In midsummer, food writers feel compelled to advise their readers on how to survive an imminent zucchini invasion. The topic generates a slew of photographs of amateur gardeners heaving their 20-pound wonders along with countless new or recycled recipes for zucchini bread, muffins and the like to cope with a bumper crop of these monster vegetables.
In contrast, the Italians eagerly anticipate the young squash’s first appearance in spring and seem to have no shortage of recipes at their fingertips for nurturing its true flavor throughout the summer. The problem with our bounty of zucchini is that these large specimens have lost their sweetness and distinctive taste, and we resign ourselves to eating them even when they have outgrown their welcome. No wonder we are drowning them in cake batter and compensating for their blandness with cinnamonand sugar. If we pick our zucchini sooner, in the prime of their youth, we’ll love them more and welcome their abundance. Then we could start out with these words instead: “Only once a year do we have a chance to eat the delicate little squashes of summer.” For if they are to live up to their name (zucca, “squash”; zucchini, “little squash”), they should be small, very small
Delicious Potato Lasagna
This is so delicious! Sorry my pictures aren’t so great here, I like to wait until nighttime to turn the oven on. If you’re growing zucchini (or any kind of summer squash) and tomatoes, I highly recommend this easy dish. My husband and I ate seconds and thirds.
This isn’t actually lasagna, there are no noodles, no tomato sauce or béchamel. This is so much easier than making a lasagna! It’s just sliced fresh vegetables, cheese and aromatics, including red potatoes, plum tomatoes, zucchini, mushrooms, garlic, shallots and fresh basil, parmesan and cheddar cheeses, and drizzled at the end with olive oil and white wine. The delicious “sauce” comes from the bubbling wine and aromatic ingredients.
To prevent the cheese from burning before all the veggies are cooked, cover the dish with parchment before baking. Twist the corners to get it to stay on, and cut a slit in the center to let the steam escape. I cook this until there’s no longer any bubbling liquid in the bottom of the dish.
Here is a word diagram of the layers in the casserole dish, I season with a little salt and pepper between layers. Butter the pan generously before adding vegetable slices:
Top layer: chopped shallots and grated cheeses
drizzle of olive oil and 3/4 cup white wine
sliced mushrooms (I used mini portabellas)
chopped garlic, basil, grated parmesan, & olive oil, salt and pepper (I call this the pesto layer)
sliced plum tomatoes
Bottom layer: peeled and sliced red potatoes, salt and pepper
buttered casserole dish
Once you have the layers assembled, before you put the cheese on top, press down on the whole thing gently with your hands. Add the rest of the chopped shallots and cheese. Cover with parchment with a vent cut into it. Bake at 375 for 35 minutes. Turn the oven down to 350 and bake an additional 15 minutes until most of the the liquid is absorbed. Yum!
- 10 minutes
- 1 hour
- 2 cups of day old cubed bread*
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 2 Tbsp pine nuts
- 1 very large zucchini (about 2 pounds), otherwise known as a baseball bat zucchini
- 1/4 cup prepared basil pesto
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 4 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into cubes
- A handful of cherry tomatoes, roughly chopped
*The bread should be a little dry, this way it will toast better. If you don’t have day old or slightly dry bread, cut up fresh bread and lay out on a baking sheet. Heat in a 200°F oven for 10 minutes.
1 In a medium skillet, melt butter on medium to medium high heat. Add the slightly dry cubed bread, toss to coat at least some of the sides in a little butter. Lay out in a single layer cook, without moving the croutons, until one side is lightly browned, then toss and let cook a little more so a few more sides get a little brown. Remove from pan and let cool to touch.
2 While the croutons are browning, heat a small skillet on high. Add the pine nuts and cook until they begin to brown (do not walk away, once they start browning they can easily go from brown to burnt!). When they start to brown, remove them from the pan into a small bowl.
3 Place the croutons and Mozzarella in a medium bowl. Toss with the pesto. Add the grated Parmesan, chopped cherry tomatoes, toasted pine nuts, and toss some more.4 Preheat the oven to 375°F. Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise. Scoop out the inner flesh with a metal spoon, leaving 1/4 to a 1/2-inch thickness in the zucchini boats.** Place the zucchini boats in a roasting pan. Sprinkle the inside of the boats with salt. Fill the boats with the stuffing mixture. Pour a cup or so of water into the bottom of the roasting pan (so that zucchini doesn’t dry out on the outside), to about 1/4 inch depth. Bake for 45 minutes at 375°F.
- 4 ounce(s) shredded sharp Cheddar
- 1 cup(s) shredded zucchini
- 1/2 cup(s) shredded carrot
- 1/4 cup(s) finely chopped red onion
- 1/4 cup(s) prepared salsa
- 1 tablespoon(s) chopped pickled jalapeño pepper
- 8 slice(s) whole-wheat bread
- Have four 15-ounce cans and a medium skillet (not nonstick) ready by the stove.
- Combine Cheddar, zucchini, carrot, onion, salsa and jalapeno (if using) in a medium bowl. Divide among 4 slices of bread and top with the remaining bread.
- Heat 1 teaspoon canola oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Place 2 panini in the pan. Place the medium skillet on top of the panini, then weigh it down with the cans. Cook the panini until golden on one side, about 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low, flip the panini, replace the top skillet and cans, and cook until the second side is golden, 1 to 3 minutes more. Repeat with another 1 teaspoon oil and the remaining panini.
- 6 tablespoons soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons white miso paste
- 2 pounds extra-firm tofu, rinsed, pressed between two plates to dry, and cut into thin squares
- About 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon ginger, minced
- 5 large zucchini, peeled into long thin strips with a vegetable peeler
- 2 large carrots, julienned
- 1 apple, peeled, cored, and cut into matchstick-sized slivers
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 2 teaspoons white sesame seeds
- Combine soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, and miso paste in a small bowl. Whisk until completely mixed.
- Bring a large pot of water to boil.
- Meanwhile, season both sides of the sliced tofu with salt and pepper. Heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a medium cast-iron skillet. Add tofu in batches and cook, undisturbed, for 4-5 minutes, until crispy and browned. Use tongs to flip the tofu and cook on the other side for an additional 4-5 minutes. Repeat with remaining tofu. Transfer to a paper towel and set aside.
- Add the ginger to the same pan and heat for about 30 seconds.
- Add the zucchini and carrots to the boiling water and blanch for about a minute. Transfer to a colander and rinse with cold water. Drain well.
- Transfer the blanched zucchini and carrots to a large bowl with the apple slivers. Toss with half of the miso dressing.
- Top with crispy tofu and sprinkle with the remaining dressing and the sesame seeds.
1. Saute it. Try Sauteed Zucchini with honey basil vinaigrette from Frugal Foodie Family.
2. Bake it. Your picky eaters will hardly know it’s there in The Ranting Chef’s Baked Ziti with Summer Veggies.
3. Stuff it. Zucchini are known as courgettes in England….