Monday, August 25, 2014

What To Do With All This Squash?

Recipe: Potato, Squash, and Goat Cheese Gratin
Time: 65 minutes (prep and baking time)
Ease: 3
Taste: 6
Leftover Value: 5
Down the Drain or Keep in the Strainer: Keep it in the Strainer!

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My husband decided to plant an abundance of yellow squash this summer.  He claims he planted other things.  Other things like zucchini, peppers, carrots, and cucumbers.  Our crop yielded none of those things, save four cucumbers and never-ending yellow squash.

We reached a point during dinner, when yellow squash was yet again the side dish, when we both looked at each other and said, "I think I'm tired of yellow squash."  

I could be to blame.  I don't get too fancy with my veggies.  I slice 'em, dice 'em, and cook 'em.  After making my entree, I don't really have the time to be bothered with side dishes.*

I decided to search for a recipe that would highlight the yellow squash and make it lovable again in my house.

Potato, Squash, and Goat Cheese Gratin was the perfect choice.

*Note: This is a lie.  It should really say, "...when cooking for the two of us."  Because, when I am making a meal for family and/or friends I go all out.  

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The best part of this recipe was using the mandoline to slice the potatoes and squash.  I've used my mandoline maybe five times--tops--in the seven years I've been married.  I know how wonderful it is, but somehow I always convince myself that I can slice things by hand just as perfectly as the mandoline can.

Then I begin to use it and realize just how wrong that thought is.  For starters, you can't beat the ease of just sliding your vegetable back and forth to create even and uniform slices.  Not only that, but clean up equals basically the same amount of kitchen materials if instead you had used a knife and cutting board.

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That said, I'm hoping to incorporate mandoline use into my kitchen a little more in the future.

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After slicing the potatoes and squash, tossing them with some olive oil, 1/3 of the mixture is spread out in a dish.  The recipe said it didn't matter how they were laid out--in other words, it didn't need to be a perfect pattern of potato-squash-potato-squash, but my perfectionist side of me had a difficult time completely following that step.

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Goat cheese is sprinkled on top of the first layer of veggies.  These two steps are repeated and the second layer of cheese is topped with the remaining potato and squash.

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The recipe boasts that it does not use cream, only a splash of milk (1/4 cup) to keep the vegetables tender.

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A sprinkle of fresh grated Parmesan cheese adds a little more flavor and charm to the top of this dish.

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And of course, so does a sprinkle of fresh basil, picked from the garden, next to--you guessed it--more squash.

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I served this for lunch one summer Saturday.  Hubby needed some protein to go with it, so I seasoned some chicken breasts and pan fried them in a little olive oil and butter combo until they browned.

I didn't expect Hubby to enjoy this dish.  As I've said before, he's unpredictable.  Surprisingly, we both really enjoyed it.  He had no complaints.  My only issue was that I felt the goat cheese was a little over powering and it took away from the veggies.  My future adjustment to the recipe would be to first try it with half the amount of goat cheese.  If it was then lacking a desired amount of cheesiness, I would play around with adding two ounces of another cheese--hello, Feta?