My Nanny Scher was a superb but simple cook. She sourced her meat and chicken from a kosher butcher in Stamford, CT and shopped her veggies and fruit from the corner grocer. In the summer, she grew a few tomatoes and zucchini in the small yard behind the multi-family, three story house my grandparents rented. She shared and swapped her small harvest with neighbors on the block, while exchanging recipes with her favorite Italian neighbors. She usually sautéed everything with lots of onions and often added ketchup for a touch of color and sweetness.
Here’s an updated version of what my Nanny made. Veggies are sliced more neatly here and the name is fancier but it’s in the same spirit of celebrating summer vegetables at their peak.
Recipe contributed to Kosher Like Me by Melissa Roberts
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp kosher salt (use ½ tsp if fine salt)
6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 large eggplant (1 lb), cut into ½” thick slices
2 medium zucchini and/or yellow squash (1¼ lbs), cut into ½” thick slices
2 large ripe tomatoes (1½ lbs), cut into ½” thick slices
4 (3”) sprigs fresh basil
3 (2” to 3”) sprigs fresh thyme
3 Tbsp finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano (*optional if making gratin parve)
Equipment: a shallow 2½ to 3 quart gratin or baking dish
Preheat oven to 425F with rack in middle.
Mince and mash garlic to a paste with salt using a large heavy knife. Combine with olive oil and pepper in a large bowl. Add eggplant and squash and toss to coat.
Alternately layer eggplant, zucchini, and tomato slices, in a single overlapping layer in dish. Drizzle any remaining oil from bowl over the top and scatter herb sprigs, tucking them in between vegetable slices. Cover tightly with foil and bake until vegetables are softened, about 1 hour. Sprinkle top with parmesan (if using) and continue to bake, uncovered, until top is golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes more.
**Gratin can be made 1 day ahead, covered with foil, and chilled. Served hot, warm, room temp, or even cold.