Lovely zucchini. It hasn’t been long since we were all peering beneath your huge leaves, pushing them this way and that, not wanting to miss the zukes of proper proportions, so we would not be, a day or two later, harboring a giant – you know – a Zucchini of Unusual Size.
Very Fresh zucchinis are a vegetable of grace. Crisp, juicy, with a penchant for taking on the flavors that you offer them easily. Perfect for all kinds of international dishes. And I love eggplant parmesan. The idea struck me to make a switch from eggplant to zucchini for this classic dish a short time ago, when this season’s garden was in that abundant fall swing, and mix things up a bit by grilling the sliced zucchini to add that quintessential, slightly smoky flavor.
It’s a very simple recipe. Use the freshest, most quality ingredients you can, and you’ll put together a little masterpiece.
Grilled Zucchini Parmesan
Makes one lovely 9 X 11 pan.
Make the marinara first. As it’s simmering, prepare and grill your zucchini, and shred the cheeses.
Choose larger zucchini – or yellow squash – perhaps 6-8, perhaps several more. Off season as my part of the country is right now for those substantial garden zucchini dimensions, it truly depends on your market, as to quantity. You’ll ideally be making three layers of sliced grilled zukes for the dish, so eye your zucchini count accordingly. Wash and slice zucchini at an extreme angle, (all the better for layering – more coverage per slice!) place in large bowl, and drizzle in a little olive oil, salt, pepper, then toss, or rub with your hands – coating the slices. Grill on both sides until marked, browned, and slightly softened.
As many variations as our hearts desire: total – a good 2 – 2 1/2 cups. I used an organic mozzarella and a nice Asiago for this recipe. Shred and have ready!
And now for the sauce:
Smoked Paprika Roast Tomato and Basil Marinara
Fill your kitchen with the joyful fragrance of fresh basil and luscious roast tomatoes… (lacking time to roast the tomatoes for the marinara, substitute a great canned tomato – I like Muir Glen Organic Fire Roasted. Then add smoked paprika to season the sauce.)
Roast the tomatoes first:
best quality organic tomatoes (for this recipe, at least 6-8 large tomatoes, but making extra is always good)
- smoked paprika – mild, medium or hot – to your taste
- sea salt
- olive oil
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large baking dish, rub the tomatoes with oil, sprinkle with salt and smoked paprika. Roast at least 45 minutes, until the tomatoes have lusciously collapsed into themselves and the kitchen smells rich and heavenly. Cool, then pulse until a rough, liquidly chop is reached in a food processor or blender. Alternatively, pour tomatoes into a large bowl and use a sharp mezzaluna to chop.
2 tbsp. olive oil
5-6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 1/2 quarts of freshly roasted tomatoes (or 2 cans quality tomatoes)
- 1 packed cup fresh basil
- pinch or two crushed red chili pepper flakes
Heat oil in large sauce pot, medium high heat. Saute garlic and onion until translucent and beginning to brown. Reduce heat to medium low, add tomatoes, basil and crushed red chilies then simmer, stirring occasionally at least 20 minutes, until sauce has thickened.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Beginning with a thin layer of sauce in the 9 X 11 pan, next create a layer of slightly overlapping zucchini slices. Happily scatter 1/3 of the cheese. More sauce. Another layer of shingled zucchini. Cheese! Sauce! Zucchini! Sauce – then the final flourish of cheese.
Bake 35-40 minutes, until bubbly and golden. Let sit a few minutes before serving.