Monday, September 26, 2011

by default

I'm a bit embarrased by the market riches that adorned my counter a few weeks ago.

I've written before about our farmer's market cooking competitions - this year I've participated in all of them. I did a rhubarb crumb cake for Best Cake (didn't win), Zucchini Loaf for Best Sweet Loaf (won), Banana Oatmeal Macaroons for Best Cookie (won) and a couple of weeks ago I took Summer Squash Casserole for the Best Casserole contest. I won by default as there were no other entrants. But the dish was well received. The leftovers were being guarded by the market organizer for her afternoon snack. I did get my dish towel back that I'd wrapped the casserole in to keep it warm as I dropped it off early in order to get my eggs (they sell out early in good weather - come the rain and eggs are available into the afternoon).

I'd been trying to come up with a recipe to submit for this contest and finally settled on this one after made it from the squash in my last winning market basket a few weeks prior. I found the recipe on Heidi's 101cookbooks and it is delicious. And I loved that it featured things that I routinely get from the market (cheese, parsley) and from my garden (zucchini, oregano) and my own pantry (bread). I was given a huge zucchini from a co-worker a few days before the contest and that sealed the deal.

The boy was covered in a mystery rash that morning and I was going to take him to the clinic once it opened but by the time we headed that way, the rash was getting better and the boy was vociferous in his desire to not see the doctor.

In my winning basket I received tomatoes, beets, zucchini (ironic!), eggplant, banana peppers, garlic, cherry tomatoes, a large hydrangea, strawberry preserves, pineapple salsa, a gorgeous orchid fridge magnet, two huge cinnamon buns, some coconut snack bites and a bunch of pickling cucumbers.

Summer Squash Casserole (adapted from 101cookbooks)
zest of one lemon
1 1/2 pounds summer squash or zucchini, cut into 1/6th-inch slices
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley
1 large garlic clove, chopped
1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
pinch of red pepper flakes
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 cups fresh whole bread crumbs
1/2 pound waxy potatoes, sliced transparently thin
3/4 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese, grated on a box grater

Preheat oven to 400F degrees and place a rack in the middle. Rub a 9x9 pan with a bit of olive oil, sprinkle with lemon zest, and set aside.

Place the zucchini slices into a colander placed over a sink, toss with the sea salt and set aside for 10-15 minutes (to drain a bit). Make the sauce by pureeing the oregano, parsley, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt, red pepper flakes, and olive oil in a food processor.

Make the breadcrumbs by melting the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook for a few minutes until the butter is wonderfully fragrant, and has turned brown. Wait two minutes, then stir the breadcrumbs into the browned butter.

Transfer the squash to a large mixing bowl. Add the potatoes and the oregano sauce. Toss until everything is well coated. Add the cheese and half of the bread crumbs and toss again.

Transfer the squash to the lemon-zested pan, top with the remaining crumbs, and bake for somewhere between 40 and 50 minutes.

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