I didn't realize until this morning that yesterday was "National Zucchini Day." This would have been the perfect thing to post yesterday in honor of the day, but I was busy running around with errands and taking the youngest of my brood to see the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. Which, by the way, got a thumbs up from my TMNT purist... definitely worth seeing if you have kids who enjoy that sort of thing. I was surprised that I actually found myself getting into the movie. My little guy has been waiting for this movie for months! He was so over the moon excited that it made for a wonderful afternoon.
Back on topic... zucchini is really one of my favorite vegetables. There is just so much you can do with it. I love eating it raw, grilled, as a replacement for pasta, in beads and muffins. I made this recipe on the fly one evening this past week because I had a couple large zucchini to use up. I have an amazing friend who has been sharing the bounty from her parents garden. This means I have been the lucky recipient of lots of beautiful, fresh, home grown produce this summer. I love it... there is nothing better than home grown vegetables. They taste better, I think in part because you can taste the love and care they were grown with.
We've been eating a lot of all vegetable meals lately, since the produce is so good right now. Nights where dinner is nothing more than some roasted ears of corn, some sliced tomatoes, a cucumber salad and maybe some fresh peaches or watermelon for dessert. It's so delicious that we don't even miss the meat or starchy sides. Totally satisfying. I only wish summer eating was available all year long. Canning and freezing to save for the off season is great but it's not the same as eating it fresh off the vine or out of the ground. If I lived in an area where this kind of produce was available year round, I would be really close to vegetarian... except for the bacon. I can't give up the bacon or a well prepared steak now and then. What have YOU been eating this summer?
This recipe is pretty basic. You can add or subtract whatever herbs you might like. I used what I had readily on hand at the moment. Even the cheeses can be changed if you like. This would be great with feta or goat cheese, Swiss... whatever you like. Don't have any Club crackers? Use saltines, Ritz or even panko. This makes a delicious side dish or even the main dish of a meal if you like. That's what we did with this. It was the focus of our meal with several other vegetable side dishes. It was filling without feeling heavy. Perfect for warm summer day meal. It was also delicious served room temperature. And the best part was that the kids ADORED it! That always makes a recipe a winner for me.
Summer Zucchini Gratin
2 large zucchini (about 8 cups) sliced into 1/4 inch thick coins
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 shallots, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
I sleeve Club crackers, crushed
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1: Preheat oven to 400 F.
2: Prepare a 9x13 casserole dish by coating lightly with olive oil.
3: In a bowl, beat eggs and cream together.
4: Add salt and pepper to the egg mixture and combine well.
5: Layer half the zucchini slices in the bottom of the casserole dish.
6: Top zucchini layer with half of the chopped shallot, garlic, basil and parsley.
7: Top shallot/herb layer with half of the Club cracker crumbs.
8: Top cracker layer with half of the Parmesan and cheddar cheeses.
9: Repeat layers a second time, but DO NOT add the cracker crumbs.
10. Slowly pour egg and cream mixture over everything, making sure to distribute the liquid evenly.
11: Top with the remaining cracker crumbs.
12: Bake in the oven for 25-35 minutes depending on how tender you want the zucchini.
13: Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes before slicing.
Makes about 8 servings.