Alison's Lunch

oven-roasted zucchini cutlets, or deconstructed zucchini parmesan

oven-roasted zucchini cutlets, or deconstructed zucchini parmesan

This recipe is very loosely based on one for an eggplant parmesan in Cooks’ Illustrated (January 2004), but you don’t have to make the whole recipe—the zucchini slices are good just on their own (as pictured). You can dollop each slice with your favorite tomato sauce, though, if you like, to make a fun deconstructed zucchini parmesan. (I’ve included two very easy and yummy recipes for tomato sauce, below—one with fresh tomatoes, one with canned.)

It’s much more fun doing this recipe with another person—there’s quite a bit of dredging and drenching to do. You won’t be surprised to learn that I always make a double batch of this because it’s so yummy, and the cooked slices freeze well! I have to admit that my favorite way to eat these, other than hot, fresh and crispy right out of the oven, is in a sandwich with mayonnaise, thinly sliced red onion, and lots of lettuce.

3 or 4 large zucchinis, cut crosswise on a slant into ½” thick ovals
6-8 slices of bread (you know my preference: whole wheat sourdough)
½ to 1 cup fresh-grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup flour
3 eggs
sea salt or kosher salt and freshly-ground pepper
spray vegetable oil (or regular vegetable oil)

1. Put the zucchini slices into a large bowl and toss with a tablespoon of salt, then let sit for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours in a colander. Drain off the liquid in a colander, and rinse under water. Dry the slices between kitchen towels to remove as much liquid as possible.
2. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Grind bread slices in food processor to make fine, even crumbs. Transfer crumbs to a pie plate and if your parmesan isn’t grated very fine, grind it up with a few pulses, too. Add cheese, ¼ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper to the crumbs and mix together.
3. Combine flour and 1 teaspoon pepper in large ziplock bag; shake to combine.
4. Beat eggs in second pie plate.
5. Place 8 to 10 zucchini slices in bag with flour; seal bag and shake to coat zucchini. Remove zucchini slices, shaking off excess flour, dip in eggs, let excess egg run off, then coat evenly with bread crumb mixture; set breaded slices on wire racks on your counter. Repeat with remaining zucchini.
6. Put 2 heavy, rimmed baking sheets (preferably non-stick) in the oven and let them preheat for 10 minutes or so. Remove them one at a time from the oven, spray or brush thoroughly with vegetable oil, and load the zucchini on the sheets in a single layer. Bake until zucchini is well-browned and crisp, about 30 minutes, rotating baking sheets after 10 minutes, and flipping slices after 20 minutes.
7. While the zucchini bakes, if you’re going to serve the zucchini with tomato sauce, make the fast fresh tomato sauté or the marinara sauce. (You can make the marinara the day before, if you like. Just reheat before serving.)
8. Serve each person several slices of zucchini, overlapping slightly, on plates with little bowls of the tomato sauté. This is especially nice alongside a green salad.

fast fresh tomato sauté
This recipe is based on one from Vegetarian Suppers from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen.

3 cups of sliced, quartered, or diced tomatoes
1 shallot or ½ a small white onion, minced
1 large garlic clove, minced
small handful basil leaves, slivered, or 1 teaspoon thyme, minced (whatever fresh herbs you have hanging around, or growing in a pot on your deck—oregano, maybe?)
1 tablespoon olive oil
sea salt or kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
a drizzle of balsamic vinegar

1. Toss the tomatoes with the onion or shallot, garlic, herbs, olive oil, and a pinch of salt. You can let the mixture marinate for up to 2 hours or use it right away.
2. Just before you’re ready to eat, heat a skillet and when hot, add the tomatoes. Swirl the pan around to warm them through, add a few drops of balsamic vinegar and some pepper. They should just warm up and release their juices, not fall apart.

marinara sauce

4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
two 28 ounce cans whole tomatoes, or diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons dried oregano
sea salt or kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Coarsely chop the tomatoes if using whole ones.
2. Saute the garlic in the olive oil until fragrant (30 seconds or so). Add the tomatoes and cook the sauce until nicely thickened, about 30 minutes.
3. Crush the oregano between your palms as you sprinkle it into the pot. Stir to combine, and add salt and pepper to taste. If you want a smoother sauce, put some of the sauce into your blender, or use a hand-held immersion blender to puree some of the chunks out of the sauce.