Zucchini is such an innocuous vegetable, but so versatile. It can be served raw, in thin ribbons in a salad, grilled, steamed, pan-fried, deep-fried or made au gratin…with cheese! This is easy, can be made ahead and delicious. The first time a made zucchini au gratin, I used Julia’s recipe. God, it was life altering, but it took a bit more time. I always serve her version as a side dish with leg of lamb. I don’t know why, but I do. It just works and you should make it, because it is truly delicious.This is a simpler version, definitely easier or at least less time-consuming and I rather like the chunkiness of it.
Please feel free to add and change this recipe. I have, over the years, added various things at different times, depending on what I had and what I felt like serving…like added fried bacon, chopped artichoke hearts and spinach, thick slices of garden tomatoes and pesto and I change the cheese from time to time. I’ve even add cooked Italian sausage and served the dish with pasta on the side…make it with what you have and how you’re feeling. But, this is the base and then I go from here.
Zucchini au Gratin
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus extra for topping
- 1 large onion, cut in half and sliced thinly top to bottom
- 3-4 cloves garlic, pressed or 1 rounded teaspoon roasted garlic paste
- 4 zucchini, sliced 1/4 inch thick (about 2 pounds zucchini)
- 1-2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup hot milk, half-and-half or chicken stock
- Juice of half a lemon
- 1 good cup grated Swiss or Gruyère cheese
- 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan-Reggiano cheese
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Melt the butter in a very large sauté pan; add the onions and cook over low heat for 8 minutes, or until just about tender but not browned. Add the garlic and zucchini; cook, uncovered, for 6-8 minutes, or until slightly tender. Add the salt, pepper, nutmeg and flour; continue to cook for 2-3 more minutes. Add the hot liquid and cook over low heat for a few minutes, until the sauce comes together; stir in the lemon juice. Pour 1/3 of the mixture into an 8×10-inch baking dish and top with 1/3 of the cheese; repeat twice.
Combine the bread crumbs, melted butter and parmesan; sprinkle on top of the zucchini mixture. Bake for 20 minutes, or until bubbly and browned.
Make-ahead: Can be made up to 24 hours ahead. Cool to room temperature; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until 1 hour before baking. Let the casserole sit on the counter and return to room temperature; bake as indicated just before serving.
Zucchini au Gratin Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2015. All rights reserved.
As you can see by reading the recipe, this takes less than 20 minutes to prepare and can be made ahead. Actually, I think the flavor is best when you make it ahead. More unified. I just this by sauteing very thinly sliced fennel with the onions. It was very tasty, with a slight sweetness, which is what happens when you cook fennel like this.I layered the fennel/onion mixture with tomato slices, then topped it with heaps of shredded parmesan cheese, garlic, olive oil, and panko crumbs. Of course, I didn’t remember to take pictures of the finished dish…that would have just been way too organized.
Also, if you are using the milk or half-and-half, do NOT use arrowroot, as it has a funky mouth feel with dairy. If you are using the broth, then arrowroot would be my choice to substitute. For those of you with a gluten issue, use cornstarch, arrowroot (with broth) or rice flour instead of wheat flour. Obviously leave off the panko, unless you want to use gluten-free bread crumbs, but I would just increase the cheese…how bad could that be?