Two down, one to go: my quest to use up the CSA chard (before more gets delivered on Wednesday) is proceeding apace. This zucchini gratin recipe from Simply Recipes came across my reader the other day and well: cheese, bacon, onions, garlic? Even the zucchini-weary can get behind that plan.
I made a few changes of course: I cut the recipe roughly in half, since only one of our household will consume the “Evil Weed.” (Since I do the cooking, I’ll let you guess who whipped up today’s Evil Weed Casserole, and who will be sniffing at it longingly, lamenting the bacon that was ‘wasted’ in service to the green devil.) I substituted fresh chard (another bunch down, huzzah!) for frozen spinach, and wilted the chard with the bacon and onions, rathering than heating up a pot of water for blanching. I doubled the amount of cheese (because, why not?) and used a local, aged grating cheese from Sprout Creek in place of the parmesan. The Ouray and Borat cheeses are both good substitutes for parmesan; the Ouray a little nuttier, the Borat a bit tangier, both delicious.
As I was putting this gratin together, I realized that all of the ingredients were local: I love when that happens, purely accidentally. While I have no objections to olive oil, lemons, coffee, etc., it’s always nice to put together a meal that is pure Hudson Valley: bacon from the Catskills, eggs from Bethel, CT, cheese from Dutchess County, vegetables from my own CSA in Brewster. Add to that the fact that I used up a half-baseball-bat-sized zucchini, a big bunch of chard and the parsley from last week’s CSA, and I call it a good day’s work. Zucchini chard gratin: because Wednesday will be here before you know it!
Adapted from Zucchini & Spinach Gratin by Elise at Simply Recipes
- 1 lb zucchini, seeded if very large (6 oz net once grated, salted and water pressed out)
- about 1 tsp salt
- 1 bunch chard (about 1/2 lb), fresh or frozen
- 2 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped to about 1/4-inch pieces
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 small bunch parsley, about 1/3 cup chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 oz (1/2 cup) freshly grated hard cheese, such as parmesan or Sprout Creek Borat
- 1/4 tsp salt, or to taste
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2 eggs (4 oz), lightly beaten
- 1 tbsp butter + extra for greasing the dish
- Grate the zucchini and toss in a large bowl with 1 teaspoon salt. Transfer to a colander and allow to drain for 30 minutes. If chard is frozen, roughly chop and suspend in another colander to drain. After 30 minutes, squeeze remaining water from zucchini (and thawed chard, separately) by wrapping the vegetables in a clean kitchen towel and twisting (like wrapping a hard candy) until you squeeze out as much water as possible.
- Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, fry bacon, tossing frequently, until browned and slightly crispy. Add onions, stir to coat in bacon grease and sauté until softened, about 6 – 8 minutes. If chard is fresh, chop to bite-sized pieces, and add to the oninos & bacon, tossing to coat. Sauté until just wilted, about 2 – 3 minutes, then remove skillet from heat.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Add parsley and garlic to the bowl of a food processor, and pulse a few times until well chopped. To a large bowl, add spinach, bacon/onion mixture, chard, parsley + garlic persillade (don’t know what a persillade is? Refer to Elise’s recipe to find out!), black pepper and half of the grated cheese. Mix thoroughly; taste and adjust salt and other seasonings. Add eggs and mix well.
- Grease a casserole dish with butter. Pack the zucchini mixture into the dish, then top with remaining grated cheese. Melt 1 tbsp of butter and drizzle over the top. Bake in preheated oven until top is nicely browned, about 40 – 45 minutes.
- As Elise notes, bacon is important to the flavor of this dish. If you do not eat meat, or pork, you could replace the bacon/grease with olive oil or butter. I recommend adding some smoked paprika, about 1/2 – 1 tsp, for a meaty/bacon-y flavor.
- Seems like this would work nicely with frozen, grated zucchini; drain off all the water, squeeze dry in a kitchen towel, then proceed with the recipe.
- I think the topping could use a little added crunch: I might try it next time with some breadcrumbs mixed in with the parmesan, or maybe finely chopped walnuts or hazlenuts.
- Some fresh oregano or thyme would be a nice addition with the parsley, to mix things up.
Refrigerated, for up to 5 days.
Summer, or year-round with frozen vegetables.