Au gratin is a term widely used in the culinary world, meaning to top something with a browned crust. The term originated in France, but au gratin style foods are found all over the world. Another accepted name for au gratin dishes is scalloped. We’ve all heard of scalloped potatoes. Scalloped potatoes is another name for potatoes au gratin, with a few minor, really undistinguishable differences. Any dish, whether sweet or savory can be cooked au gratin style. Usually sweet dishes are topped with any combination of eggs, butter, breadcrumbs, sugar or flour while savory dishes are crusted with cheese. Depending on what I am making, I often add nuts to the top as well. Though not much of a cheese eater normally, I do love the combined flavors of crusted cheese and toasted nuts. I make au gratin or scalloped dishes quite often, especially on cold wintery days. Anything goes when making a vegetable au gratin. There are no right or wrong vegetables to use. Just use what you like.
Zucchini-Mushroom Au Gratin
1 zucchini, sliced thin
1 yellow crookneck squash, sliced thin
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 TBSP garlic
1/4 cup sweet Spanish Peppers (optional)
salt & pepper to taste
1-2 tsp of dried herbs of your choice – I used basil, oregano, thyme and marjoram
olive oil/and or butter for cooking
3/4 cup mozzarella cheese or cheese of your choice
1/3 cup pine nuts or almonds (optional)
Saute the mushrooms, squash and garlic together until the squash is soft and tender. Mix in the seasonings and the Spanish peppers and transfer to a shallow baking dish sprayed with cooking spray.
Add the cheese and the pine nuts, if using, and bake at 400* F for about 25-30 minutes, or until you have a crusty brown topping. If you are roasting these with your meats, go by the temperature needed for the meat and adjust the cooking time as needed. I like using shredded cheese rather than chunks of cheese. I find it melts more evenly than chunks of cheese, but again, this is just a personal preference.
As I mentioned above, we eat this quite often. This time I served it along side my herb roasted chicken with tomato-olive sauce. Herb Roasted Chicken with Tomato-Olive Sauce. I always chuckle to myself when people think because I eat meat that I don’t eat a lot of vegetables as well. In this meal alone, we ate 8 different vegetables, and we do this quite often. Yes, we eat out meats, but we definitely eat our vegetables too. In fact, we eat a much broader range and variety of vegetables than most vegetarians and vegans I know.