Ciao'd after a day at the races.
Gratinato is the Italian word for gratin, a French dish baked in a shallow pan and topped with something that browns to gratifying crunchiness, such as breadcrumbs or cheese. In this recipe, I used both. Classically, potatoes cook to creamy lusciousness under the topping, but truth be told, any vegetable or pasta (think macaroni and cheese) can play the starring role. In this rendition, I topped zucchini with panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) for an extra dose of crispy and tossed them with fresh (semi-soft) Asiago cheese and a kiss of Parmesan. The gratinato makes a fresh yet earthy side dish for grilled or roasted meats and poultry. I eat it on its own for lunch, too.
Serves 4 to 6
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 to 2 1/2 pounds medium zucchini (4 to 5), sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 cup thinly sliced green onions (about 5), white and green parts
2 garlic cloves, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 cup hot whole milk
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1 cup panko
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup grated fresh Asiago cheese
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Grease a 2-quart shallow baking dish with 1 tablespoon of the butter.
In a large skillet over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until the onions are just translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the zucchini, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until almost tender, 4 to 6 minutes.
Reduce the heat to medium-low. Stir in the flour. Add the hot milk, basil, and mint and cook until the liquid thickens, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish.
Combine the panko, Asiago, and the remaining Parmesan. Sprinkle on top of the zucchini mixture Dot with the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, cut into bits, and bake until bubbly and browned, 15 to 20 minutes. If the topping browns too quickly, cover the baking dish with aluminum foil. Remove the a minute or two before taking the dish out of the oven.