Tobin and I generally enjoy all the same foods, but when it comes to eggplant we are on opposite teams. He hates it- I looove it (especially in the form of eggplant parmesan). I’ve tried tricking him and sneaking eggplant into dishes where it’s well hidden, but he KNOWS. Just when I thought it was time to see a marriage counselor, I came up with a compromise: zucchini parm!! This dish satisfies my craving for “Melanzane alla Parmigiana” while simultaneously pleasing my hubby. YASSS! It’s also baked instead of fried, making it much lighter and easier to prep. I start by slicing zucchini lengthwise using a mandolin- you want pretty thin slices, so this tool is the best man for the job (just be REALLY careful), but you can also do this by hand. Once sliced, the squash is tossed in a simple mix of olive oil, oregano, pepper flakes, salt and pepper and then roasted in a hot oven until tender. That’s the hardest step!
Then, the whole dish is layered lasagna style with simple but high quality ingredients. Choose a really good jarred marinara (Rao’s is by far my favorite), or sub in homemade! Fresh mozzarella and herby goat cheese add creaminess. If you don’t like or don’t have goat cheese, a little dolloped ricotta would be nice! I had some leftover baguette croutons hanging out in the pantry when I was making this the other day, so popped a few in my food processor to make breadcrumbs for the topping. Mixed with Parmesan cheese and drizzled with olive oil, they made for the perfect, much needed crunchy element. If you have Panko breadcrumbs, that would work too! This can be assembled through the final layer of sauce (leave off the breadcrumbs until right before baking) up to a day ahead.
If you happen to have leftovers (unlikely because this is so tasty), they make for the most delicious sandwich the next day! Here are the deets: I took two ciabatta rolls, halved them and tore out some of the bready centers, then laid the halves cut side up on a sheet pan and drizzled them with a little EVOO. Next, I popped the bread under a broiler for 2 minutes until lightly toasted. I set the top halves aside and placed scoops of leftover zucchini parm on top of the bottom halves. Then I popped those back under the broiler for another 3-5 minutes, until the filling was hot (keep your eye on them- every broiler heats up differently). After taking the sandwiches out of the oven, I topped with some arugula, drizzled with more EVOO and good balsamic, sprinkled with coarse salt, and added a few pepperoncini slices! To finish, I popped the tops back on, pressed down lightly, sliced and served! Delish!
prep time: ~30 min. cook time: ~25 min. serves: 4
4 large zucchini squash, sliced lengthwise into 1/8” thick strips
extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried red pepper flakes
1-1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 cups jarred marinara sauce (such as Rao’s)
1/2 cup torn fresh basil leaves
8 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced thinly and torn into pieces
4 oz garlic and herb goat cheese
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup dried plain bread crumbs (or Panko breadcrumbs)
Preheat the oven to 450°. Toss the zucchini slices evenly with 2 tbsp of the olive oil, the oregano, pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Lay the zucchini slices out on two large parchment lined baking sheets in a single layer. Bake for 20 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through, or until the squash is lightly brown and tender. Reduce the oven temperature to 375°.
Spray a 9” square baking dish with cooking oil. Begin layering the dish by spreading 1/2 cup marinara in the bottom of the dish. Next, layer some of the zucchini on top, overlapping slightly and trimming to fit as needed. Next, scatter 1/3 of the mozzarella, 1/3 of the basil, and dollop 1/3 of the goat cheese evenly over the zucchini. Sprinkle 1 tbsp of Parmesan cheese on top. Repeat the layers- spread another 1/2 cup marinara on top, then add the second zucchini layer, and the second cheese layer, followed by more sauce. Finish with the remaining zucchini, the remaining cheese, and fourth and final layer of sauce. Combine the bread crumbs and remaining parmesan cheese in a small bowl and sprinkle the mixture over the top of the casserole. Drizzle a little olive oil over the breadcrumbs. Pop the dish in the oven to bake for 20-30 minutes, until it’s browned on top and bubbling. Let it stand 10 minutes before serving hot.