This is the first year in a long time that my garden has actually produced a decent amount of zucchini. I know it grows like a weed for everyone else. But my zucchini (and tomatoes) tend to get mildew or a fungus or some other malady before they produce much. I live less than a mile from the coast in southern California, and there's a lot of damp gray in our summer. Tomatoes and zucchini need more sun than my Santa Monica backyard gets.
This year, though, laziness worked in my favor. I didn't have time to plant anything until mid-May. Which means my zucchini only had to suffer through a few weeks of "June Gloom" (a bona fide season in the Los Angeles area) instead of a few months. And now they're huge and doing what zucchini plants do best: zucchini overload.
I've been making a lot of zucchini muffins, but the other night I threw together a quick gratin, which was just spectacular. If I didn't live with a bunch of zucchini-hating meat-eaters I'd have served this for dinner on its own. As it was, I ate this and they ate steak. We all got what we wanted.
I'm not one for fussing, but it's worth making your own fresh breadcrumbs for this dish. Sacrifice a baguette to your food processor. You won't be sorry.
Zucchini, cheese, breadcrumbs and heat: the world's simplest summer side dish.
- 1 pound zucchini
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 cups fresh breadcrumbs (from 1/2 day-old baguette or other white bread)
- 2-3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- approximately 1/2 tsp garlic salt
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
Spray a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.Trim the ends of the zucchini and then slice them thinly. A mandoline works best for this, but if you're careful you can do it with a sharp knife.Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the breadcrumbs and toast until golden brown, stirring often. Do not let the breadcrumbs burn. Now start layering the gratin: Put a layer of zucchini slices in the bottom of the baking dish. Sprinkle over some mozzarella and a little garlic salt. Add a sprinkling of breadcrumbs. Now go back to the beginning, starting with the zucchini. Keep building layers in this way until you have used up all the ingredients, ending with the breadcrumbs - you should get about four layers. Sprinkle the grated parmesan cheese over the very top. Bake the gratin about 45 minutes, until the zucchini is cooked and starting to brown around the edges of the pan and the cheese is bubbly and browning on top. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.
DetailsPrep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 8 servings