Tomato, Squash and Red Pepper Gratin with Quinoa“Mom, why do farmers grow squash when nobody likes it?” That’s the question I get as I make our meal. “Well honey, many people DO like squash” is my reply, knowing full well that my son is not alone in the Squash Haters Club.
I don’t really get it. Summer squash is generally mild tasting, so much so that it can be easily hidden in many recipes. It's high water content adds moisture to dishes, and it's high in fiber helping us feel full long after eating. Plus squash is so dang versatile, loving to be sautéd, roasted, baked, fried…or added to chocolate cake. Heck, people even enjoy eating the squash flower!
I swear my boys do not like squash because of it’s name reminding them too much of what they do to bugs found indoors.
Alas, I will not give up my quest to change their minds on this versatile vegetable with so many interesting varieties. I will conquer their loathing of this plentiful plant overflowing at farmers markets much of the summer …or at least I’ll have fun trying!
Tomato, Squash and Red Pepper Gratin with Quinoa is my latest attempt with amazing results! Don’t let the number of ingredients scare you off and use whatever you have on hand. If you have a green pepper rather than red, no problem. A white onion vs. red, use it! Other easy swaps: any type squash for the zucchini; brown rice, bulgur, or other whole grain if you don’t have quinoa; use whatever good melting cheese you like, and whatever leftover bread you might have. Recipe adapted from the August 2012 issue of Cooking Light magazine
2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 large red onion, chopped (CJ's produce)
1 large red bell pepper, chopped (CJ's produce)
1 large zucchini, sliced into ¼ inch circles (CJ's produce)
2 cloves garlic, minced (Elixer Farm, Brixey, MO)
½ cup cooked quinoa
½ cup basil, sliced, divided (from my neighbor's garden with permission of course)
1 ½ tsp. fresh thyme chopped (from my garden)
about ½ tsp each salt and pepper
½ cup milk (we drink 1% so that’s what I used)
¾ cup shredded cheese- a good melting type (I used Havarti because that’s what we had)
3 large eggs, lightly beaten (CJ's produce)
1 ½ ounces baguette, torn into pieces (great way to use up your stale-ish bread!) (Fazio's Bakery, St. Louis, MO)
1 large tomato, sliced (Farrar Out Farm, Perryville, MO)
1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Heat skillet with about 1 Tbsp oil, add onion, cook about 3 minutes, then add bell pepper, cook 2 minutes more, then the squash and garlic, another 4 minutes. Stir in cooked quinoa, ¼ cup basil, thyme, salt, pepper. Place mixture into a large casserole dish coated with cooking spray.
3. Meanwhile, pulse bread in food processor until coarse crumbs form; heat remaining oil in skillet, add breadcrumbs and toast lightly.
4. Combine milk, cheese and eggs in a bowl, then pour over vegetable mixture.
5. Top with sliced tomatoes and toasted breadcrumbs. Bake at 375 for 40 minutes until top is browned. Sprinkle with remaining basil.