30 August 2011

Simple Courgette & Basil Pesto Gratin

Courgettes (zucchinis), for me, are another favourite summer food. An unsung hero, really, and a master of versatility. You can bake them into cakes and bread. You can batter and fry them. You can toss them in couscous or quinoa. I've even been known to slice them thinly and eat them raw, with a tiny dab of greek yogurt and a sprinkle of salt on each one. And then, there's this:

I love dishes that make a vegetable the star of the show, and this gratin transforms the courgette to a diva with the most comfortable ease. Tossed with a little basil pesto, speckled with a light-flavoured cheese and topped with glorious, crispy breadcrumbs, this gratin is all I ever wanted. The cheese I had on hand today was wensleydale, but feta, gruyère, or even a mild cheddar would make excellent additions, too.

Courgette & Basil Pesto Gratin

2 medium courgettes
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
100g cheese, cut in small bits (I used Wensleydale)
small knob butter
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1 heaping tablespoon basil pesto

Thinly slice courgettes and toss in a big bowl with salt, rest for 30 min to draw out excess water. Drain using a colander, pressing down a bit to extract as much water as possible.
Heat oven to 190C. Put the butter in a glass baking dish and melt in the oven until it starts to brown. Pour over breadcrumbs and toss.
Place courgette slices in a bowl with wensleydale & pesto. Toss. Put in glass dish (same one) and top with breadcrumbs. Bake 20 minutes, being careful not to overcook the courgettes to a mush.

The end.


  1. There is a similar recipe on 101 Cookbooks. I'm not trying to question your originality - I think you would like it! http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/summer-squash-gratin-recipe.html

    I like your idea of using a basil pesto - I might try that next time in place of the parsley/oregano pesto in Heidi's recipe.

  2. Hi Monica, you are right! Heidi's recipe does look similar!! It's so good I reckon it's one of those things that's hit on again and again. I just loved the ease of tossing in a spoonful of basil pesto, and now that I think of it, it would be yummy tossed with some pasta and tomatoes... hmm...

  3. You could turn it into a baked pasta dish with minimal pasta - maybe an equal amount to the zucchini or something so it's more veg-heavy. I love how this is snowballing into a completely different recipe! :)

  4. Yum - love the idea of tossing with pesto before baking!!