Well, look what we have here. An old Pyrex pan. A brownish green square. The most delicious thing you’ve ever eaten (or so says Alex).
A few years ago, I got into the habit of turning leftover rice into this gratin, a recipe saved from an old Splendid Table newsletter. I wouldn’t say this was a frequent habit, but every six months, when there was leftover rice and not much else, I’d whip up a few eggs, shred some cheese, sauté whatever was green that I could find, and scrape the batter into a baking pan. Each time, I’d scoff: “Well, this is a humble one.” And each time, Alex would take his first bite and tell me: “You could make this every night.” He loves that dish.
By the third or fourth instance of our evenings playing out exactly like the above, I realized that the leftover had risen above leftover status. I’d have to figure out how to make the eggy, cheesy vegetable-laden (four whole zucchini go in!) dish intentionally.
Four odd years later, I got around to it, and I owe this welcome update to the the jar of fresh breadcrumbs caught my eye. I more or less collect heels and nubs and stale crusts of bread in the back of the fridge, and one day, fed up with all the separately wrapped and very hard pieces, I made a lifetime’s worth of breadcrumbs in my blender. Now I have a jar of fresh breadcrumbs that’s a lot less painful to behold–and the inspiration for this simple dinner.
With vegetable-rice gratin in mind and breadcrumbs in the jar, I updated that old gratin recipe into this easy, healthful bake. Besides making Alex a really happy guy, there are a lot of uses for this. You can cut small squares and pack them as protein-rich snacks. A bigger piece, cold, would be excellent between two slices of focaccia, like a frittata sandwich. And because this has eggs, bread, vegetables, and cheese, I think you could make the argument that it is viable as breakfast, lunch, or dinner–or all three.
Eggy Zucchini Bake
Serves 2 to 4
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 bunch scallions, white and green chopped
4 medium zucchini or other summer squash, grated
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 to 1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves from 3-4 sprigs (dried works okay too)
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
4 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup grated aged gouda (about 3 ounces)
Oil a 9-by-9-inch square baking pan very well. (You can use pretty much any baking dish or skillet so long as it holds about 2 quarts.)
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the scallions and cook, stirring, until white parts are translucent and green parts have wilted, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the squash. Cook, stirring often, until the squash is soft and condensed, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and season with 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper, and the thyme. Taste to make sure the veggies are salty enough, adding more as needed.
In a mixing bowl, combine the cooked veggies with the breadcrumbs. Quickly stir in the eggs and cheese. Add another 1/4 teaspoon of salt.
Pour into the baking dish and smooth out the top. Bake for for 30 to 40 minutes, until cooked through and golden around the edges.