Squash & Chard Gratin

I have a new favorite way to cook summer squash, folks! And that's by using it along with greens in a deliciously creamy and cheesy gratin. Check this out...

As you know, my kitchen is overflowing with beautiful summer squash from my Colvin Family Farm CSA shares. It's not a bad problem to have; but it is challenging to think of different ways to use the squash -- especially when you're one of those busy/on-the-go types who needs to be able to make dinner at Rachael Ray speed. I could always default to roasting, boiling, or sauteing it and serving it as a side dish. That's easy and quick to do. But it gets boring. Thankfully I had calm Sunday afternoon this past weekend, and it was the perfect time for me to use the squash a little more creatively and cook up a dish that takes about an hour and a half from prep to plate. 

There are essentially three major parts to the squash-chard-gratin-making process:

  1. Make the summer squash and greens mixture. (The greens are optional. I had a bunch of Swiss chard that needed to be used, so I added them into the dish.)
  2. Make creamy risotto.
  3. Mix the squash and greens with the risotto, bind it all with eggs, add in tons of cheese, and bake!

So here are the details of how I did it:

  1. I diced up four medium-sized yellow squash and one gigantic globe zucchini squash. I also roughly chopped a full bunch of Swiss chard (after removing the stems), and I minced four cloves of garlic.
  2. I heated up about two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a saute pan, and at the same time I brought a pot of water to a boil.
  3. I put the minced garlic in the pan and sauteed it for about 30 seconds. Then I added in the diced squash.
  4. In the pot, I tossed in the chopped chard leaves and let it boil for about two minutes. When the leaves softened, I strained them and added them to the pan with the squash.
  5. I let the squash and chard cook together for several minutes, then I transferred the mixture to a bowl, and set the bowl aside.
  6. As the squash and chard cooled, I cooked 1.5 cups of arborio rice with a total of 6 cups of hot chicken broth, which I ladled into the pan of arborio one half cup at a time until it became a creamy risotto (about 30 minutes later).
  7. In a big mixing bowl, I beat three eggs and combined the risotto and squash and chard. I seasoned it with salt and pepper and grated in about a half cup (maybe more) of parmesan and tossed in a quarter cup of goat cheese crumbles.
  8. In an oiled 13x9 glass baking dish, I scraped in everything from the mixing bowl. I grated a layer of parmesan all over the top. Then I put the baking dish in a 375 degree oven and baked it until the edges and top became a nice golden brown, which took about 40-45 minutes. 

And that's it! It's a dish that works wonderfully on its own or as a hearty side to any main. And it's now one of my new fave squash recipes for the CSA season!