Be creative with yellow squash & zucchini
Besides the color, the main difference between yellow squash and green zucchini is the shape. Zucchini is green and straight, while yellow squash has a fat bottom and tapers towards the neck. Yellow squash also has large seeds in its flesh, which while edible, can be off-putting to some people. Yellow squash also tends to get mushy and water-logged if it’s over-cooked. Stick to dry, super-hot cooking techniques like roasting, grilling, and stir-frying to maintain excellent flavor and texture. Zucchini on the other hand can withstand gentler techniques such as steaming, and sauteing. I adore thinly sliced zucchini sauteed in plenty of olive oil, garlic, sea salt, and a flourish of fresh dill. It lovely on it’s own, as a side dish, or as an omelet filling. Flavor-wise, both are mild-tasting with a hint of earthy sweetness. Both zucchini and yellow squash can be used in both sweet and savory applications, from pastries, to tempura! Complement them both with warm, aromatic spices like garlic, ginger, and even cinnamon.
This dish screams summer time, even in the dead of winter. It’s hearty enough to serve as a main course, and it can be made ahead of time and re-heated easily. The fresh herbs are key here, as they lift out the freshness of all the beautiful veggies, ensuring their subtle flavors don’t get lost in all the gooey cheese.
6 tbs butter, divided
3 teaspoons olive oil
2 cups white onion, chopped finely
2 tbs minced garlic
2 cups red bell pepper, de-seeded and chopped
1 lb zucchini, sliced thinly into rounds
½ cup cooked brown rice
½ cup thinly sliced fresh basil, divided
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
Salt and pepper
¾ cup whole milk
6 ounces aged Gruyère or Fontina cheese, shredded
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tsp dried, ground mustard
1 ½ cups Panko bread crumbs
1 (12-ounce) beefsteak tomato, seeded and cut into thin slices
Preheat oven to 375°. Butter an 11 x 7inch glass or ceramic baking dish and set aside.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add 3 tbs butter and the olive oil. Add onion and garlic, and cook until soft, just beginning to brown. Add bell pepper and zucchini. Allow them to rest in the pan for a few minutes at a time before you stir, allowing their edges to caramelize. Add the rice, half the basil, the oregano, and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Set aside off the heat.
Combine the milk, cheese, eggs and mustard in a medium bowl. Add milk mixture to vegetable mixture, stirring until just combined. Spoon mixture into the prepared baking dish.
Melt the rest of the butter and mix it in with the breadcrumbs. Arrange tomatoes evenly over vegetable mixture. Top the veggie mix evenly with the breadcrumbs. Bake at 375° for 40 minutes or until topping is browned. Sprinkle with remaining basil and a touch of sea salt.