Zucchini & Feta Summer Gratin

Thursday, July 25, 2013

In my book, summer cooking is all about the "F's". ... I can see some eyebrows already getting higher so let me explain... 

.... F as in Fresh,   Fragrant,   Fuss-free,   Flavourful food.....


Feta cheese!!!!!

I adore feta cheese! It is in my genes, I am Greek after all, but even if I wasn't I am sure I would have found my way to a barrel of this heavenly dairy creation! Excuse the hyperbole but I seriously have a crush on this cheese. I know because I can never get tired of eating it!. 

What makes me even happier than a piece of fresh, firm piece of feta drizzled with olive oil, oregano and a ripe tomato  on the side, is a recipe which uses my favourite cheese is a way that works in harmony with the rest of the ingredients.

This lovely summer dish is made with seasonal ingredients. Zucchini is the undisputed king of summer  and an all-time favourite of mine, and together with fennel and dill they make the Holy Trinity of summer aromatic combinations. The feta is there to bind everything together. Its salty sharpness is  beautifully tamed by the sweetness of the vegetables leading to a perfect harmony of flavours.

I have to apologise for the bad photograph. I was supposed to leave it to cool down a bit before I take the picture but that was simply impossible. The smell was so tantalisingly appetising I just snapped a quick one and grabbed a spoon....  It was all gone in less than 10 minutes.

I will be making this recipe again and again and again and maybe one of these times I will remember to take a better one!

Zucchini & Feta Summer Gratin
Adapted from Argyro Barbarigou, Gastronomos June 2008
Serves 4
8 big zucchini, grated
2 onions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
400 gr feta cheese, crumbled
3 eggs
2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
1 large fennel bulb, grated
Place the grated zucchini in a colander and sprinkle it with about 1 teaspoon of salt. Mix it well and leave the zucchini in the colander for about 10 minutes. We do this so that the zucchini would be able to release most of its liquids.

In a large pot heat the olive oil and sauté the onions and fennel for 5 minutes, just until they start to glisten and become transparent. We don't want them to become brown!

Squeeze the zucchini with your hands to remove as much of the liquid as possible and then put in the pot with the onion and fennel. Cook for 5 more minutes and then remove from the heat. Leave it to cool down a bit for about 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F.

In a bowl, beat the eggs and add the crumbled feta cheese. Add a bit of pepper but be careful with the salt because there is already salt in the zucchini and the cheese is quite salty. Stir it very well and add it to the zucchini mix together with the chopped dill.

Oil an oven-proof deep dish and pour in the mixture. Bake for 35 - 40 minutes, or until the surface becomes golden.

Remove from the oven and let it cool for 10 minutes before serving - if you can control yourselves that is!!!!