Zucchini Gratin

May 26, 2009

Zucchini is an immature fruit, being the swollen ovary of the female flower of a summer squash. Natives of Central and South America have been enjoying zucchini for several thousand years, but our present day zucchini is likely a variety of the squash developed in Italy—a result of New World explorers returning to Europe bearing seeds. The word “zucchini” derives from the Italian zucchino, meaning small squash.

Fresh zucchini season at the local farmer’s markets here is not a far cry away.


4 T unsalted butter
1 t dried thyme
2 medium yellow onions, peeled and sliced thin
2 lbs zucchini (4-5), sliced medium thin
1 C cream
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 plump, fresh garlic clove, peeled

Grated fresh nutmeg
1/2 C fresh bread crumbs
1 C Gruyère, grated

Preheat the oven to 400 F

Melt the butter in a very large, heavy sauté pan and cook the onions over medium low heat, sprinkled with thyme, until tender but not browned, about 15-20 minutes. After draining some spread the onions out evenly in a baking or gratin dish which has already been rubbed with the fresh garlic. Arrange the zucchini, overlapping some, on top of the onions. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cover with cream.

Sprinkle the zucchini mixture first with the grated nutmeg, then bread crumbs and finally the Gruyère. Place in the oven and bake until the zucchini is tender, but not too soft, and browned, about 20-25 minutes.