If there was a summer side dish MVP, I have no doubt it would be awarded to gratins. They're simple, versatile, and reliable -- the kind of dish that's worth turning on the oven for.
The sheer abundance of summer squash in the garden and at the market has a way of making it feel totally overwhelming. They're everywhere, but that's precisely one of the reasons I love them so much -- there are so many varieties, and so many ways to eat them. Yet, again and again I always come back to the humble gratin.
This version is filled with layers of yellow and green squash, complemented with the subtle aroma of lemon and thyme, and topped with a crunchy mixture of panko and Parmesan. It's the kind of light side that deserves a place on your summertime table from brunch through dinner.
SUMMER SQUASH GRATIN
• 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
• 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
• 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
• 2 medium shallots, thinly sliced
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 pounds summer squash, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces
• 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves F
• inely grated zest from 1/2 lemon
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
• Freshly ground black pepper
Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 400 F. Mix 2 tablespoons of the oil with the panko and Parmesan in a medium bowl; set aside.
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a 6- to 8-inch oven-safe frying pan or skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and fragrant, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more.
Remove the pan from the heat and add the squash, thyme, lemon zest and salt. Season with pepper, stir to combine, and spread into an even layer. Sprinkle the panko mixture evenly over the squash.
Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until the top is golden-brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool for about 5 minutes before serving.