Zucchini Gratin

Don’t run screaming from the virtual room, just because I said the word “Gratin” again! this is a very different animal altogether. Serve it with lamb. Or beef. Or chicken tagine, a recipe I promise to post sometime soon. Actually, you can eat it just like that with rice. This just gave me another idea for a vegetarian, but meaty tasting One Dish Wonder gratin that you will not be able to escape either. Now to the grating gratin:

  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 1 big handful of mint leaves
  • 2 handful breadcrumbs
  • plenty of good olive oil
  • salt
  • plenty of black pepper
  • garlic, if you want
  • feta, if you like

You may have noticed that this is not one of these exact grams of everything recipes. It’s more of an instinctive cooking thing. Just chuck it together and it will turn out great, I promise. Unless you’re completely talentless and then maybe knitting?

Slice your zucchini into nice biggish slices. Obviously the amount you will need depends on your gratin dish, so use your brain. (am I becoming grumpy?) Now salt your zucchini. How much salt do you need? My trick is to salt, wait 3 minutes, then take a bite. If that’s how salty you want it, you’re good. If not add more salt, toss about again and try one more bite in another 3 minutes. IF you’ve screwed up the first time around and the zucchini are much too salty, fret not. Quickly wash the veg and dry them and start over.

Chop the mint (or in fact any other herb you fancy) and mix it with the breadcrumbs (I’m using Italian Pan Grattato), some salt and black pepper. Taste the thing and you’ll know whether its what you like. Now I made this dish as an accompaniment to a highly flavoured lamb, so there’s no garlic. If you’re serving it with something lighter, I’d recommend the addition of a tablespoon of chopped garlic to the breadcrumbs.

Layer the zucchini in an attractive way in your lightly oiled gratin dish. Easier said than done. If all fails, just toss them into the dish. It’s always better to pretend you intended a creative mess than to fail in attractive layering! Anyway, the taste will be good no matter what the thing looks like. Just so you know, you don’t need to wash your zucchini slices or pat them dry. Life’s just too short for it. Generously pepper your beautifully layered zucchini and very generously salt them. If you have feta cheese in the chiller and you feel so inclined, crumb some over your gratin before you cover it all with bread crumbs.

Pour good olive oil in a thin, but magnanimous long stream over the entire dish, so the crumbs are pretty much soaked. Put it into a 180ºC oven and roast for about 20 minutes. Then turn on the grill, if you have one and just brown the gratin. If your grill doesn’t do a half power setting, I recommend that you crouch next to it the whole time the grill is on. And I’m not joking. You don’t want to burn the thing at the last minute!

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