Two Years Ago: Spanish Shrimp
It's summer, which means fresh tomatoes and zucchini are everywhere. If you have a garden or made a recent trip to the farmer's market this is a perfect way to use some of them up. I recently made a similar recipe for zucchini roll-ups stuffed with ricotta and topped with a tomato sauce that was very good but pretty fussy and time-consuming so the idea of simply layering the zucchini, cheese and sauce was appealing.
The original recipe didn't have ricotta cheese, which made it a nice light side dish. Adding the ricotta makes it a satisfying vegetarian entree. It's your choice either way.
If you don't have a bunch of fresh tomatoes, you could always used good quality canned tomatoes. To make it even easier, you could buy a marinara sauce at the store.
First you thinly slice the zucchini, then bake until tender. Layer the zucchini, sauce, and ricotta mixture (if using) with Parmesan and bake. I wanted to use a pretty oval baking dish for the pictures, but couldn't quite figure out how to layer the rectangular zucchini slices in an oval dish. Next time I think I'll just bake more zucchini and overlap them every which way, if that makes sense.
This is not only healthy, but truly delicious.
For the tomato sauce:
2 to 2 ½ pounds fresh ripe tomatoes
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2-4 garlic cloves, to taste
Salt and pepper
1/8 teaspoon sugar
2 sprigs fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
For the zucchini parmesan:
2 to 2 ½ pounds zucchini
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 cup ricotta cheese
2 egg yolks
2 garlic cloves, grated
3-4 sprigs fresh basil
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Line 2 sheet pans with parchment. Trim ends off zucchini and cut in half crosswise, then cut into thin lengthwise slices about ¼ to 1/3” thick. Season both sides with salt and pepper and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Arrange zucchini slices on baking sheets in a single layer and sprinkle with red pepper flakes. Roast for 12-15 minutes until lightly browned and tender. Remove and let cool. Reduce oven to 375d.
While the zucchini cooks and cool, make the sauce: if you have a food mill, quarter the tomatoes. If not, peel, seed and chop them. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat and add onion. Cook, stirring often until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, salt, pepper, sugar and basil sprigs. Increase heat to medium-high. When tomatoes are bubbling briskly, stir and reduce heat to medium. Cook, stirring often, until tomatoes have cooked down and are beginning to stick to the pan, 15-25 minutes. Remove basil sprigs; taste and adjust seasonings. If using a food mill, put sauce through medium blade. If not, pulse sauce in a food processor until just coarsely pureed. Stir in chopped basil.
To assemble and bake: place the ricotta, egg yolks, grated garlic and basil in a small food processor and pulse to combine. Set aside. Oil a 2-quart dish with olive oil or nonstick spray. Spread ¼ cup tomato sauce over the bottom of the dish. Arrange a third of the zucchini slices in an even layer over the tomato sauce. Spoon a third of the remaining sauce over the zucchini and sprinkle with ¼ cup Parmesan. Repeat one additional layer, then spread the ricotta mixture evenly over the second layer. Add one more layer of zucchini, sauce and Parmesan. Drizzle on the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil.
Bake 30-35 minutes until bubbling and browned. Allow to stand for 5-10 minutes before serving.