Vegetable Gratin with Rosemary and Pecorino

sunset in the fall in Umbria from Alla madonna del Piatto cooking school

It’s officially fall in Umbria. From the porcelain blue of the sky to the technicolor sunsets, to the thousand shades of green and the sprinkles of gold, you can just never have enough of all this  beauty.


It’s a time full of promise for us. In a month or so we will close the agriturismo for winter and finally enjoy a bit of time for ourselves after this busy and wonderful season.

It’s a time to collect ideas, make quiet walks  and, in a while, cuddle by the wood-stove.

old house at sunset in Italian village

I am delighted that it’s finally cool in the kitchen. From now on I can bake to my heart content, something that I would not even consider 2 weeks ago.

As you might know, I often suffer of bad cases of “procrastibaking“. When I have an attack, I must abandon whatever boring task I am attending – e.g.  administration – in favor of moving to the kitchen and whip up some bread or an impromptu sweet or savory bake.

For authentic procrastibaking, you need to use ingredients you already have in the house. That is not a problem as my house is always full of food and it would take me too much time to go shopping anyway.

This vegetable gratin is the result of one of my gastronomic escapades from the joys of bureaucracy. It’s simple and quick to assemble so it has become a standard vegetarian dinner in our house often in combination with a lentil or other vegetable soup.


  • 3-5 potatoes
  • 3 zucchini
  • 1 onion
  • 4 ripe salad tomatoes, diced or one 400 g (14 oz) canned diced San Marzano
  • 300 g (10 oz) mild cheese like mozzarella or provola or scamorza, sliced thinly
  • 4-5 tablespoon grated pecorino
  • leaves from 1 sprig rosemary, very finely chopped

Slice all vegetables very thinly, with a mandolin if possible. Toss zucchini and potato separately with olive oil and salt, before layering.

Preheat the oven to 180°C  (350° F).

Line a 30 x 22 cm (12 x 8 inch) roasting tin with parchment paper and drizzle with one teaspoon olive oil. Don’t skip the parchment paper as the gratin it’s difficult to remove from the pan and will break in pieces.

Spread the potatoes over the bottom in an even layer. Top with 1/4 of the sliced onion, the diced tomatoes, a sprinkle of chopped rosemary, black pepper, the mild cheese and the grated pecorino.

In this recipe I use Pecorino instead of parmigiano, however please note that the Umbrian pecorino di Norcia is milder than pecorino romano. If you only have access to pecorino romano, you might want to use half parmigiano and half romano to obtain the necessary balance of sweet and salty.

Spread ½ of the zucchini slices in an even layer, then top with 1/4 onion slices, tomato, balck pepper, rosemary, mild cheese and grated pecorino.

layered baked vegetables with cheese and tomato

Repeat with one additional layer of potato/onion/tomato/cheese then one layer of zucchini/onion/tomato/cheese and finish each one with rosemary and black pepper.

Top with one layer of potato and more grated pecorino and lightly drizzle with one-two teaspoon extra virgin olive oil.

baked vegetables Italian style gratin

Cover the dish with foil and bake for 40 minutes to 1 hour until the vegetables are tender and lightly brown on top. Let it stand 15 minutes and serve warm.


tomato pecorino zucchini vegetable tray bake for a vegetarian dinner

Serves 4

Vegetable gratin with Pecorino Cheese and Rosemary, Zucchini, Potato, Tomato





  1. Hi Letizia! I wonder if you remember me from Brad Vinson’s lab? Your life post-entomology sounds fantastic! My husband and I will definitely plan a visit to your B&B soon, now that our 3 kids are in college. The potato layered bake looks lovely!

    • Hi Heather, how wonderful to hear from you, of course I remember you! It would be lovely to see you again, please drop us a note if you plan to visit. My time as Texas A&M has become legendary and I still have great memories of it!

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