“Do you like zucchini?” my co-worker asked, peeking into my office.
“Of course!” I said.
She put the two globe zucchini she was carrying down on my desk.
“Are these from your mom’s garden?”
“Oh, they’re still warm!”
“She just picked them.”
I had to keep working, of course, but looking at the two of them sitting there, I couldn’t help but think about what to do with them. Later in the afternoon I popped out to her desk.
“How about a zucchini and tomato gratin? How does that sound? It’s pretty standard, but I think it’d still be good.”
“That sounds great. Do you need more?”
“Oh, no. I’ll just make a small one to start. I have a red onion – maybe with some onion too?”
She nodded in agreement. I nodded back.
Since today was Wednesday, I stopped by the farmer’s market to get tomatoes. I grabbed four of an heirloom type called Black Russian and headed home to do the assembly.
Well, the two zucchini and the four tomatoes was enough to make a 9×13 pan worth, and I think I could have spread the vegetables out on a jelly roll pan and done just as well. This may not be a true gratin – no breadcrumbs, no cheese – but the idea is there. If I did this again, I might add a couple cloves of finely minced garlic to the cornmeal mixture.
2 globe zucchini, thinly sliced
4 large tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
My mandoline, a gift from my in-laws, was a great help here in slicing the onion and zucchini, though a serrated knife did better work on the tomato.
olive oil to spray or drizzle over the vegetables
1 c. cornmeal (mine is a medium grind – a little finer would be okay too, if that’s what you have)
1/4 c. chopped mint
1/2 c. chopped parsley
1 1/2 t. salt
freshly ground pepper
1/2 t. cayenne
1/4 t. paprika
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Mix the cormmeal and seasonings together in a small bowl. Layer the vegetables in a 9 x 13 pan, drizzling or spraying with the olive oil and dusting with the cornmeal mixture as you go. When all the vegetables and cornmeal are used up and the pan is full, pour a half-cup of water around the edges of the pan. Cover tightly with foil and bake 30 minutes, then uncover and bake until the vegetables are tender and the cornmeal has absorbed most of the water, about 25 minutes more. Remove from the oven and allow to rest before serving.
Makes six to eight servings.