Sunday, August 24, 2008

Zucchini, Tomato and Summer Squash Gratin

When I was a college student, I took a part time job selling and writing adds at the university newspaper. It turned out to be one of the funnest jobs I ever had. It wasn't the writing and selling of ads that turned out to be so thrilling, but it was the dynamics of the office crew. We had a very kind but stodgy-smelling old women as our unassertive leader, a dingbat clueless overgrown boy who was surprisingly brilliant with politics, a scholarly and shy girl that turned out to be not shy at all but tons of sharp edged fun, a former model/beautiful newlywed girl, me, and the new girl Tanji. As soon as Tanji walked in the room, I knew she would be my bosom friend. She had a megawatt smile, tons of energy, class, and wit, and an easy way of laughing at everything. I think we had the makings of a sitcom in that office, and Tanji would have been the star, deep thinking and kind, gorgeous and classic, funny and gracious, and I would have had a supporting role as her loud awkward friend.

We sold a few ads here and there, but mostly Tanji, shy scholar, and I giggled relentlessly at all the going-ons in the office. (Like the fact that every time the clueless boy walked into work he asked "Why does it always smell in here," never realizing it was the stodgy old boss that shared his desk.) The day I got engaged to Quiet Man, Tanji was the first to notice the shining band around my finger. I had made up my mind not to breathe a word at work unless someone noticed, and sure enough, it took Tanji about two seconds. Nothing gets by that girl . Somehow over the years we lost contact, until one day Tanji stumbled upon my blog and left me a comment. Other than having four adorable little charges and an impressive husband, the only thing that has changed about Tanji is that she is more hilarious, more gracious, and closer to perfect than ever.
So when Tanji emailed me this recipe from the food network for Provencal Vegetable Gratin, I already knew it would be luscious and addictive. I had to have it for dinner TWO NIGHTS IN A ROW. I made it twice in a row, the first time as written, and the second time the lazy way-which I liked every bit as much. In an effort to keep the oven off for long periods of time, I started it the second time in the micro, and it worked smashingly. Thanks, Tanji and I'm so glad that we can share not only good memories, but recipes too.
Money Saving Tips: You can use a medium quality olive oil here with good results. Use dried basil if you don't have fresh. If you're lucky, you can get all the main ingredients in your own garden or farmer's market for pennies.
Zucchini, Tomato, and Summer Squash Gratin adapted from the Food Network
Estimated Cost: $4.50
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 medium zucchini, sliced into 1/4 inch thick rings
1 yellow squash, sliced into 1/4 inch thick rings
2 tomatoes, sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup finely shredded parmesan cheese
crusty baguette for serving
In a microwave and oven safe small baking dish or loaf pan, combine olive oil and garlic. Add onion, salt, zucchini, squash, and tomatoes and toss to coat with the oil. Pat down into pan. Preheat the broiler (if you want a crunch top). Cover baking dish with saran wrap and microwave on high for about 6 minutes, or until all vegetables are softened and cooked through. Sprinkle with basil and parmesan and pass briefly under the broiler to melt the cheese, if desired. You can just return the dish to the microwave to melt the cheese, also. Serve with slices of crusty french bread.
Coming First Light of Tuesday:
Tuesdays With Dorie Double Whammy
Mint Oreo Chocolate Ice Cream Torte AND
Reese's Peanut Butter Milk Chocolate Ice Cream Pie

31 comments:

Catherine said...

You just can't go wrong with veggies, cheese, and bread. This looks so delicious! I think it could be a great way to trick my littles into eating their veggies!

Deanna said...

Oh to dive through the computer screen straight into that bowl!

gigi said...

It is so wonderful that your friend found you and thru your blog! That is such a great story! I love vegtables so much and this sounds so good and so easy to make.

The DeL Sisters said...

Thats looks so good! I love squash.........you are so creative....love the title of your TWD recipe I can hardly wait!

Mary Ann said...

First of all that looks amazingly delicious! Yet another yummy thing to try. I love it. Second, your version of the Orange Berry Muffins sound wonderful, I want to try them your way and I am soo hooked that I can't wait to see your TWD creation. Cookies and Cream, are you kidding me??? Prudy, save me some!!!

hot garlic said...

Prudy I simply can't keep up with you!

I am so glad you have such a good friend after all of these years! Where did you go to college? It sounds like it was fun where ever it was. And I KNEW you were a church going gall -I had my eye on that and your comment confirmed what I already suspected... I think...

This looks so good, and I can't argue with 2 days in a row! Might have to give it a go.

hot garlic said...

Uhhh, yup! It pretty much does! I knew it!

It's really sad though, see, we are Aggies {technically I'm a Ute, but Ben doesn't let me claim that} and we don't play nice with Cougars... I'm sorry, we can't be friends anymore. And it doesn't sound fun anymore either!

...Oh but I kid! Though Ben would be serious, but not really. My sis and her hubs are at the B-Y-Woo {my crazy Aunt calls it that} right now and I grew up in Arm {Orem}.

Are ya'll still in UT?

Jenny said...

All these veggis look fantastic! What a great dish! I am drooling just thinking of your next post!

Emiline said...

Oh, I love your stories!

This looks delicious. I like your pancakes also, with the pools of melted butter on top.

Debinhawaii said...

This looks so good--great ingredients and how fun to find an old friend.

Marie said...

Delicious looking Terrine Erin, and the best part of all is that it's a recipe shared with a friend, which makes any recipe taste infinitely better! Don't you just love it when this blogging business puts you back in touch with a long lost friend!! That's like the icing on a very delicious cake!

Beth said...

My daughter would love this. She'll eat any vegetable as long as it is accompanied with cheese! Looks delicious

Jeena said...

This is so scrumptious! Great recipe I love the cheese, cheese and squashes go so well together I bet this is so delicious!

Allie said...

My dad used to make something like this when I was growing up. I used to hate it and cry and scream when he'd make it and we had to at least have 2 bites of it. Now a days I would eat it, I think the secret is having the cheese it makes everything better!

Tanji said...

Oh Prudy, that was beautiful! I am crying now. What fun memories! But all those wonderful things you said about me don't hold a candle to your supreme and uber amazing-ness. Seriously. Remember how our stodgy boss used to scrape the skin off her hands on the edge of her desk? Or how her kinda creepy older son set his sites on our beautiful newleywed coworker. I think his words were "I want THAT one." I remember you used to reach across the desk with your beautiful hands (which I recognize on your blog) and push all the bottons on my phone while I was trying to sell an ad and then I would have to either (unsucessfully) stifle my laugh and keep talking, or just slam down the phone and double-over with the giggles. You're the best and I'm sooo glad I found you. Now, if we could just live a little closer to eachother . . . that would be the sprinkles on the icing of a super tasty and kinda nutty cake. Love you!

Maria said...

Great story..and a great recipe too! We are loaded with zucchini and squash right now. Our neighbors and friends are so generous:) Can't wait to make this dish!

1freshstart said...

What a great story! I love that about the internet. It sounds like you two worked with some interesting characters.
I'm going to have to make this summer gratin now. I can't get enough of summer squash... or any veggie for that matter.
~Cat

Amy said...

This looks wonderful and I have got LOTS of all of these ingredients coming out of the garden now!! I tried your honey wheat rolls yesterday and they were absolutely delicious!!

Sara said...

This looks great! My summer squash is just about ready for me to make this yummy Gratin. I made your shepherd's pie for dinner last night, and loved it. My husband wanted a bit more bbq sauce with some spice, so I am wondering what kind you use. I also made your honey whole wheat rolls and I have fallen in love with them. They are so good. They didn't quite look like yours, but I will do better next time! Thanks for a yummy Sunday dinner!

Prudy said...

Sara:
Thanks so much for enjoying the wheat rolls. I used bulls eye barbecue, but you could slip in a dash or two of tabasco or liquid smoke next time too.

Prudy said...

Amy:
I'm so glad you liked the wheat rolls. I think I'll have to make them again myself.

The Blonde Duck said...

That looks great! We just had squash the other day but this looks like a much tastier way to eat it!

I'm glad Sailor is feeling better and she liked the stories. I realized about six hours after I mailed them to you they were probaly riddled with typos! You would think since my day job is an editor I'd be more attentive, but...nope! Too many other things to do! :)

April said...

What a great looking recipe. I've been looking for some different ways to use my squash and tomatoes.

kim said...

hi prudy! i think you probably have it already, but i gave you an award on my blog :)

Lisa said...

Love squash cooked with Italian flavors. Isn't it fun to run into old friends?

Kevin said...

This sounds like a good way to enjoy zucchini. I like the cheese and tomato combo with the zucchini.

Michal said...

yummy. i can't wait to try this. hopefully my squash bugs are now gone (thanks to the praying mantises) and we'll have the ingredients in the garden by the weekend.
you made me hearken back to my days at the daily universe as well. we would have had fun if we'd been there at the same time.

Nibley-Baker Blog said...

Hello Prudy, Tanji just found me on facebook and gave me the link to this fantastic blog! Your prelude to the vegetable gratin brought back fond memories of the DU. I'm guessing that shy scholarly girl is Lisa. I've stayed in touch with her. After a three-year stint in Geneva, Switzerland, she is settled in Portland with her husband and three kids. I just moved from Salt Lake to northern Kentucky, just outside Cincinnati. I have one little boy and my husband just started teaching at a university here. I'm excited to stay at home with my boy and get cooking. It will be fun to be back in touch with you. - Anna

kittymama said...

Prudy, Chocolate Mint Oreo ice cream torte - you are a girl after my own heart! I skipped TWD this week as we are on vacation. It's actually a stay-cation so technically I could have made the torte but we have a lot of projects going on at the house. Thanks for checking in on me - we are still a bit sad in our house but carrying on. The other cats keep us busy!

kittymama said...

oops! I commented on the wrong post! I intended my comment above to be attached to the ice cream torte post, as is probably obvious. The gratin looks great too. :)

Aggie said...

Hi Prudy! I made this tonight and it was wonderful! I hope you don't mind but I am going to link to this recipe in my post tonight...Thanks for sharing this fantastic recipe!