Karina's Zucchini Gratin

Gluten-Free Goddess Zucchini Gratin - vegan and dairy-free
Zucchini gratin gets a make-over. Gluten-free and dairy-free.

TRUTH. With a capital T.

On the way to saving your life there are moments that stir up a thousand kinds of trouble. Denial. Anger. Grief. Desire. The last one is the trouble I hear about the most here on Gluten-Free Goddess. The slow burn of longing. Comments and letters asking, sometimes pleading, pining, always hungry for some beloved recipe one can no longer consume. Due to evil gluten. Food is an emotional issue. Charged with hot spots and invisible buttons that can be pushed and engaged by a myriad of things. A scent. A circumstance. A holiday. Food can equal love. Evoke comfort. Mom. Or lack of Mom. Food can feel like self care and nourishment. But it can also be a fence. A barrier erected to survive. A way to numb. Escape. Live three feet from yourself.

Because some days it's hard to be a human being.

Sometimes I get tired of blogging about food. Sharing recipes. Because in all transparency, I don't feel like a foodie. I don't build my day around a meal or shopping for ingredients. Food is fuel. And often (in my house) food is an after thought. As in, Sweet Tap Dancing Bodhisattva, I'm starving. It's six PM. And I have nothing in the fridge except a jar of organic peanut butter.

And lettuce.

The un-foodie truth is, I sometimes resent the fact that I have to stop what I am doing and eat. It interrupts my flow. My doing flow. My thinking flow. My reading flow. Cooking takes time. And energy. And a certain level of focus (if one wishes to avoid burning the last clove of garlic, anyway). Cooking takes planning. One has to remember to physically get to the market now and then (which requires driving, another activity preferably avoided, right up there with drafting grocery lists). Avoiding said planning, one can far too easily find oneself without a scrap of dark chocolate in the house.

Chocolate may be the primary reason I get to the grocery store at all.

Before I discovered I had celiac disease, I ate simply. I was a vegetarian. Food was no big whup. As long as I had a bag of brown rice in the pantry, I was golden. I stir-fried veggies. I bought French baguettes daily. I baked the occasional chocolate chip brownie. But I wasn't hyper-focused on every single morsel that went into my mouth. I was loose and free, and true, I cooked. But food was more of a natural expression of my life as an artist and a mother. Cooking was as organic as breathing, a creative thing that didn't require surgical precision. I cooked simple, down to earth food. The kids grew up well fed and acquainted with pasta and fresh basil, olive oil, pumpkin soup. And real mac and cheese. Today both sons are amazing, intuitive cooks.

But when celiac disease made its appearance (in vivid ways you don't want to know about, Sweetpea) it complicated everything. Spontaneity (my favorite trait) atrophied. My easy going relationship with food morphed into an anxious love-hate alliance. Yes, I rolled up my can-do sleeves and problem solved. I did. I was a good sport. I tackled gluten-free head on. And I've been churning out gluten-free recipes for ten years. And dairy-free for four five years. I'm no slacker. But.

Some days?

I wish I was "normal". As in, I wish I could grab a crusty bakery baguette and a salty wedge of Parmigiano Reggiano for dinner. Like I used to. When making art was romantic and love was new.

Wishful thinking.

Which gets me nowhere.

Except back to the place I started.


Fresh basil and zucchini beckon. Make a gratin.

A Craving

Yesterday I craved an easy old favorite. Zucchini gratin. You know the one. Classic Italian comfort food, hot from the oven, bubbling with pan-tossed zucchini and garlic in a creamy cheesy sauce topped with Italian herbed bread crumbs. Zucchini gratin is the perfect marriage of tenderness and flavor. Melted gooey cheese and toasty crumbs. Gluten-free and dairy-free. Wait. What? Seriously?

Yes, Darling. A gratin to love. Even if you aren't a foodie and need to avoid gluten and dairy like the plague, doesn't mean you have to give up a lovely, cheesy, comforting gratin.

It just means you have to plan a little.

And make a list.

And shop.

And cook.

And then. You can eat.

And smile.

Because it's so freakin' tap-dancing good.

Zucchini Gratin
Tender zucchini and creamy vegan cheese topped with g-free crumbs.

Karina's Gluten-Free Zucchini Gratin Recipe

Recipe posted September 2011 by Karina Allrich.

Zucchini gratin is an easy home cooked side dish that will entice even veggie avoiders to indulge. If you don't need to be dairy-free, use milk and shredded mozzarella cheese.


1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, as needed
4 medium zucchini, trimmed and sliced
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
Sea salt, to taste
2 organic free range eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk or milk
3 tablespoons fresh chopped basil leaves
1 cup gluten-free bread crumbs
2 tablespoons almond meal
2 teaspoons dried Italian herbs
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 cup shredded vegan cheese or mozzarella
Fresh chopped Italian parsley, for serving


Preheat oven to 375ºF.

Lightly oil an 8-inch square baking dish or two 8-inch oval gratin dishes. Set aside.

Heat a splash of olive oil in a large skillet, using medium-high heat, and add the zucchini slices and garlic. Season with sea salt. Shake and toss the zucchini to cook lightly- just until tender-crisp.

Spoon the zucchini into the baking/gratin dish.

Sprinkle with fresh chopped basil leaves.

In a large measuring cup, beat the eggs with a fork. Add in the soy milk and beat till combined.

Pour the egg mixture over the zucchini. Top with most of the vegan cheese.

In a small mixing bowl toss the gluten-free bread crumbs with the almond meal, dried Italian herbs, and one tablespoon olive oil.

Spoon the oiled bread crumbs on top.

Sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Loosely tent the gratin with a piece of foil.

Bake in the center of the oven for 20 minutes or so, until hot and bubbling. Remove the foil and cook for another 5 minutes if the top needs needs browning.

Serves 4.

 photo Print-Recipe.png

Recipe Source: glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com

All images & content are copyright protected, all rights reserved. Please do not use our images or content without prior permission. Thank you. 

Zucchini gratin yum- with vegan "mozzarella".

GFG Notes:

To make your own gluten-free bread crumbs (highly, highly recommended), use two toasted plain waffles or two slices of your favorite gluten-free bread, processed into crumbs.

If you are avoiding nuts, replace the almond meal with more GF bread crumbs.

To replace the eggs, thicken the sauce with gluten-free flour: Add a tablespoon of olive oil to a saucepan. Add two tablespoons sweet rice flour; whisk to combine. Cook for a minute. Add the soy milk, stirring to warm through and thicken. Pour over the zucchini slices.
If you prefer to use dairy based cheese, I think goat cheese or good Parmesan would be lovely, as would fresh mozzarella.

More gluten-free gratin recipes:

Andrea Meyers - Zucchini Tomato Gratin
Karina's Pesto Zucchini Tomato Gratin
Pinch My Salt - Zucchini and Tomato Gratin
Kalyn's Kitchen - Zucchini Bake with Feta and Thyme

xox Karina


Mariposa said...

I hear you, Karina, loud and clear!!!!!!!

Cindy said...

What a delicious use of those abundant garden zucchini. Thank you!

beastmomma said...

I love your story and the recipe is enticing. Does the gratin freeze well?

Chalydra said...

I will have to try this recipe sometime when I have time. I just discovered Daiya "cheese" as well, simply amazing. I can relate fully to the desire. The desire for things to be simple again, to be able to be spontaneous, to not look at ingredients. I really resent cooking and the length of time it takes. I also resent dishes, but that's another matter. I cook now because I know how much it physically hurts not too. I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one who gets filled with desire for how simple things used to be.

Paulette Insall said...

oh my goodness do i SO hear ya on that one! feel the same way! glad to know i'm not alone. :)

Jeanette said...

What a beautiful gratin! There are definitely days I don't feel like cooking, but eating out gluten-free is still pretty difficult for my son, so I keep plugging away. Fortunately, I've gotten over the initial intimidation factor and learned that it's not that difficult, thanks to inspiring blogs like yours.

Kalyn said...

Looks so delicious! And I'm thinking zucchini here too; we're on the same wavelength.

Jeanette said...

What a beautiful gratin! There are definitely days I don't feel like cooking, but eating out gluten-free with my son is still pretty difficult these days, so I just plug along. Fortunately, I've learned that cooking gluten-free is really not that difficult, thanks to inspiring blogs like yours.

Anonymous said...

I like how damned easy you make it sound. I have been in a slump lately about dinner, I just dread and resent it...wishing I could just throw back a few almonds and some grapes and call it a day. But this looks inspiring, thanks.

Anonymous said...

Could you sub that Ener-G stuff for the eggs in this recipe?

carrie murphy said...

great post. this looks amazing! i just bought 4 zucchini and i'm going to try ASAP.


gluten free gift said...

Karina - I only discovered your blog in the last month... what a gift! I have been on this diet for over 40 years - and still have days where I feel what you described in this post. Luckily, I've found other creative outlets to focus on too. I hope that you will swing by my new blog (which does not focus on cooking) - I've just drafted a post that highlights yours (I'll send you a link once it's posted).
I'm thrilled to have found you - mille grazie. Claudine

Shirley @ gfe said...

Oh, Karina, your posts always seem to be so perfectly timed. I've been thinking the same sort of thoughts of late and thinking they really weren't very foodie/food bloggerish. ;-) I still haven't gotten my cooking/baking mojo back after the heat of summer and I feel rather badly about it. When I heard that the weather will turn cool this weekend, I smiled thinking that might do the trick. It's comforting to know that even someone like you deals with the issues of not wanting to cook, missing the spontaneity, and more. Oh, and the zucchini gratin? Gorgeous of course. Even though my thoughts are turning to pumpkins and apples, I'm not done with zucchini yet!


Alta said...

I totally agree with you on needing those days when you want to be easy and not have to think about dinner...while I love to cook, I also crave those days! And this dish reminds me that it's been a month or two since I've had some Daiya or any cheesy substitute for that matter. While zucchini is still everywhere, I think it's time I grab some again.

Caneel said...

Oh, yes. I want some of this. Now. Thanks for the recipe!

Junia said...

i love the veggie gratin idea :). i might try replacing the eggs with flaxseed!

homeschoolmama said...

Oh! Thank you so very much! My mom sent over a few zucchini the other day. The big one became primavera-sauce, but I was just looking for something wonderful for the three small beauties on my counter! This looks... heavenly!

The InTolerant Chef said...

As a chef, the guilt is even worse,I know just what you mean! Lovely recipe, and lovely story too.

Erin said...

Well written. I had no idea food came with so many emotions until Celiac disease was diagnosed in our family. What a roller coaster.

Tabitha said...

Yum!!! Definitely trying this next.

Anonymous said...

I love your honesty and transparency!! You express what I'm sure we all feel. I can relate to you completely. Will certainly try this recipe. Thanks so much for all you do!

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

That gratin is jumping right off the screen! If I were anywhere near a market today, I'd grab up the ingredients for this.

Anonymous said...

looks amazing. I'm going to make this today! do you have a potatoe gratin recipe as well?

Danielle said...

Karina - you are so right about food being an after thought, as this is how I used to be. Antipasto and a good loaf of italian bread was all I needed for dinner...it was easy. Now I feel like every waking moment all I think about it food, what am I going to eat next...do I have to bake, or am I going to be lazy and how much do I have to spend? Thank you for making recipes and life so much easier! You are truly my go to girl for nearly everything I bake/cook - you are truly a goddess in the kitchen and I have NEVER had a recipe of yours EVER FAIL! Thank you for all you do and share with us every day on your journey! Thank you for making life simple again!!

Anonymous said...

I want to eat this NOW!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I get what you mean--my husband eats mostly gluten-free at home, but sometimes he'll go out and buy a baguette or something as a "treat". The other day he bought fresh, hot, piping naan from an Indian restaurant near the office. That was pure torture!!! Some days I wish I could chuck the whole gluten-free diet and eat normal again. Then I remember the diarrhea, the bloating, the gas, and the cramps. No thank you, not interested!!! So I make do. And I allow my hubby his "treat". Because you have to take care of those you love, including you.

Faythe said...

I love zucchini, and have never thought of preparing it like this. It looks absolutely delicious.

Lisa in Indianapolis, IN said...

Karina, thank you for your personal and very revealing comments. Wow. I completely understand and agree with everything you said and the emotions. I discovered your blog last month and am trying to incorporate gluten-free into my nutrition plan because I've discovered that gluten is the naughty ingredient that is affecting my new arthritis in my fingers. I swear, everytime I have bread (I love sandwiches) or cereal, etc., I pay for it and there's no denying the culprit is gluten. Drat. I also have the challenge of eating to keep my Type II diabetes in check (it is not). I come from a family where we love to eat and I've been a "foodie" the last 15 years. I have more than 50 cookbooks which I love to read, along with my cooking mags. And try new recipes. I fully understand your comment about how going gluten-free is taking the fun out and making daily decisions different. It's a challenge to accept this new way of life, especially given my passion for cooking and also my career in the food industry. I will save your comment today as an inspiration. And I thank you so much for your willingness to share your feelings and wisdom. I hope you are feeling great and your day is terrific. Lisa in Indianapolis

Diane in Colorado said...

Wow, whatever words you write,Karina, it is as though you are doing a Roberta Flack. It is as if I wrote what you say. Thank you for helping me hear and see myself better! Also to give me the courage to be better, especially when I just...want...crusty...italian...bread! And real butter.

Amber said...

Hello There Karina~

I've been following your blog for a long time and I have to say, I nearly fell out of my chair when you said you didn't consider yourself a foodie! But after reading your definition of a foodie, I hear where you are coming from. Foodie or not, your blog beats strong with a passionate heart and colorful soul and is a reflection of what I interpret as a deep love for food (but alas the burden of having to cook is an honest burden). Your blog has been such an inspiration to me...especially during my dark days of alternative cooking where I just didn't have one shred of interest or motivation to cook another meal to save my life (see here): http://www.thetastyalternative.com/p/whats-in-name.html

Gluten Free Goddess and the countless other alternative bloggers are beacons of hope lighting the way to inspiration; reminding us to continue on, turn on the oven and feed the ones we love. Moreover, reminding us that we aren't alone in our alternative style of cuisine; we aren't alone with our diseases, our intolerances and our allergies.

I say thank you, to you Karina, from the bottom of my heart for your blog and your inspirational meals. As a stay-at-home mommy of two I cook every single day and there are times when I still feel the burn (like, okay people, my momentum is totally running out).

I made your zucchini gratin tonight...it was delightful and reminded me so much of the traditional dishes my Gramie made when I was a child. Thank you and please know that you are inspiring some poor ole' tired gal out there to continue on and keep cooken'.

Warmly, --Amber

Anonymous said...

Amen sister - I am right there with you! Thank you for your heartfelt honesty. I too miss the spontaneity of food - sigh... I miss the days of having an immune system & digestive system that were, ahem - a bit more cooperative.


Anonymous said...

Straight to the heart, Karina --- I was hooked at "On the way to saving your life...". As a 30+ year vegetarian who learned five years ago that health and wellbeing meant no more dairy, eggs, corn, gluten, or millet (millet?? was I sensitized to bird seed as a kid?), I've loved your perspective and wisdom and recipes since discovering you a couple years ago. The zucchini gratin, the pumpkin soup (and countless others of your soups), the pseudo-Irish soda bread, the pumpkin muffins, the many salads have indeed helped save my life by keeping me from both pain and despair. Thank you, thank you, and thank you.

Marcia said...

I just found this website and Karina's blog. You are a great writer. You are expressing exactly how I have been feeling for a long time. I will try the Zucchini Gratin. It looks like it would be delicious. Keep up the good work.

Kathleen Richardson said...

Karina ~ You have a way with words! And with food. Thank you for being there, even for those of us who are not on a gluten-free diet.

kimberly said...

I had zucchini in the fridge when I saw this- was perfect with grilled tuna tonight for dinner. I followed your lead exactly except I used almond milk vs. soy, and real Parmesan. Oh- and my go to GF bread crumbs are crushed rice chex. Almond meal is a fantastic addition- loved it!!! Hubby was happy too! Thank you so much for your great ideas!!!

Warm n Wonderful said...

I've not heard of almond meal before. Is it the same as ground almonds?

Karina Allrich said...

Thank you all- so much- for your generous comments. You inspire me. xox

And yes, almond meal is aka almond flour, finely ground almonds.

xox Karina

Sarah said...

I am inspired every single time I visit your gorgeous blog. I love, love, love the photos because I can drool over them and I can actually eat the food! Thank you. Your writing is delicious and now, even though I am full, I want that Zucchini Gratin in a big way : )

jessicalexica said...

Thanks so much for the honesty. I cried while reading this as I saw my heart lay bare before me. I never realized the emotional effect of food until I was diagnosed with Celiac! Thanks for sharing the way you do. I love making your recipes and enjoying them.

Anita Avalos said...

Karina, I can't wait to try this. :) I wondering how some local goat cheese might taste in there?

Karina Allrich said...

Anita- Absolutely- fresh goat cheese would be divine. I've added dairy alternatives to the recipe notes. Thanks! Karina

MissyMichelleee said...

I've been eyeing this recipe since the day it was posted- and finally today I made it! YUM!! I agree with everything that was said on this post- about just wanting the simplicity, the normalcy... just... to eat what I want! I have been in a real funk too, and this recipe made me feel normal! My gut even made a slight noise when I looked at the yummy, cheesy deliciousness, except I knew it was dairy free and gluten free and my tummy was satisfied.

I made a few exceptions:
I never measure and I used the eggless version, which turned out wonderfully. I wonder if soft tofu could be used to substitute and would therefore add some more protein and such to make it more of a main dish?
I sliced up some pretty orange, red, and maroon coloured cherry tomatoes and layered that before the breadcrumbs. Yum yummm!!
I also added some sweet onions to the zucchini mixture... because I just can't seem to make anything without onions too!

Thank you Karina!! <3

Ashley said...

So happy to find your blog as I'm now attempting to eat meat, wheat and (mostly) dairy free!!!! Can't wait to try this one :)

Deborah said...

This looks and sound so so good ... and I am salivating ... Thank you !!! Thank you !!! Thank you !!! for your piercing honesty ... makes the offering so much sweeter :)

Dee/reddirtramblings said...

Oh my word, this looks so good. Thank you for saying what needs to be said. I also didn't think much about food, but oh the longing for dairy sometimes makes my heart ache. I try not to think about it much. Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Dearest Karina,
I am not gluten sensitive and I haven't really tried your reciepes, although they look delicious. I just love your writing. And I totally agree with being so past thinking up meals.
Thank you for taking the time to help so many people. I can't imagine how scary it is to find out you can never eat the things you love again. What a huge challenge you have faced down.
Blessings to you and your followers!!!

JJF said...

I completely relate to the psychological aspect of living on a restricted diet. It is doable, but definitely is a burden and so hard for those who don't have to live that way to understand and support. I am struggling with that lack of support and understanding from my extended family. But, thanks for your perceptiveness and yummy recipes! Hoping to try this soon.

daiseyjayne said...

I love zucchini and will give this recipe a try, it looks so good!

Philippa said...

This looks absolutely delicious. Our neighbours gave us some beautiful courgettes (zucchinis) fresh from their garden the other day, so guess what's for dinner tonight!

Lynne L. said...

I can't believe you sent this today. I have been feeling down & deprived for a few days now...wishing I could just grab a piece of hubby's baguette or have a "real" sandwich (even knowing I'll be curled up in a ball if I do).
This recipe is pure comfort food...tysm. I am not vegan & there is a fantastic LF Gouda made in Quebec that I usually get from Costco. I recently found aged LF Parm, also made in Quebec, that has me in love. I'm lucky I can have Casein. I also have Daiya.
We all have to do what we have to do, but every now & then we're allowed to get the blues.
Now if I can only find some LF Blue Cheese....
Big Hugs.

beastmomma said...

I finally had a chance to make this and it was fantastic!

Jaime W said...

I have 2 batches of this in the oven now!! Do you think these would freeze well? Should I cook it first then freeze this?? Thank you so much for all your wonderful recipes! :)

GJ said...

Thank you so much for your website, it's been a great help to me. I have a question about the almond milk, can I use canned almond milk instead of the packaged soy or almond milk? I have a problem with gar gum as well as the other additives in the boxed stuff, along with soy and rice. Thanks.

peter metcalf said...

I have a combo blender/boiler for making non-dairy milks. I would give it to you if you like. It uses a very fine sieve, which is troublesome to clean. Otherwise, it seems a good idea. Makes about a quart at a time. I make my own oat milk, which is good tasting and as thin or thick as you like it by blending it. For almond, you would might need a high RPM blender (eg., Vitamix) unless you soaked them and boiled them - don't know how boiling affects almonds though. You can always just buy almond butter and swish it in the blender...add whatever you like for flavors.

peter metcalf said...

Great writing, which I enjoyed again today. Thank you. I may try the vegan version some day. I like the energy of your husband's new website too.

GJ said...

Peter, how do you make Oat milk? Do you mind sharing? Thanks.

GJ said...

...oh btw, there's an easy way to make almond milk on "instructables dot com" called "How to Milk an Almond", quite simple to do and there's a bunch of almond meal left over to toast and use.

hope it's OK to include this info.

peter metcalf said...

Oat Milk - The long answer: I overcook oats in my double boiling pressure cooker (so they don't burn). This is how I cook all my grains and rice. Put a steel mixing bowl in the pressure cooker, add less water than usual to the bowl, and about a half inch - couple cm water to the pot. Cook at high pressure for 15 minutes and the oats will be done. Anything in the pot is sterilized during the pressure cooking, and I believe minimal air and virus or bacteria enter when the pot cools, so I leave it on the stove all day or night if I don't have time to tend to it. Dump the oats into a blender and blend it up. I add a little cumin. Ginger is OK too - I eat it sliced, unpeeled (for convenience), and cooked in my grains and beans as an anti-inflammatory. Add however much water you like in smaller or larger amounts - depends on the efficiency of your blender. Let it blend until it is smooooth. I generally make too much, so it is concentrated when I put it in a big big bottle in the fridge with a ladle hanging over the mouth. If I want it thinner on my food, it mixes easily with a spoon. I would not drink it plain, for the same reason I generally avoid GF sour dough bread - whopping sugar release during digestion owing to the oats being all blended up rather than whole. So, I use it in smaller quantities on my oatmeal or if I eat (sugared/fatted) granola, or ? It leavens excellently, again, this is for the rare pancake (owing to lack of whole grain, as in wheat berries or oat berries/groats, whole rice, etc.)

peter metcalf said...

Book Recommendation: "The China Study." Based on the author's research as a nutritional scientist planning and managing major nutritional studies and experiments, including the largest of its kind, in China, he advocates a "whole plant diet," not for reasons of compassion for creatures (the vegan lifestyle), but compassion for people. The evidence is striking, as is his personal experience with the politics of the meat and dairy industries. Well cited with his and other scientists' peer reviewed research, but written for lay people.

GJ said...

Thanks Peter! I'll give it a try.

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