Wednesday, July 23, 2008

herbed summer squash and potato torte

potato summer squash torte

This poor things isn’t going to be winning any beauty pageants, and especially not in the rushed, omg-it’s-10p.m., why-aren’t-you-ready-yet way I cooked it, but this torte should not be underestimated. It’s some delicious stuff.

summer squash

green onions

Though this is far from the most pitiful offender on the cooking backlog list, I still won’t admit how many weeks ago I made this. However, I do remember that I had a hankering for potatoes that week, and not just any potatoes, but yukon golds. As Alex always says, my cravings come with very specific instructions.

thyme

the "glue" between the layers

But summer doesn’t seem the right time our typical preparation–chunked and roasted until brown with salt, pepper and olive oil–and this torte, cut with yellow summer squash is lighter and perfect, especially served right from the oven with a green or tomato salad.

potato summer squash torte

If you’re like me, you’re probably going to look at the recipe and think, doesn’t that sound a little bland? And “sound” is the choice descriptor there, because this is anything but, and the secret is that it’s perfectly seasoned. There are few better homages to the value of the right level of seasoning–salt and pepper both–than the depth this recipe gets out of relatively simple ingredients.

potato summer squash torte

Herbed Summer Squash and Potato Torte
Adapted from Bon Appetit, June 2001

This torte can easily be made ahead and reheated as you need it for guests. In fact, it’s even better reheated because there is something about potatoes that have been cooked twice–they getting browner at the edges and more tender inside, creating an excellent contrast.

New note, 5/31/12: Just wanted to let you know that I made this the other night with the season’s first summer squash as a single torte in a 10-inch cast iron skillet. I created 4 layers of potatoes and 3 of the squash and it was a bit tall going into the oven, almost overflowing, but it absolutely bakes down into a lovely height. I recommend lightly buttering or oiling your foil if you use this method, so that it doesn’t stick to the top layer of potatoes before they shrink down. It needed about 10 minutes more baking time to get tender. Just like the original, we liked it even more reheated on day two (and three). But I think I will make it this way for now on because it felt simpler and heartier. It’s been a side dish for us for three nights.

Makes 8 servings

1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
12 ounces yellow crookneck squash or regular yellow or green summer squash, cut into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
6 teaspoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter two 8-inch-diameter cake pans. (Deb note: I had only a 9-inch pan around, so what you see in my pictures is slightly thinner.) Set aside 1/4 cup sliced green onions. Toss remaining green onions, cheese, flour, thyme, salt and pepper in medium bowl to blend.

Layer 1/6 of potatoes in concentric circles in bottom of 1 prepared pan, overlapping slightly. Layer 1/4 of squash in concentric circles atop potatoes. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon oil. Sprinkle with 1/6 of cheese mixture. Repeat with 1/6 of potatoes, then 1/4 of squash and 1 teaspoon oil. Sprinkle with 1/6 of cheese mixture. Top with 1/6 of potatoes. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon oil. Sprinkle with 1/6 of cheese mixture and press gently to flatten. Repeat procedure with second cake pan and remaining potatoes, squash, oil, and cheese mixture.

Cover pans with foil. Bake until potatoes are almost tender, about 40 minutes. Remove foil; bake uncovered until tortes begin to brown and potatoes are tender, about 25 minutes longer. (Can be made 6 hours ahead. Cool. Cover with foil and chill. Rewarm, covered with foil, in 350°F oven until heated through, about 30 minutes.)

Cut each torte into wedges. Sprinkle wedges with 1/4 cup green onions; serve.


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