Baked Zucchini Parmigiana
Every year I grow zucchini and tomatoes in the vegetable garden. And every year we have more than we can eat and share with friends, family and neighbors. Zucchini grows like crazy, and it can be hard to come up with ways to use it. This baked zucchini parmigiana is a great way to use up some of those summer squashes and fresh tomatoes. This baked zucchini recipe is a lot like lasagna, minus the pasta. It's a great casserole to make ahead and freeze.
6 medium zucchini
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
2 cups fresh, diced tomatoes - Roma or plum tomatoes are the best for this recipe, but any fresh tomato will do
1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces
2 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella - you can also use a combination of mozzarella and provolone
1/4 cup grated Parmigiana cheese
1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Wash the zucchini and trim off the ends.
- Slice the zucchini lengthwise in 1/4 inch slices.
- Lightly brush both sides of the zucchini with olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper. Arrange the zucchini slices in a single layer on baking sheets and bake for 25 minutes, until the edges start to brown.
- In the meantime, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a large skillet. Add the garlic and saute for two minutes, just until it starts to brown. Add the tomatoes and cook for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, until they have cooked down and the juices have reduced.
- Remove the tomatoes from the heat, stir in chopped basil, salt and pepper to taste.
- Lightly oil a 9-inch baking pan. Arrange a single layer of zucchini slices in the bottom of the pan. Spoon one-fourth of the tomato mixture onto the zucchini slices, covering the zucchini as evenly as possible. Top with one-fourth of the shredded mozzarella, sprinkle lightly with Parmigiana and Romano cheese. Repeat the layers three more times.
- At this point, you can refrigerate or freeze the casserole.
- Bake the unfrozen casserole for 30 minutes in a 400 degree oven until the cheese is bubbly and browned. Increase the baking time to 35 to 40 minutes if the casserole has been refrigerated. Frozen casseroles require approximately 60 minutes of baking time.
- Cool the casserole for 15 minutes before serving. This will help the slices keep their shape when served.
You can bake the casserole, let it cool completely and then freeze individual servings for lunches.
Make sure the casserole is hot in the center before serving if you are baking a frozen casserole. You may need to cover the casserole with foil to prevent it from burning on top.
If you don't have fresh tomatoes, a jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce or canned, crushed tomatoes will work just as well.
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