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