I have such a complicated relationship with zucchini. Each year, I say I will buy only one plant for the garden but then invariably, I worry that only one will not be enough so I plant two. Well you know how that goes. By this point in summer, this abundant veggie causes me to audibly sigh as I realize just HOW many zucchini are hiding underneath its leafy canopy. Lord knows we all have found that monster zucchini that we somehow missed in the weeks prior only to discover it has grown to over a foot in length. Zucchini fatigue is a real thing. Trust me.
We try sautéing it, spiralizing it, baking it but still it persists. So in an effort to relieve my zucchini fatigue, I poured myself a nice, crisp glass of vino, pulled out my stack of Italian cooking magazines and settled in to find a bit of zucchini inspiration, Italian style.
I spotted a brilliant recipe that combines one of my very favorite Italian preparations – the sformato – with zucchini. Mozzarella and Parmesan baked together with the zucchini to form a cheesy casserole dish. Yum. Match made in heaven. Minimum prep. Minimum effort. Maximum tastiness.
Pizza or flatbread on the grill is also a fave for us. In this version, everything is cooked on the grill and takes minutes once things are prepped. I topped with some creamy lemon-spiked ricotta and let the whole thing warm on the grill to slightly melt the ricotta.
So with zucchini season in full swing, go grab a few from the garden and let Italy inspire you to use a few of these wonderful summer treats. You will fall in love with zucchini all over again.
Happy summer! Buona estate!
An easy summer casserole to use up all that zucchini! Zucchini and cheese. Enough said.
- 6 sundried tomatoes (not packed in oil)
- 4 medium zucchini
- Olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- ¼ cup water
- 3 eggs
- ½ pound mozzarella, diced
- 3 tablespoons Parmesan, plus additional
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Soak the sundried tomatoes in boiling water for about 15 minutes to soften.
- Wash the zucchini. Trim the ends off the zucchini. Cut 3 of the zucchini in half lengthwise and then into ½ inch rounds. Cut the last zucchini in half and then cut each half lengthwise. Cut each piece into long matchsticks. Reserve. (You will use these to top the zucchini sformato.)
- Drizzle a bit of olive oil in a large pot and sauté the onion until soft and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add in the sliced zucchini and ¼ cup water. Cover and cook until soft, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Drain the sundried tomatoes. Dice.
- In a large bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Add in the mozzarella, sundried tomatoes and 3 tablespoons Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper.
- Roughly chop the cooked zucchini and add to the egg mixture.
- Lightly oil a small baking dish. Pour the mixture into the dish. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and some Parmesan.
- Tuck the remaining zucchini sticks in the top of the batter. (You may have some remaining, which can be reserved for another use.) Drizzle with a little olive oil and more Parmesan. Place in the oven and cook until top is browned, about 40 minutes.
An easy recipe to use up all that zucchini from the garden!
- 2 medium zucchini
- 2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 lemon, halved
- 1 cup whole milk ricotta (fresh if possible)
- About 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- Grated Parmesan or Pecorino
- 1 pound prepared pizza dough
- Trim ends of zucchini and slice into ¼ inch slices lengthwise.
- In separate bowls, toss the zucchini and tomatoes with a few drizzles of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
- Prepare a grill and lightly oil the grill grates. Grill the zucchini slices, turning often until tender and slightly charred, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
- Grill lemon halves, cut side down until slightly charred. Set aside.
- Mix ricotta with the basil and juice from one half of grilled lemon.
- Prepare the flatbread dough: Divide the pizza dough in half. Gently shape each piece into a rectangle or free form shape. Transfer to a lightly oiled baking sheet.
- Grill the dough over direct heat until first side is stiff and just lightly charred, about 1 minute. Turn and cook other side. Transfer to a clean baking sheet. Top each pizzetta with some of the zucchini and tomatoes. Top with dollops of the ricotta. Sprinkle with Parmesan.
- Place the pizzettas back on the grill (indirect heat if possible). Close the grill and allow to cook until the ricotta is warmed and crust is crispy.
- To serve, place on a platter. Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil, juice from remaining lemon half, a dusting of Parmesan and a sprinkle of basil leaves.