Bursting in summer color, our gardens and markets are at their peak. They overflow with summer squash, ripe tomatoes, green beans, broccoli, beets, fragrant herbs, greens, alliums, and so much more. My own large market basket also overflows this time of year. As all I want to eat are these vibrant, just harvested vegetables. They inspire my summer meals. And they star in this recipe for Summer Squash Tomato Bake. (If only I was similarly inspired with a better name. Any suggestions?)
Capturing summer’s essence
Elizabeth David, known as Britain’s first lady of food, vividly expresses the spirit of summer cooking as “a capacity to capture the essence of the fleeting moment.” An especially important intention for those of us living in the long-wintered northern climates.
Summer Squash Tomato Bake — tasting savory with a hint of natural sweetness, and colorful and fragrant with vegetables and herbs of “the fleeting moment”— indeed, captures summer’s essence.
- Toss the sliced squash with a generous pinch of salt.
- Then let it drain in a strainer about 30 minutes while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Dedicating to you
This recipe’s for all of you dear readers wondering what else to make with your abundance of summer squash. And most especially it is for you, dear Robin, with your “thousands of zucchini.” May Summer Squash Tomato Bake help ease your angst and soothe your culinary soul. ♥ ♥ ♥
Although optional, lightly sprinkling a bit of grated aged, sharp cheddar or sheep’s milk Pecorino Romano on the top during the last 20 minutes of baking adds a depth of umami deliciousness. Serve Summer Squash Tomato Bake as a flavorsome side vegetable or as a main course over a bed of your favorite whole grains. Naturally gluten-free.
Thank you, Syliva Fountaine, for inspiring this recipe.
Serves 4-8 Printer-Friendly Recipe
Active time 45 minutes
Total time 2 hours plus 15 minutes of resting
1 ½ pounds of summer squash, including a mix of both zucchini and yellow squash
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1 large onion, peeled, thinly sliced pole-to-pole (2-2 ½ cups)
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 large cloves garlic, peeled, very thinly sliced
½ tablespoon sundried tomato paste
1 1/8 pounds fresh tomatoes, ½-inch diced (3 cups)
¼ teaspoon sea salt
8 twists freshly ground pepper (1/4 teaspoon)
½ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
¼ cup fresh basil chiffonade
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Scant ½ cup grated aged, sharp cheddar cheese or Pecorino Romano
Additional chopped fresh parsley leaves for garnish
- Thinly slice the summer squash about ¼-inch thick. I use the 4mm blade of my food processor.
- Place the squash in a colander. Sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon of salt. Toss gently with a rubber spatula. Let the squash drain, tossing occasionally, while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
- Heat the oil in a 12-inch sauté pan over medium heat. When hot stir in the sliced onion. Cover the pan and cook for 5 minutes. Uncover the pan. Continue to cook the onion, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 minutes until a deep golden brown.
- Stir in the garlic. Cook for 2 minutes.
- Stir in the tomato paste. When well mixed, stir in the diced tomatoes, ¼ teaspoon each salt and freshly ground pepper, and fresh thyme. Bring the mixture to a boil. Lower the heat so the tomatoes simmer. Cook 10 minutes. Turn off the heat. Stir in the fresh basil and parsley.
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Lightly spray a 2 quart baking dish with olive oil spray. Spread 2/3 cup of the tomato sauce on the bottom of the baking dish.
- Place half of the squash in slightly overlapping concentric circles on top of the tomato sauce. Lightly sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Top with another 2/3 cup of tomato sauce.
- Place the remaining squash in slightly overlapping concentric circles on top of the tomato sauce. Lightly sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Top with the remaining tomato sauce.
- Tightly cover the dish with foil. Bake in the oven for 35 minutes.
- Remove the foil. Sprinkle with the optional grated cheese. Bake uncovered for an additional 20 minutes.
- Remove from the oven. Let the Summer Squash Tomato Bake rest for 15 minutes before serving with a garnish of fresh parsley leaves.