17 August 2014

Cheddar & Chive Zucchini Gratin

My very favorite thing about zucchini is its versatility.  Grilled, sliced or shredded, it's a great addition to practically practically any savory or sweet dish.  But from time to time, it's important to remember this veggie is flippin' fabulous all on its own and it deserves the full spotlight every now and again.  Particularly when that light comes with panko and cheese.....yum.

Now I love Deb at smitten kitchen and all her delectable kitchen creations.  But when she recently mentioned in passing that she was not a big fan of zucchini, I was quite surprised.  I mean, I was reading a recipe on a ZUCCHINI GRATIN.  Um, what?  For a woman who isn't partial this little squash, I can't help but give her mad kudos for using this versatile vegetable since it's in season.  And for inspiring me to make a gratin of my own.

In all honesty, this is only the second or third gratin I've ever made.  An overabundance of scalloped potatoes during childhood helped me completely lose interest for several years in all things cheesy and baked...mostly due to the the fact that I am not a huge potato person.  I was a good little girl who kept up her membership in the Clean Plate Club, but with some unintended consequences on my food preferences.  If it wasn't for my hubs love of all things potato and cheese, gratin would likely still be exiled from our kitchen.

This zucchini gratin is the perfect compromise for these two foodies.  For the hubs there's a butter panko crust and and a sharp whiskey cheddar - a killer cheese with tons of flavor.  For me, there's heaps of zucchini and garlic.  But what truly sets this dish apart is the fresh chives.  They're wonderful paired with cheddar and add a bright freshness to this hot, cheesy dish.

After all that talk of not liking potatoes, we served this with homemade fries.  Not a liar, just super picky on a homemade fry kick!

This recipe was baked in a single casserole dish, but from now on I plan to make it in two smaller dishes.  The hubs and I were fork-fighting for the crusty baked cheese edges, and two dishes will help ensure equal portions in the future.  (He has the definite advantage when it comes to fork battles.)

Cheddar & Chive Zucchini Gratin (2 servings)
Inspired by smitten kitchen
  • 2 zucchini (we use 1 green, 1 yellow)
  • 1//3 tsp salt
  • 1 tbs unsalted butter
  • 1/2 c panko (or breadcrumbs)
  • 3/4 - 1 c sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/3 c onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbs fresh chives, thinly sliced
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and grease a baking dish/skillet approximately 9x9 in size with butter.  With a mandolin or knife, slice the zucchini into 1/8 thick coins.  Transfer to a colander and sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt.  Toss to evenly coat the zucchini, then set in your sink to drain for 10 minutes.  Transfer the coins to paper towels and spread in a single layer, blotting to remove any excess moisture.

Place a small saucepan over medium heat.  Add the butter and cook until the color has browned and it gives off a nutty smell.  Remove from heat and add the panko.  Toss together with a fork until the panko is evenly coated, then set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the zucchini with the shredded cheese, onion, garlic and chives.  Season with freshly grated black pepper and mix until the the cheese is evenly distributed.  Transfer to the prepared baking dish and top with the panko.  Transfer to the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and the panko is golden brown.  Let cool for 5 minutes before serving. 

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