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A delicious way to use up lots of zukes in one go
It’s best to harvest zucchini when they are under 7″. If you let them get too big, seeds form in the cavity, the taste changes from sweet to mealy, with a watery texture, and the plant will stop producing flowers and fruit since its mandate is to reproduce itself. Pick ’em small.
If the inevitable happens and you end up with overgrown zukes, though, here’s a recipe to use up lots of zucchini. If they really get out of hand (baseball bat size), just compost them—they have little flavour and a mealy texture.
Please read the recipe through one time before starting.
• 4 or 5 X 8-9” zucchini sliced on the diagonal quite thinly
• Olive oil
• 2-3 slices or chunks of good quality bread
• fresh basil leaves
• salt and pepper to taste
• garlic cloves
• 200g (1.5 c.) cheese (more or less). Cheddar, asiago, pecorino, gruyere, feta, goat cheese – all work well in this gratin.
• 4-5 large large tomatoes thinly sliced
• thyme and/or anchovies – both optional
The crumb layers will prevent the gratin from getting watery. You can play with additions to the crumbs—try different herbs, or shallots.
Quantities are estimated as the recipe is forgiving.
Grease a heavy ovenproof dish about 9–10″ in diameter and at least 2.5″ high. I like to use an oval one but any shape is OK.
Line the pan with with zucchini slices, overlapping them.
Into a food processor put the bread, basil, thyme (if desired), leaves removed from woody stem, salt and pepper, 2-4 cloves garlic. Pulse on and off 10-15 seconds until crumb-like texture is achieved.
Position rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat to about 400F.
Strew 1/3 of the crumb mixture over first layer of zucchini, drizzle lightly with olive oil. Add another layer of zucchini, 1/3 more of the crumbs, and so on. Three layers usually works well. If you are going to add the anchovies, do this now before tomato layer.
Cover with sliced tomatoes – overlapping them looks nice and doesn’t take any more time. By the way, if you have lots of smaller tomatoes or cherry types in your garden go ahead and use them.
Drizzle with olive oil. Bake 35-40 minutes then remove from oven briefly. While gratin bakes, grate the cheese (or crumble if you use feta or goat). A mixture of cheeses works well. Sprinkle this all over the top of the gratin. Bake about 10 minutes more until cheese is bubbling. Allow to cool for 1/2 hr before eating.