Friday, August 4, 2017

Zucchini Parmesan

Last Year's Post:  Savory Kale and Corn Galette
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.

Zucchini Parmesan
Serves 6

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.  

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