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Zucchini Tomato Gratin

The red and green colors of this dish are as bright as a spring day in Provence, which is the place that lends its name to the herb blend used to season this dish. It is easy to make, and best of all, can be assembled up to 6 hours in advance, covered, and kept at room temperature. However, do not add the cheese and breadcrumbs until you’re ready to bake the dish. This casserole is equally good warm or at room temperature, making it a perfect do-ahead dish.

1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons olive oil
1 large red onion, about 1 pound, cut into 1/4-inch slices
2 shallots, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 clove garlic, minced
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
2 medium zucchini, about 1/2 pound, cut on the bias into 1/2-inch disks
5 ripe medium tomatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), cut crosswise into 1/2 inch slices
2 teaspoons herbes de Provence, crumbled
3 ounces Grana Padano, finely grated (or use American parmesan, Parmigiano-Reggiano, or an aged crottin)
Preheat the oven to 425˚F.

Have ready a 1-quart rectangular or oval gratin dish or shallow casserole (an 11-inch glass pie plate will also work).

In a small baking pan, mix the bread crumbs with 2 teaspoons of the olive oil. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes, or until bread crumbs are toasted. Set aside.

Heat 1 tabelpsoon of the olive oil in a large sauté pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and shallots and sauté for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and cook until soft but not brown, about 2 minutes. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Spoon the onion mixture into the bottom of the gratin dish.

Assemble the gratin by alternating slices of zucchini and tomato over the onions at a 45˚ angle to one end of the dish. Do this by starting with one slice of zucchini, laying it at an angle against the end of the gratin dish and leaning a slice of tomato against the zucchini. Continue layering in this fashion. Sprinkle with herbes de Provence and remaining ½ teaspoons salt and 3/8 teaspoon pepper. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil, sprinkle with the cheese, then the bread crumbs over the gratiin, and bake an additional 15 minutes, or until zucchini feels soft but firm when pierced with a fork and the cheese is golden brown.

Place on a cooling rack and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Cut and serve.

Serves 4 to 6