Thursday, September 30, 2010

going for the gold


A trip to Union Square Greenmarket yesterday left me dizzy with possibilities. This time of year is the absolute height of summer harvest and the choices were overwhelming. I had the urge to set up a stove and start cooking right in the middle of the market having all the amazing produce within arm's reach. Needing to narrow this fantasy down a bit I found myself gravitating towards the glowing golden summer squash. When I got home and glanced out the window to my backyard that same golden color dotting the gardenscape. Ah, the charms of early fall!

My husband and I are planning a trip to Paris and we leave next week! In anticipation I have been browsing the internet for interesting items to add to our itinerary. What bliss when I discovered a charming charming oh so charming blog called Paris Breakfast. The photos are sublime and the point of view is tres chic! Today's color story is an homage to Paris Breakfast. Merci Madame!

The golden summer squash I picked up at the market reminded me of a recipe I have not made in a few years: a summer squash gratin. It is a deceptively delicious dish with a surprisingly rich flavor. I once brought it to a dinner party hosted by four strapping brothers, not realizing they were dedicated carnivores who never entertain vegetables. This humble dish was passed around the table and the brothers gave it full approval. One of them commented that it tasted like Thanksgiving. Not bad, right?

Summer Squash Gratin
4 small yellow squash, thinly sliced
1 onion, thinnly sliced
3 Tbs. Olive oil
1/4 grated Parmesan Cheese
3 Tbs. chopped fresh Thyme
salt and pepper
Heat olive oil in a saute pan and cook the onions slowly till golden brown, about 10 minutes. In a baking dish arrange a layer of half the sliced squash, top with half the onions and half the herbs. Repeat with remaining squash, onions and herbs. Sprinkle the  cheese on top and drizzle a little more olive oil over the top. Salt and pepper to taste. Place in oven and bake for 45 minutes until the squash is tender.

I definitely get the connection between this dish and Thanksgiving! In fact, this dish will likely appear on my table on that day, my most favorite of holidays! I love the simplicity of this recipe and the wonderful results I'm sure it yields.

I don't talk much about Merlot in our blog. It's just not one of my regular "go to" wines. Not that I have anything against it. It just escapes my radar for some reason. But funny. When I read Deb's post, I instantly thought of Merlot as the ideal match for this Gratin. Merlot not only displays ripe plum and dark fruit flavors, but it commonly will give off hints of tobacco, tea leaf, rosemary, thyme, fennel, mushroom and sage on the palate. The idea of these characteristics mingling with the parmesan and thyme flavors from the dish delights me! Remember - you want to match a wine to a dish based on the sauces, marinades, or herbs used - not necessarily the main ingredient. So the thyme, parmesan and carmelized onions are really what has driven me to the thought of Merlot. My mouth waters thinking about it!

If you are looking for something inexpensive that can be enjoyed on an everyday basis, the Columbia Crest Horse Heaven Hills from Washington State is a good place to start. For $10.99, the wine is a true bargain. For a little more money, St Francis in Sonoma County is another reliable source for Merlot, and can be found in the $17 price range. And, if a special occasion calls for a higher-end wine, the Merlot from Rombauer in the Carneros area of Napa is a sure-fire hit. Sitting around a table with family and friends while enjoying Deb's gratin and sipping a glass of Rombauer is a recipe for a spectacular night!

1 comment:

  1. Anything gratin is divine in my books.
    Your pictures are BEAUTIFUL!
    Merci for the links


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