Cretan Zucchini and Potato Gratin (Boureki)
Adapted from Maria Verivaki, Organically Cooked
Cretan-style Boureki is made of well-seasoned layers of potatoes, zucchini, and tomato. Boureki improves over time as its flavors meld and develop. This makes it a great dish for entertaining as it tastes better when made a day ahead (it’s also delicious shortly after it comes from the oven). Maria recommends freezing it uncooked. At the height of zucchini season, she prepares and freezes many pans of this specialty. On winter days when she’s busy or frazzled, Maria pops a frozen Boureki into the oven; a few hours later she has a delicious, effortless meal ready to serve her family. After baking Boureki, be sure and let it rest at least 15 minutes before cutting and serving.
2 cups ricotta cheese
2 cups feta cheese, crumbled
Freshly ground black pepper
2 large russet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
4 medium zucchini (about 2 pounds), thinly sliced
4-6 medium tomatoes, cut in 1/4” slices
1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp. minced mint
1/2 cup olive oil + 2 Tbsp.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly oil bottom and sides of 13” x 9” baking pan.
Mix together ricotta and feta. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and mix again.
Place potatoes in bowl. Add 2 Tbsp. olive oil; lightly season with salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly, separating any potato slices that stick together.
In prepared pan, layer 1/3 of potatoes. Lightly season potato layer with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Layer 1/3 of zucchini over potatoes. Lightly season zucchini layer with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Drizzle with 2 Tbsp. olive oil. Top with 1/3 of cheese mixture. Sprinkle with 3 Tbsp. minced mint. Repeat entire layering sequence 2 more times. Top with a layer of sliced tomatoes. Drizzle tomatoes with remaining 2 Tbsp. olive oil.
Cover pan tightly with aluminum foil. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove cover and bake for another 30-45 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Test for tenderness by poking a knife into the boureki’s center; if it slides in easily, the potatoes are done. Let sit for at least 15 minutes before serving; this allows bubbling juices to be reabsorbed by the potatoes and zucchini.
Boureki may be made a day or two ahead and reheated at 350°F for 15-20 minutes.