It’s a coincidence that it was National Zucchini Day when I tested this dish for Dinner Together.
Some like to call it National Leave a Zucchini on Your Neighbor’s Porch Day, but after you make this dish, you won’t be afraid to accept those monster squash.
This take on eggplant parmesan is easy, delicious and relies on seasonal abundance so it is easy on your grocery budget, too. It can easily feed a crowd. Add a green salad and bread for soaking up the marinara sauce.
The recipe calls for breading the eggplant slices with egg, flour and breadcrumbs, but I found that it works just as well to grill the zucchini slices before layering them. It’s an easy way to make this vegetarian dish gluten free if necessary.
The dish is also versatile. We used up some leftover pesto ricotta filling from lasagna night, spreading a layer between basil leaves and zucchini.
Let the casserole cool a bit after taking it from the oven, or your layers will slide all over the plate. Serve it too soon and you’ll have a hot – but delicious – mess.
Adapted from Family Circle, www.familycircle.com
1/2 cup flour
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups seasoned bread crumbs
3 large zucchini, about 2 pounds, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch thick slices
1/4 cup canola oil
1 jar (25 ounces) prepared marinara sauce (such as Muir Glen)
2 cups shredded reduced-fat mozzarella cheese
1 cup basil leaves
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Coat a 13-by-9-by-2-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
Place flour, eggs and bread crumbs in separate shallow bowls. Lightly coat zucchini slices with flour. Dip in egg and coat with bread crumbs. Set aside
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook zucchini 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per side until golden brown. Cook in three batches, adding more oil as needed.
Spoon 1/2 cup of sauce in the bottom of prepared baking dish. Evenly place a third of the zucchini in dish; top with 1/4 cup of sauce and 1/3 cup of mozzarella cheese. Repeat layering twice, adding basil between second and third layers.
Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over top and loosely cover with foil. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes, remove foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
Cool slightly before slicing. Serve with green salad if desired.
Yield: 8 servings