*In 2012 we started the zucchini project. This project aims to find different recipes and methods for cooking zucchini—one of the most over abundant crop in home gardens.*
Grey is one of those men. The kind that has to have meat at dinner time. It doesn’t really matter what kind:chicken, fish, beef, lamb, turkey..pretty much anything goes in our house…there just has to be some kind of meat on the table. When I try to sneak in a meatless meal there is usually a bit of resistance. “We’re having salad….and….” he usually replies. When I served this dish, which is totally vegetarian, I watched his face as he said absolutely nothing as I scooped up two big slices for us, and set the remainder of the casserole right on the table.
Grey went back for thirds….thirds! He usually feels apprehensive about going back for seconds. When I saw that, I knew this was a success. I personally wanted seconds myself…but I restrained ;). The homemade sauce has lots of fresh basil, Parmesan cheese, and black pepper. It uses about two medium zucchini that are sliced, breaded, fried, and used as a delicious crust.
Now before I go on about this dish, I have to admit I had a heck of a time in the kitchen making it! If you walked in mid zucchini frying our house looked like a disaster zone. I didn’t have enough counter space because I also was making butternut squash soup that night, so I was using our kitchen table (and the chairs!) as a place to bread the zucchini and assemble the casserole. Once I got the zucchini in the pan to fry,the house started getting pretty smoky…so I opened a window only to have the smoke detectors (that are still in our kitchen drawers) to all start going off at the same time. I was fanning the smoke out, running back to flip the zucchini, and sweeping up shredded mozzarella that I spilled only moments before.
I don’t anticipate you having the same hectic experience when making this (I was just having a day!) but there are a lot of steps involved, so it does take a while…but it is totally worth it! Enjoy this recipe 🙂
For the sauce:
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 medium tomatoes, cored and roughly chopped
1/3 cup white wine
½ cup chopped fresh basil
¼ cup water
¾ cup tomato sauce
for the zucchini:
2 medium to large zucchini
¾ cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
1/3 cup milk
2 cups panko breadcrumbs
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for sprinkling
1 clove of garlic, grated
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup olive oil for frying
1 ½ cups mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
To make the sauce: Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes and cook, stirring until the garlic is lightly golden, about 1 minutes. Add the tomatoes and 1 teaspoon of salt. Cook stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes begin to sizzle, about 5 minutes. Add the white wine and cook over medium heat, uncovered for about 3 minutes. Reduce the heat and add basil and ¼ cup water. Smash the tomatoes with the back of a spoon and simmer for about 25 minutes. Stir remaining basil and season with salt.
To prepare the zucchini: Trim the zucchini and halve crosswise, then slice length wise into 18 strips, about 1.4 in. thick. Put the flour in a shallow dish. Whisk the eggs and milk in another dish. In a third dish, combine the panko, Parmesan, garlic, ½ teaspoon of slt, and pepper to taste. Working in batches, dredge the zucchini in the flour and shake off the excess. Dip in the egg mixture, turning to coat; let the excess drip off, then dredge in the panko mixture, pressing to help it stick. Set aside.
Heat olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add the zucchini in a single layer and fry until golden brown, 2-3 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels; season with salt.
Lay 8 pieces of fried zucchini a few inches apart in a 9×13 in baking dish. Top each with a few tablespoons of the tomato sauce, then shredded mozzarella. Repeat the layering (zucchini, sauce, mozzarella. Finish by sprinkling Parmesan, fresh basil, and dried Italian seasoning over the top. Bake until heated trough, about 15 minutes.
Have a terrific tuesday 😉
Love, Grey & Brianna