Summertime, when the livin’ is easy… and when the Community Supported Agriculture box brings a relentless tide of tomatoes, zucchini, potatoes, and basil. I invented this gratin as a way to deal with my stockpile of summer produce, and the gorgeous colors, contrasting textures, and garlicky-basil flavors make summer that much more delicious.
*You can be fairly relaxed with ingredient amounts here. I’ve given you estimates, but you basically just want about twice as much potato as tomato & zucchini, by volume, sliced. If you have more or less of any of them, not a problem.*
2-3 lbs. new potatoes (I used Huckleberry pink potatoes and Yellow Finns), peels left on, sliced into thin rounds
2-4 zucchini, sliced into thin rounds or diagonally into thin ovals
2-4 tomatoes, sliced into rounds (as thin as you can get)
1 bunch basil, chiffonaded
10-20 garlic cloves, pressed or minced very fine
1/2 C. Earth Balance or other vegan butter substitute
1/2 C. unsweetened soy milk
2 t. lemon juice
2/3 C. olive oil
Salt & pepper
Place the sliced potatoes in a bowl with cold water to cover. Leave for at least 30 minutes, or up to an hour. Remove from the cloudy water, and dry with a clean towel.
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Make the vegan cream:
In a blender, combine 1/2 C. unsweetened soy milk with 2 t. lemon juice and blend for a minute and a half on high. While still running the blender, add 2/3 C. olive oil through the pouring hole in the blender cap, very slowly, in a one continuous stream. Keep blending until it gets thick. (If you have leftover cream you can refrigerate it. It will keep in the fridge for about a week.)
Butter the bottom and sides of an earthenware baking casserole (a gratin dish), large enough to fit all the veggies. Or if, like me, you have no round ceramic pan, use an ordinary casserole dish. Ideally you’ll want to make two full layers of each veggie and a final layer of potato, so use a square pan if you have fewer veggies, a large 9×13 rectangular pan if you have more veggies. Sprinkle crushed/minced garlic along the edges of the buttered sides of the pan.
Make a layer of potatoes, dot with Earth Balance (EB) pieces, sprinkle with salt and pepper, drizzle with a few spoonfuls of cream, scatter a little garlic on top.
Make a layer of zucchini rounds, dab a few bits of EB across the layer, sprinkle some salt and pepper, and arrange some basil strips across the layer. Drizzle with a few more spoonfuls of cream.
Make a layer of tomato slices. Sprinkle generously (but not excessively) with garlic and a few more dots of EB. More salt and pepper, a little more cream.
Repeat all this: potatoes with EB, s&p, garlic, cream; zucchini with EB, s&p, basil, cream; tomato with garlic, EB, s&p, cream.
Make a final layer of potatoes. End the top with a dabbing of butter, the last slosh of cream, and a sprinkling of salt and pepper.
Bake for an hour to an hour and a half, or until the potatoes are very tender and have absorbed all the cream; the top of the potatoes should be golden brown with darker brown splotches here and there. This is a very rustic dish and by its very nature is very forgiving timewise; if you need more time, lower the oven’s heat, and to speed the cooking up and give it a nice dark topping, raise the heat to 400°F for the last 10 to 15 minutes.
Serves 4-6. This is rich and filling, but would need some accompaniment to be a main dish.
The time needed to cook this recipe is more than one hour