Here’s a quick one. A recipe that requires only five ingredients…yes five and uses up all of that zucchini that you have either picked up at your local farmer’s market or out of your garden. Last week, I got a little overzealous and picked up a few too many zucchini, then my husband did the same. Talk about zucchini overload! You know the drill…you stare at it and try to figure out what to do with it. While sautéing it with other vegies is delicious or even baking a couple of loaves of zucchini bread, let’s face it, zucchini can get a little boring. So, I set out on the task of finding something else to do with it with two objectives in mind: uncomplicated and delicious.
What I came up with is a riff on eggplant parmesan. The Italian version is quite a bit lighter than the traditional American version which, to me, is essential in summer cooking. The main difference between the two is that the Italian version doesn’t bread and fry the the eggplant Instead, they only sauté them in a little olive oil.
The genius of this recipe is that the only real work is slicing the zucchini and assembling the ingredients into the casserole dish…10 to 15 minutes max.
When assembling the dish, I like to put a thin layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of the pan before putting in the first layer of zucchini. When you are building the layers, go light on the cheese and sauce since you will have multiple layers. I find that by having a balance of all of the ingredients you can actually taste the zucchini, not just the cheese and tomato sauce.
This is a great make ahead as it is just as good at room temperature, in fact, maybe better as the flavors have time to mingle together a bit. It is a great side dish or perfect for a light summer meal with a green salad, and some crusty bread to mop up the juices.
- 4 to 5 medium zucchini, sliced relatively thinly lengthwise
- ½ cup (50 grams) grated parmesan cheese, plus extra for the top
- 8 ounces (250 grams) fresh mozzarella
- 2 cups (450 grams) tomato sauce
- 1 to 2 Tablespoons breadcrumbs
- Wash and slice the zucchini lengthwise; either with a knife or mandolin (about an ⅛ to a ¼ inch in width)
- In an 8x8 inch (20x20 cm) oven proof baking dish, spoon a little of the tomato sauce on the bottom of the pan and make an even layer.
- Place a single layer of the zucchini slices down. If needed, you can cut slices to fit so you have a layer that covers the entire dish. For a pretty effect, keep the slices going all the same way.
- Next add a layers of the cheeses; tearing up the mozzarella and dotting it over the zucchini layer. You don't have to put too much since you will be creating several layers.
- Next add a layer of tomato sauce.
- Continue like this until you run out of ingredients; finish with a thin layer of tomato sauce.
- Sprinkle the top with 2 Tablespoons of breadcrumbs and grate some extra parmesan cheese over the top.
- Bake at 350 F (175 C) for approximately 30 minutes, If the top is getting too brown, loosely cover the dish with aluminium foil.
2. For the tomato sauce, I like to use a quick homemade version: 1 can of cherry or crushed tomatoes, ½ cup or so of tomato passata (uncooked tomato sauce), a pinch of sugar and salt, and 1 or 2 garlic cloves. I sauté the garlic cloves whole in some olive oil (that way I can fish them out later), the add the canned tomatoes, passata, sugar and salt and let it bubble for 10 or 15 minutes. You can also use your favorite store bought sauce as well. Whatever works for you.