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Zucchini and Tomato Gratin

Posted By Nicole On September 18, 2011 @ 1:06 pm In Low Carb,Side Dishes,Vegetarian | 32 Comments

This is a recipe from the archives that I decided to dust off and pull forward to help you use up all the delicious zucchini and tomatoes that I hope you’re inundated with. Enjoy!

It’s still hot here, but the nights are cooling down enough that I’m starting to believe that I might have actually made it through another summer. By the end of August in Fresno, it starts to feels like the summer will never end.  School starts, Halloween decorations appear in stores, friends in other parts of the country start talking about pumpkin this and maple that, but the heat is still stifling and it’s hard to even imagine that jeans and sweaters will ever be needed again.  But it’s September now and something has started to change.  The daytime temperatures are in the 90′s rather than 100′s and if I sleep with a window open and the fan on, I am actually comfortable under a blanket at night instead of just a sheet.  Fall might not be here yet, but at least the end of summer is in sight.  I’ll take what I can get.

I feel like this is a good summer to fall transition recipe.  It uses up some late summer zucchini and tomatoes, but it’s a warm dish, so those of you who are experiencing cooler temperatures can cozy up to your oven for this one.  I actually prefer to eat this zucchini gratin cold, or at room temperature, so I turned my oven on this morning before the afternoon sun had a chance to make me change my mind.

When I think of a gratin, I think of something rich and creamy and cheesy. But this one has no butter, no cream, no buttered crumbs, and really, very little cheese.  It may not be what I think of as a true gratin, but it’s delicious and healthy and I know you’re gonna love it.

I got the recipe from my grandmother and really have no idea where it came from.  It’s not a terribly old recipe because the star ingredient is Tabasco jalapeno sauce, and that ingredient hasn’t always been around.  But regardless of where it came from, or when, it’s been a family favorite for years, and it’s going to stay in my book of family recipes.

Just one word about Tabasco before I continue with the recipe.  A few of you might have read that and thought, “uh, what?”  But the Tabasco jalapeno flavor goes perfectly with the olive oil, garlic and basil.  I’m not sure what it is about the flavor combination, but the results are fantastic.  I would even use it as a salad dressing.  The green pepper sauce is much milder than the red stuff, so don’t worry about heat.  If you have to buy a bottle just for this recipe, don’t worry, it’s great sprinkled on all kinds of things.  Try it on some eggs or in your next quesadilla.  Delicious.

The best thing about this gratin is that it’s really easy.  You just chop a few vegetables, toss everything together and throw it in the oven.  You don’t have to worry about perfect slices, you don’t have to arrange anything in a pattern and there is no layering involved.  Just chop, toss and go.  The second best thing about this recipe is the way your house smells while it’s in the oven.  For such a simple dish, it packs a powerful olfactory punch.  I know because the smell of it is killing me as I write this.

Zucchini and Tomato Gratin

2 large zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 medium yellow squash, cut into 1/2-inch slices
3 small tomatoes, cut into wedges*
1 garlic clove, crushed
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons Tabasco green pepper sauce**
1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil***
1 t. salt
1/4 – 1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
2. In a large bowl, toss together all ingredients except the parmesan cheese.
3. Pour zucchini mixture into a medium sized casserole dish, top with grated parmesan cheese
4. Bake, uncovered, in the preheated 425 degree oven for 30 minutes, or until zucchini is tender.
5.  Serve warm, at room temperature, or cold.

Recipe Notes: *Use whatever type of tomatoes you would like. Even large cherry tomatoes, halved, would be great in this dish (You would probably use 8-10).  **It is important that you use the green Tabasco sauce rather than the other kinds, it adds a wonderful flavor! ***You may substitute 1 teaspoon dried basil for the fresh if necessary.

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