[Food Tip: Essential oils are what give herbs their flavors and aromas. These oils evaporate when herbs are exposed to air and heat, which is why some herbs are much more flavorful when used fresh, including basil, chervil, parsley, cilantro, dill, chives, and tarragon. Some herbs are hearty enough even when dried, such as bay, sage, thyme, rosemary, and oregano, but still are best fresh.]
This easy-to-make au gratin is a great way to use up those garden vegetables in the summertime. It also makes a tasty accompaniment to any Italian dish in the winter. Prep the zucchini and squash while the onions are sauteing and you’ll save time.
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large yellow onions (about 6 cups), peeled and thinly sliced
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
3 large tomatoes, halved and cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 ½ pounds zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch diagonal slices
1 ½ pounds yellow squash, cut into 1/4-inch diagonal slices
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup fresh thyme leaves
salt and pepper to taste
1 ½ cups low-fat Parmesan cheese, grated and divided into two portions
salt to taste
Heat oven to 375 degrees.
1) Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and saute for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic and continue to stir and saute for another 10 minutes or until onions are limp and golden. Spread onion-garlic mixture evenly in bottom of a 13″X9″X2″ glass baking dish. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons thyme. Set aside.
2) Place tomatoes on paper towel to remove any excess liquid.
3) Toss zucchini, yellow squash, 2 tablespoons olive oil, rest of thyme, and salt and pepper in a large bowl.
4) Set aside half of cheese to use as topping. Start at one end of the baking dish, press an overlapping layer of tomato slices, laid upright across end of dish. Sprinkle lightly with cheese. Overlap with a dense layer of zucchini, again positioned upright, followed by a dense layer of yellow squash. Repeat tomato, cheese, zucchini, and yellow squash and finish with a layer of tomatoes. Push the rows back to make more room for additional rows and to firmly pack the vegetables. Any remaining pieces can be fit into the layers so that the red, green, and yellow layers are packed firmly. Sprinkle remaining half of cheese evenly over top.
5) Bake for 75 minutes or until top is golden brown and a fork easily moves through squash. Liquid should be bubbling and have reduced considerably. Let stand for a few minutes before serving. Makes 10 servings as a side dish and 6 to 8 servings as a main dish.
Nutritional Analysis per side dish serving: 183 Calories; 39 percent fat (8 grams); <1 gram saturated fat; 12 percent protein; 49 percent carbohydrate; 4 grams fiber.