Friday, November 19, 2010

Per request...another gratin!

As I mentioned in my previous "gratin" post, this has been a gratin-filled fall! You may all be wondering how I manage to keep my cholesterol at a normal level with all of the eggs I have been consuming, but I am going to reveal a secret:  dietary cholesterol (from foods, such as eggs) does not significantly affect cholesterol levels because the body adjusts its own production of cholesterol based on what you eat. (On the other hand, dietary intake of foods with saturated fats, especially those from animal sources, DO have an affect on cholesterol levels...a side of LDL anyone?) If you don't believe me, check out Harvard's take on it (

Now that we have cleared that up, let's get back to GRATIN. After my recent post, a friend requested that I share the recipe of the gratin that I cooked up for her earlier in the season when summer squash was at the peak of its season and piled high at the farmers' market in Lincoln Park, Chicago. This recipe, just like the Fennel and Leek Gratin, uses cheeses lower in fat (i.e. feta, cottage cheese) than the typical "go-to" cheese for baked egg dishes, Gruyere, keeping the calories and fats in check. You do need a few more pieces of equipment for this one (i.e. grater, sieve), however, so make sure that you (always!) read over the recipe before you get started.

Okay, so enough of the prattle. Here you go, Jam!

Summer Squash and Cottage Cheese Gratin

2 cups small-curd low-fat or nonfat cottage cheese
1 1/2 pounds summer squash (can be yellow, green or a mixture)
Salt to taste
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 to 2 garlic cloves, minced (optional)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
4 eggs
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1/4 cup grated Gruyère cheese
Freshly ground pepper

1. Place the cottage cheese in a strainer set over a bowl, and drain for 20 minutes while you prepare the remaining ingredients. Grate the squash, and place in a large bowl or colander. Sprinkle with salt and toss. Allow to sit for 20 minutes. Squeeze out excess water, then squeeze in a towel to dry.

2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Oil a 2-quart gratin or baking dish. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a medium frying pan, and add the onion. Cook, stirring, until tender, about five minutes. Add the garlic, and stir for another 30 seconds to a minute until fragrant. Remove from the heat.

3. Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Stir in the cottage cheese, parsley, dill, Gruyère, onion and garlic, and squash. Combine well. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and scrape into the oiled baking dish. Bake 45 minutes or until set and lightly browned. Remove from the heat, and allow to sit for five to 10 minutes before serving. You can also serve this warm or at room temperature.

Yield: Serves six.

Advance preparation: You can grate and salt the squash several hours before you make the gratin. The gratin will keep for a couple of days in the refrigerator, and can be reheated or served cold or at room temperature.

Nutritional information per serving (using 2 percent low-fat cottage cheese): 174 calories; 9 grams fat; 3 grams saturated fat; 153 milligrams cholesterol; 8 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams dietary fiber; 315 milligrams sodium (does not include salt added during preparation); 16 grams protein

Nutritional information per serving (using fat-free cottage cheese): 162 calories; 7 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 149 milligrams cholesterol; 19 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams dietary fiber; 353 milligrams sodium (does not include salt added during preparation); 16 grams protein

Recipe source:

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