partially bake this dish ahead. If refrigerated, bring the gratin to room temperature before baking it or allow additional time. Leftovers can be frozen, but I usually end up polishing those off for lunch!
To make it:
1 teaspoon kosher salt + more as needed
¾ teaspoon black pepper
1½ teaspoon chopped fresh or generous 1/3 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
1 pound potatoes, about 2-3 potatoes, depending on how large or small they are
3 ounces Gruyere, grated, about 1 cup
½ pound lean sausage, in bulk or removed from the casing
Large pinch smoked paprika, to taste
Large pinch cayenne pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon olive oil + more as needed
1 small yellow onion, very thinly sliced, about ½ cup
1 to 1½ teaspoons minced garlic, about 2 cloves
1 to 1¼ pounds summer squash, such as patty pan
1 teaspoon chopped parsley (optional)
½ cup whole milk
1 pound tomatoes, coarsely chopped (about 2 large tomatoes)
Preheat the oven to 400°. Prepare an 8-inch square pan (I used a with a light coat of oil or pan spray; set aside.
Mix thyme, salt and pepper
Combine 1½ teaspoons kosher salt, pepper and thyme in a small dish; set aside.
Slice potatoes very thin
Peel potatoes and cut into 1/8 -inch-thick slices, using a mandolin if available, keeping them in water until ready to cook to prevent oxidation. Par-cook the potatoes in batches, either by blanching, steaming or microwaving, until they are translucent and fairly soft (but you should still be able to pick them up without breaking). Drain.
Layer potatoes and sprinkle with salt mixture
Layer the potatoes in the pan, slightly overlapping the slices; season each layer with some of the salt-thyme mixture.
Sprinkle about 1/3 of the cheese over the final potato layer.
Combine sausage, paprika, cayenne and salt to taste in a skillet over medium heat (you may need to add a little oil if the sausage is extremely lean). Brown the sausage, breaking it into small pieces as it cooks. When done, transfer to a bowl.
Slice onions very thin
Add onions to the same skillet, along with a little more olive oil, if needed. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions soften and begin to caramelize, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until aromatic, about 30 to 45 seconds. Add this to the sausage in the bowl, mix to combine, then spread over the potatoes. Top with another 1/3 of the cheese.
Slice zucchini very thin
Cut the squash crosswise into 1/8 -inch-thick slices, then par-cook similarly to the potatoes.
Layer zucchini over cheese
Layer the squash over the onion-sausage mixture, sprinkling each layer with some of the salt-thyme mixture and parsley. Pour the milk over all.
Layer chopped tomatoes on top
Chop the tomatoes into ½ -inch pieces, reserving any juices. Cover the squash with the tomatoes and juices and a final sprinkle of salt-thyme mixture. I actually used fresh thyme leaves for this last layer, just because I had them.
Place a piece of parchment paper over the top of the dish; cover loosely with foil. If desired, place a baking sheet (optionally lined with parchment) under the pan to catch any drips. Bake until the vegetables are tender and easily pierced with a skewer, about 1 hour, depending how much the vegetables were par cooked.
Remove dish from oven, remove foil and parchment; if needed, bake a bit longer to evaporate excess liquid then sprinkle the remaining cheese over the tomatoes. Bake, uncovered, until cheese melts.
Straight out of the oven, it may seem that there is a lot of liquid in the pan, but much of it will be absorbed as the dish rests. Cool at least 15 minutes before serving.
Light and satisfying
Serve. So beautiful! This is really nice with a green salad.
Look at those lovely layers of the harvest!
Zucchini, Potato & Tomato Gratin
Serves about 6.