1. Summer Vegetable Gratin

The final product.

Hello, readers! Welcome to my cooking blog. I’m so pleased that you’ll be joining me on my journey through America’s Test Kitchen’s Complete Vegetarian Cookbook! It’s a big undertaking, but I plan to go through the cookbook cover to cover and share my experiences with each recipe.

Dinnertime at my house is a big challenge. I’m feeding a family of six, and my oldest child is an EXTREMELY picky eater. It’s important to me to serve nutritious meals, but I also like to try to keep things quick and easy without a lot of mess to clean up afterwards. My skills in the kitchen are okay, but I’m no master chef. I’ve always had good experiences with America’s Test Kitchen recipes, and our family likes to eat vegetarian a lot of the time, so I thought this cookbook would be a good one to use for this project. I’ll be rating each recipe based on its difficulty, kid-friendliness, and amount of time and mess involved, and then give an overall thumbs up or thumbs down.

The very first recipe, which I tried out last Wednesday, was the colorful and tasty Summer Vegetable Gratin. My project was not off to a great start when, right away, I was slicing my lovely organic zucchini from Whole Foods and out popped a little worm. Luckily, I had an extra zucchini and that was the one and only mishap that took place.

Not what you want to see when slicing up a vegetable…

This recipe turned out to be relatively easy and quite tasty. The squash and zucchini made a nice mild base, and the fresh tomatoes and Parmesan added a little savory zing. It wasn’t quite substantial enough to be a dinner by itself, so I served it with garlic bread (seasoned with a little Parmesan as well). 

The time factor for this recipe wasn’t great, though. You have to let the sliced vegetables sit and drain for a while so they aren’t too wet, and cooking the onions takes 20-25 minutes (and several tablespoons of water to keep them from burning and sticking). 

Look at those gorgeous tomatoes!

The bottom line:

This would be a good recipe for a laid-back summer day, when you have a lot of time and access to really good vegetables. It was definitely delicious.

Difficulty: Not a whole lot of chopping involved, simple ingredients and process. I give it 2 chef knives out of 5. 🔪🔪

Kid-friendliness: My kids have three basic modes: love it, hate it, and willing to eat a reasonable number of bites of it. This one fell in the third category. 3 yummy faces out of 5. 😋😋😋

Time: This took a pretty long time for a relatively simple recipe, what with the draining, slow cooking of the onions, and baking time of 45 minutes or so. 5 snails out of 5. 🐌🐌🐌🐌🐌

Mess: A little on the messy side (prep bowls, lots of paper towels, colander, baking sheets, frying pan, baking dish — the works). 4 dirty dishes out of 5. 🥣🥣🥣🥣

Overall: 👍🏽

Here’s a link to the recipe if you don’t have the cookbook: (sign up for a subscription– it’s well worth it!): https://www.americastestkitchen.com/recipes/4313-summer-vegetable-gratin?incode=MASAD00L0&ref=new_search_experience_2

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