Summer Squash Gratin

First off: apologies about these pictures. As fall fell, so did my natural light and I can’t seem to find the right balance in my kitchen lighting to achieve good light for my pictures. So these are dark and grainy and do not do this dish much justice. But this turned out to be quite delicious and will probably be a keeper next summer when we’re once again overwhelmed with squash, sungold tomatoes, and basil!

So first, a picture of the repeat offenders:

squashandtomatoesThis was probably about half of the 2 lbs of summer squash we got that week and a basket of sungold tomatoes. If you haven’t had sungolds, they’re sweet, juicy, and I love how their light orange color pops in any dish you add them too. That said, as with all the vegetables that get repeated in large quantities in a CSA, I get into a bit of a rut trying to use them up each week.

Not pictured is our bulk share of fresh basil. We received a giant bag of basil leaves and spent a couple of hours on a Sunday afternoon making and freezing pesto. I forget how much basil is given in the bulk share, but let’s just say that I had about 5 pints of pesto sauce stored in various half pint-sized containers in my freezer and I am once again grateful for my favorite kitchen appliance: my food processor!

cookedsquashI decided to make a gratin of sorts, thinking that the yellow and green colors of the squash, those sweet and bright tomatoes, and dabs of spicy pesto would make a sunny accompaniment to a steak dinner in lieu of scalloped potatoes. This was an absolute success, or at least I take it as such since John, tired of squash in the many variations we had this summer said that I had really “polished a turd.” The squash remained firm in bite, contrasting with the burst in juiciness from the tomatoes. The sweetness was rounded by the savory garlic and onions and there was a satisfying pull of gooey cheese yet crispness from the bread crumb topping. I think this would make a really great dish to bring to a summer barbeque or pot luck– too bad these pictures are too dim to show off its summery glory!


  • 1.5 lb summer squash, cut on the diagonal into 1/4 inch slices
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 3/4 pint sungold tomatoes, halved
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 3 tbsp freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
  • 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • butter flavored cooking spray
  • 1 pint whole milk
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 oz pesto*

In a small saucepan, make a bechamel sauce by melting the butter over medium low heat then whisking in the flour, whisking for about 1-2 minutes to cook out the raw flour taste. Whisk in the milk and turn the heat up to medium high, whisking constantly for about 6 minutes or until the sauce has thickened. Remove from heat and add salt and pepper to taste and the pinch of nutmeg. Set aside.

In a large skillet, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until softened, trying not to brown them. Add the squash and garlic and continue to cook for about 5 minutes– you don’t want to overcook them here as they will continue to cook when you bake them so you don’t want a mushy mess. Add the tomatoes and a little salt and pepper. Mix in the bechamel sauce.

Add about half of the vegetable mixture to the bottom of a large baking dish. Dollop about half of the pesto here and there and sprinkle with 1 cup of mozzarella. Repeat with the other half of the vegetable mixture, pesto, and mozzarella. Sprinkle the parmigiano reggiano evenly and top with an even layer of panko crumbs. Lightly spray the crumbs with cooking spray so they brown in the oven.

Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the breadcrumbs browned evenly.

CSA Count: 5

Summer squash, sungold tomatoes, onion, fresh garlic, fresh basil

*If you want to make your own pesto, I blitzed together about 2 cups of fresh basil leaves, 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts, 1 garlic clove and 3/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil in a food processor until smooth. I then folded in about 3/4 cup of grated parmesan and a little salt and pepper.


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