This baked dish combines shredded zucchini, flour, eggs and a bit of breadcrumbs and parmesan to create the perfect side dish or snack. The zucchini mixture is pressed into a baking dish and then topped with breadcrumbs that toast to give it a nice texture when it has finished baking.
The cornerstone of traditional Italian food is, believe it or not, in season produce. Italians eat la verdura – their greens – with each and every meal, from supermarkets, their own gardens, small grocers, or stands throughout their area. Food shopping, unlike here in America, is done daily, to ensure the freshest ingredients.
In America, schedules don’t quite allow for that kind of frequent preparation. But, my mom did ensure that we were stocked on fresh fruits and vegetables each week. On Sundays, often after church, we’d take a bit of a drive to visit a local farm, where my mom joked the cashiers must think she was trying to feed the town, as we bought bushels of apples, pears, zucchini, tomatoes, and every other fruit and vegetable you could imagine. “A mangiare fa bene”” my parents would tell me, “eating is good for you”. This was a time when the idea of clean eating had not quite caught on, but people from the Mediterranean had been using the nutrients from fruits and vegetables to maintain their health and cure ailments for centuries upon centuries. Very luckily, I was raised to understand that health truly is wealth, and that the cornerstone of “self-care” as we call it now was to eat in a way that nourishes your body and provides you with the nutrients that are often missing from prepared foods.
Weekday meals were full of vegetables, legumes and fish and this was a dish we ate very often as a contorno, a side, to the main course. I’ve always loved it and now, as a mom, it seems a sneaky and effective way to get my children to eat zucchini, a vegetable they’d normally turn their noses to. The breadcrumbs gives it texture, they can easily hold it in their hands, and its soft enough that they have been able to eat it since they started solid foods. I hope your family enjoys this dish as much as our family does!
Zucchine al Forno | Baked Zucchini
- 4 medium zucchini
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
- 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a strainer with a cheese cloth or clean dish towel set over a bowl or plate. Line a 8×13 baking dish with parchment paper.
- Shred the zucchini using a cheese grater and place in the cheese cloth. Extract all of the moisture gathering the ends of the cheese cloth together and wringing the water out from the zucchini.
- Place the zucchini into a large bowl and add flour, parmesan, salt and pepper. In a small bowl, beat the two eggs together and add them in the zucchini mixture, and toss well.
- Overturn the mixture into the lined baking dish and press firmly to create an even, flat surface. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the top, and bake for 1 hour.
- Remove from the oven, allow to cool slightly, and cut into squares. This can be served warm or at room temperature.