This is a true story. Quite a few years ago I had a crush on this boy and after a couple of months of flirting, in a poorly thought-trough attempt to move things along, I invited him over for dinner. Equipped with barely the knowledge how to boil pasta I think I called my Mom five or six times over the course of the next week asking how to make a some of her specialties which mistakenly left her with the impression that I had suddenly become very interested in learning how to cook. The dinner (chicken with potatoes and ice-cream) turned out fine but the boy ended up being a huge disappointment. Many months after it was all over, my Mom sent me a Christmas present - a cookbook! And not any cookbook, but the encyclopedical "1585 of the Best and Tested Recipes" by Penka Cholcheva, which is sort of the Bulgarian version of The Joy of Cooking. Forward 6 years, the book is still sitting on my bookshelf and I don't think I have made a single recipe from it. Until last week that is.
Last weekend I came home from the farmers market with more than two pounds of summer squash. I had given myself an interesting task - pick one from each shape and color of summer squash I could find at the market and ended up with the assortment above. Purrrrtty! And I decided to put them to use by making Mrs. Cholcheva's Squash Bourek. Bourek is typically a dish containing cheese and eggs, but since this one also has a browned top crust I will christen in a gratin. It ended up being absolutely fantastic! The proportions are approximate from what I did to fit a 8x8 inch pan.
Summer Squash Gratin
1 1/2 lb summer squash or zucchini, sliced into thin rounds, ~1/8 inch
1 C ricotta or feta, crumbled
1 C yogurt
1 bunch fresh dill, chopped
1. Preheat the oven to 450 F. Lightly oil the baking pan you will be using.
2. Salt the squash slices lightly and let them drain for a few minutes until you do the rest of the prep work.
3. In a bowl whisk the cheese with two eggs and the dill until well mixed. Season with salt if using ricotta.
4. In a second bowl whisk the yogurt and the other two eggs. Season with salt.
5. Squeeze the zucchini lightly.
6. Place a layer of half of the zucchini on the bottom of the pan, overlapping rounds so that the bottom is well covered. Pour the cheese-egg mixture on top and spread evenly. Layer the rest of the zucchini. Pour the yogurt-egg mixture on top and spread evenly.
7. Bake for about 45 minutes, until it starts browning on top. Finish of with a few minutes under the broiler to brown nicely. Serve hot or cold. Either way, very tasty, an excellent sink for spare squash and a good source of protein.
Unfortunately, this only used up half of my squash (all the long ones). The round and flying-saucer shaped ones were doomed to another week in the fridge but then rewarded for their patience by being turned into ratatouille... But this is a whole different story...