Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Zucchini Parmigiana

We have been dripping in zucchini. Every spring I get lured into buying zucchini seeds. I think, "regardless of how the rest of my garden responds to me, at least I will have my zucchinis." I could literally chuck a zucchini seed into a pile of crappy dirt and a couple weeks later find a giant zucchini plant. 

Every year, when I pick my first ripe zucchini, I feel the pride of a thousand earth mamas and get inspired to make a jillion different zucchini recipes. 

Now, with at least ten zucchinis growing in the garden, seven ones waiting to be given to unsuspecting victims [friends], nine bags of grated zucchini frozen, and three zucchinis in the crisper drawer, I am a little tired of zucchini.

Here is an awesome recipe from when I was in the proud and inspired earth mama stage! 

Zucchini Parmigiana [All the lovin' of Eggplant Parmigiana but designed to make a dent in my never ending store of zucchini] 

Tomato Sauce
1 T olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
6 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup white wine
28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup water
1 T chopped fresh basil
1 T chopped fresh oregano

Rest of It
3 large zucchini sliced into 1/4 inch thick slices
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried oregano
4 eggs

Approximately a 1/2 cup of olive oil for pan frying

8 oz. shredded mozzarella
5 oz. grated parmesan cheese

Begin by making your tomato sauce. [Feel free to use jarred tomato sauce]. Saute onion, garlic, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes in the olive oil until the onions are translucent. 

Deglaze the pan with the white wine [red would be fine or two tablespoons of balsamic and a 1/3 of a cup of water].

Add the crushed tomatoes to the pot. Add approximately a 1/2 cup of water to the tomato can and swish it around to take all of the remaining tomatoes off of the walls of the can. Pour this tomato water into the pot. 

Simmer for at least 20 minutes. 

Right before using the sauce, add the fresh oregano and basil [dried would work fine as well but only use a teaspoon of each] and stir to combine.

While your sauce is simmering, begin preparing your zucchini for pan frying [for a healthier option, you can omit the pan frying...I think that the flour and egg used to encrust the zucchini allows the baked dish to be more cohesive].

Here is a visual example of the thickness of my zucchini slices.
 Form an assembly line with your zucchini slices, then a bowl with the four eggs, whisked well, followed by a bowl with a mixture of the flour, salt, garlic powder and oregano.

Preheat 3 to 4 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.

Quickly dip each zucchini slice into your flour mixture, making sure that a thin layer of the flour mixture coats both sides. Then quickly submerge your floured zucchini slice into the eggs then back into the flour mixture. The first dunk in the flour mixture ensures that the egg and the subsequent flour stick onto the zucchini.

Place your zucchini into the oil and fry lightly about 3 to 4 minutes a side or until your zucchini's "crust" has begun to turn golden brown.
 Once golden brown, remove and place on a paper towel lined plate until ready to assemble.

You will need to fry in batches. The number of batches depends on the size of your frying pan. Make sure that you add a couple tablespoons of oil into the pan before each new batch.

Once you have fried all of your zucchini, you can begin to assemble your zucchini parmigiana.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Coat the bottom of a large casserole dish with about a half cup of your tomato sauce. 

Cover the tomato sauce with a layer of fried zucchini slices.
Top the zucchini with another layer of tomato sauce [about 3/4 to a full cup] then approximately half of the mozzarella and parmesan.

 Finish with another layer of zucchini slices, another cup or so of tomato sauce and the remaining cheese.

Bake, covered with aluminum foil, for approximately 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake, uncovered, for another 15 minutes or until the sides are bubbling and the cheese has begun to turn golden brown.

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