After a quick weekend entertaining out of town family, here I sit in front of the glow of a laptop on a Sunday night. Visits are always fun because you can see your town from an outsider’s perspective – reveling at the arch, enjoying Illinois summer squash like it’s your first time tasting it, and watching baseball with family just like Americans have done for a hundred years.
I usually try to cook for family when they visit. They’ve traveled a long way to see what I see and live how I live, and I feel the best way to thank them for that is a home-cooked meal.
This time, I was able to welcome weary travelers with a new version of Zucchini and Summer Squash Gratin. This vegetarian gratin is so easy – just like last time, you can easily make this your own and still use up the multitudes of zukes and summer squash in your kitchen. And what could be better after a long road trip then tasting the best vegetarian fare that area farms have to offer?
Zucchini Quinoa Gratin
Keywords: bake roast side vegetarian summer
Ingredients (serves 2-4)
- 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 3 medium zucchini or summer squash, sliced 1/4-inch thick
- 3-5 large tomatoes, sliced 1/4-inch thick
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 ounces herbed goat cheese
- 1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 450°F. Cook the quinoa according to package directions (add 1 cup of water and bring to a boil; cover and reduce heat to low; fluff with fork after approximately 15 minutes).
Meanwhile, coat two large baking sheets each with a tablespoon of olive oil each (use foil for zucchini to save on washing pans; don’t use foil for tomatoes as they are reactive to foil!). You may need to spread out the zucchini to a third pan, in order to keep them as close to a single layer as possible. Make sure slices are well coated in the olive oil on your pan and sprinkle all with salt and pepper. Roast the tomatoes for 10 minutes and zucchini for 20, flipping the zucchini halfway through. Reduce oven temperature to 400°F. When quinoa is finished, set aside to cool.
Add a tablespoon of olive oil to a large skillet and heat over medium heat. Add onions, garlic and sprinkle generously with salt. Cover and reduce the heat to low, sweating the onion until for 15 minutes (until extremely tender). Stir occasionally.
Combine onion mixture, quinoa, eggs, and half of the goat cheese in a bowl. Sprinkle generously with ground pepper. Use the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to coat a shallow baking dish, then spread half of the quinoa in the bottom of dish. Lay half of the zucchini on top, then spread the remaining quinoa over it. Arrange the remaining zucchini on top, then tomatos. Sprinkle with remaining goat cheese and Panko bread crumbs. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes, in the top section of the oven.
This vegetarian quinoa gratin side dish was inspired by Smitten Kitchen’s recent gratin post, and compliments anything you can think to grill, from meat to tofu to more veggies. Easily make this already vegetarian dish gluten free by deleting the Panko, and even vegan by deleting the goat cheese and eggs (and using a flax egg in their place).
Reign your guests to help you clean the dishes involved in this dish. Though there is a bit of cleaning involved at the end, a summer vegetarian mix such as this is more than worth it. Hey, I’ve made it twice this summer with more to come!
Fresh veggies from Missouri and Illinois farms on a Friday night at the end of the summer. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Question: Do you ever cook for visiting guests? Anything special you enjoy making for out-of-towners?