We’ve reached that magical point in the summer where the tomatoes are starting to ripen. For a couple days we brought in only a handful of sweet cherry, grape, sun gold, or yellow pear tomatoes, but in the last few days we’ve brought in almost nine pounds of tomatoes and have more on the way. As long as something devastating doesn’t happen (knock on wood) we’re set to have a good crop of tomatoes. Right now we are harvesting Early Girl, Brandywine, Mr. Stripey, Cherokee Purple, and Roma, and we have some other varieties that aren’t ready yet but should be soon.
On the other hand, the zucchini is not doing so well. We had a cold wet spring that went all the way through the end of May and slowed plant growth, plus the plants can’t seem get on a coordinated flowering schedule. Zucchini needs both male and female flowers open at the same time in the morning for pollination, and we’ve only had one flower open at a time. So we are stuck buying zucchini for now but still hopeful that we’ll get at least a few zucchini from the garden this summer.
The basil is starting to perk up after toughing out the really wet spring. The plants looked like they wouldn’t thrive but have finally taken off. One of the parsley plants was lost to the overwhelming rains but the other seems to have survived and is slowly coming around.
This dish is my take on a classic that is easy to prepare and full of some of our favorite flavors. We layer the tomatoes and zucchini and tuck basil chiffonade and chopped parsley in between the layers, then top it off a drizzle of olive oil, sautéed onions and garlic, and a sprinkle of grated Parmesan. It’s simple, healthy fare that works as a side dish or a light main course.
This is my contribution to Grow Your Own, the blogging event that celebrates the dishes we create from foods we’ve grown, raised, foraged, or hunted ourselves. MomGateway is our host for this round, so be sure to visit the blog for more information about submitting your post. Posts are due on August 15. If you are new to the event, you can read more about the rules for participating at the Grow Your Own page. We hope you will join us!
ZUCCHINI AND TOMATO GRATIN
Makes one 3-quart casserole.
3-quart (2.8 liter) baking dish
10-inch heavy skillet
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
3 (6 to 8-inch/15 to 20 cm) zucchini, thinly sliced on the diagonal
2 pounds (~900 g) tomatoes, thinly sliced
10 basil leaves, cut in chiffonade
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
pinch of sea salt
2 or 3 grinds fresh black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 350° F/175° C.
2. Warm the skillet over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Sauté the onions until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for another 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
3. Lightly brush the bottom of the baking dish with olive oil. Arrange zucchini slices around the bottom of the pan, then add a layer of tomatoes. Sprinkle on the chopped parsley. Repeat with another layer of zucchini and another layer of tomatoes, then sprinkle on the basil chiffonade. Add the final layer of zucchini, then the tomatoes.
4. Arrange the onions and garlic around the top of the casserole. Sprinkle on a pinch or two of sea salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Drizzle the remaining olive oil around the top and sprinkle on the Parmesan cheese.
5. Bake in the preheated oven for 45 to 60 minutes. At the 45 minute mark the zucchini will be tender but not soft, so bake longer if you want it very tender. Remove from the oven and allow to rest about 5 minutes before serving. There will be plenty of juice in the bottom of the pan, and you can drizzle it over the top for more flavor.