Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Zucchini and Yellow Squash Gratin

It's easy to cook for someone from the same cultural background as you. My boyfriend, P., is basically a meat and potatoes guy. But thanks to spending the first 13 years of his life in Uzbekistan, the former Soviet republic, he knows all about Russian food. Kasha? He was practically weaned on that stuff. Tvorog? A wonderful midnight snack. Beet salad? I want some more, please. How often do you find a big guy's guy who happily eats cabbage and beef aspic?

Unfortunately, P.'s palate is too russified for some popular American foods. Namely pasta, but especially any kind of veggie-sauce pasta, which he says is food for "girls on diets." (Dried pasta gets no respect in Russian cooking. One cookbook I own advises boiling it for 25 minutes.) I love girlie pasta and that's what I often make when I find myself eating on my own. Today's lunch wasn't technically a pasta dish, but it's good with any kind of noodle.

Slice a bunch of zucchini and yellow squash (I used two of each) into 1/4 inch rounds. In batches, sauté in olive oil for a little while until the vegetables soften. Spread the veggies in a casserole dish with a couple of minced and sautéed garlic cloves. Top with some good tomato sauce. I didn't have any sauce so I used halved cherry tomatoes. Sprinkle the whole thing with grated mozzarella--you judge how much is enough--and Parmesan. Bake in a 425-degree oven until the cheese is slightly browned.

Appropriate sides are good bread or new potatoes, but I ate this with linguine, pouring the zucchini-olive oil-tomato juices on top. This is really late summer food and I hope that I'll be eating it by the panful in August.


Anonymous said...

I love pasta with roasted vegetables, but unless I put meat in it, my husband is pretty unhappy at the dinner table.

Your recipe sounds like something I would really like.

Jeff said...

That looks great. I think a bit of prosciutto or pancetta would be a great addition to this dish and would give the meat lovers something to enjoy.

Anonymous said...

This does look good, and it reminds me of my mom's pasta with roasted vegetables. I like Jeff's idea for pancetta.

That's hilarious that your man calls it "food for girls on diets." I'm going to start using that line.

Mrs. M. said...

Pancetta sounds good--I might try that next time. Sometimes I toss in other sauteed veggies, especially mushrooms, in with the zucchini.

I'm no vegetarian but I could go without meat for weeks at a time. I wouldn't feel like cooking meat on the side for the boyfriend, however, so he'd have to fend for himself.

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