Roasted Zucchini Parmesan with Fresh Tomato Sauce

I was going take a break from my zucchini posts, but this dish was absolutely amazing. I can’t believe I’ve never thought of this twist on Eggplant Parmesan. The zucchini is roasted instead of fried, layered with homemade fresh tomato sauce and Parmigiano Reggiano, and then baked. It was a little bit time-consuming for a summer meal but completely worth it!

This dish is from The New York Times, contributed by Martha Rose Shulman. We ate it with campanelle pasta and green salad on the side. Delicious!

Time: about 1½ hours

Yield: 4 servings

For the Tomato Sauce:

  • 2 to 2½ pounds fresh ripe tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 to 4 garlic cloves (to taste)
  • Salt and pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon sugar
  • 2 sprigs fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Zucchini Parmesan:

  • 2 to 2¼ pounds zucchini
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, to taste
  • ¾ cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • pasta, for serving, if desired
  1. Peel, seed and chop the tomatoes. (I peel the tomatoes by cutting an “x” into the skin on the bottom, and then dropping them into boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds.)
  2. Pulse the prepared tomatoes in a food processor fitted with steel blade until just coarsely puréed. Stir in chopped basil.
  3. To make tomato sauce, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat and add onion. Cook, stirring often, until tender, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add garlic. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds to a minute, and add tomatoes, salt, pepper, sugar and basil sprigs.
  5. Increase heat to medium-high. When tomatoes are bubbling briskly, stir and reduce heat to medium. Cook, stirring often, until tomatoes have cooked down and are beginning to stick to pan, 15 to 25 minutes, depending on consistency. Remove basil sprigs; taste and adjust seasoning.
  6. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment.
  7. Trim ends off zucchini and cut in half crosswise, then into lengthwise slices, about 1/4 to 1/3 inch thick. (I didn’t cut my smaller zucchini crosswise.)
  8. Season on both sides with salt and pepper and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Arrange zucchini slices on baking sheets in one layer and sprinkle with red pepper flakes. Roast for 12 minutes, until lightly browned and easily pierced with a knife.
  9. Remove from oven and reduce heat to 375 degrees.
  10. To assemble the dish, oil a 2-quart gratin with olive oil or cooking oil spray. Spread 1/4 cup tomato sauce over bottom of dish.
  11. Arrange a third of the zucchini in an even layer over tomato sauce. Spoon a third of remaining sauce over zucchini and sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan. Repeat with 2 more layers, ending with 1/4 cup Parmesan.
  12. Drizzle on remaining tablespoon olive oil. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, until bubbling and browned on the top and edges. Remove from heat and allow to sit for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

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One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Chicken Parmesan with Chicken Thighs

Growing up in the DC metro area, I didn’t eat a lot of chicken parmesan. I am surrounded by it in New York! You can eat this classic Italian-American dish pretty much anywhere and everywhere. It is served at every casual function. (not to mention eggplant parmesan!)

BUT… Wow! None of it is this good!! This is the perfect indulgent recipe for absolutely fabulous chicken parmesan. Simple and fresh-tasting sauce. Made with boneless skinless chicken thighs too- I think that is the secret to this incredible version. Comfort food at its best. 😉 We ate it with pasta and roasted asparagus. This recipe was adapted from the New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. As Melissa Clark says, “hearty, gooey, and satisfying.”

For the Simple Tomato Sauce:

Yield: about 5 cups

  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • ¼ teaspoon red chile flakes (optional)
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans whole plum tomatoes (I used San Marzano)
  • 2 sprigs basil or 1 bay leaf
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt, or to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  1. In a large, straight-sided skillet over medium heat, warm the oil. Add garlic and cook until just lightly golden. Add chile flakes if desired and cook 30 seconds.
  2. Stir in tomatoes and juices, basil or bay leaf, and salt and pepper.
  3. Bring sauce to a simmer and cook until sauce is thick and tomatoes have mostly fallen apart, about 30 to 40 minutes. Adjust heat as needed to keep at a steady simmer. Mash the tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon or a potato masher to help them break down. Remove sauce from heat and discard basil or bay leaf.

For the Casserole:

Yield: Serves 6

  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (I used 10)
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 to 3 cups panko bread crumbs, as needed
  • coarse salt, as needed
  • freshly ground black pepper, as needed
  • extra-virgin olive oil, for frying
  • 5 cups Simple Tomato Sauce (recipe above)
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • ½ pound fresh mozzarella, torn into bite-sized pieces
  • noodles for serving, if desired
  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place chicken thighs between two pieces of parchment or plastic wrap. Using a kitchen mallet or rolling pin, pound meat to even 1/4-inch-thick slices.
  2. Place flour, eggs and panko into three wide, shallow bowls.
  3. Season meat generously with salt and pepper.
  4. Dip a piece in flour, then eggs, then coat with panko. Repeat until all the meat is coated.
  5. Fill a large skillet with 1/4-inch oil. (I used a 12-inch cast iron skillet.) Place over medium to medium-high heat.
  6. When oil is hot, fry cutlets in batches, turning halfway through, until golden brown, about 1-2 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper towel-lined sheet pan or plate.
  7. Spoon a thin layer of sauce over the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan.
  8. Sprinkle one-third of the Parmesan over sauce.
  9. Place half of the cutlets over the Parmesan and top with half the mozzarella pieces.
  10. Top with half the remaining sauce, sprinkle with another third of the Parmesan, and repeat layering, ending with a final layer of sauce and Parmesan.
  11. Transfer pan to oven and bake until cheese is golden and casserole is bubbling, about 25 minutes (on convection) but up to 40 minutes (in a standard oven). Let cool a few minutes before serving.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Classic Mozzarella Grandma Pizza Pie

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My true (pizza) love is a thin-crust margherita pie- AMAZING. This pizza is the complete opposite- yet absolutely delicious too! The crust is thick, fluffy, and tender. The top is loaded with fresh mozzarella and a special tomato sauce. I have enjoyed a “Grandma” slice from a pizzeria in the past, but this version was exponentially better. This recipe was adapted from Bon Appetit, contributed by Alfia Muzio.

Yield: 1 pie, about 6 servings

This pillowy crust dough proofs for 24-hours prior to baking. I was able to use my fingertips to form it into the 18×13-inch rectangle with ease.

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For the Grandma-Style Pizza Dough:

  • 1 envelope active dry yeast (about 2¼ tsp.)
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for bowl
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, divided, plus more for surface (I used 1/2 white whole wheat flour.)
  1. Combine yeast and 1½ cups warm water (105–110°) in a large bowl; let stand until yeast starts to foam, about 10 minutes.
  2. Mix in 2 Tbsp. oil, then salt and 2 cups flour. Add another 2 cups flour, a cup at a time, mixing until incorporated and a shaggy dough forms.
  3. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until soft, smooth, and elastic, 10–12 minutes. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Chill 24 hours.
  4. Coat an 18×13” rimmed baking sheet with remaining 1/4 cup oil. Gently and gradually stretch dough until it reaches the edges of baking sheet. (If dough springs back or is stiff to work with, let it rest 10 minutes before continuing. You may need to let it rest more than once.)
  5. Cover dough on baking sheet tightly with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place (but not too warm!—about 70° is ideal for yeast to grow) until it is puffed and full of air bubbles, 30–40 minutes. (I used the proof setting on my warming drawer.)

 The anchovies give the sauce something special. SO good!

For the Fresh Tomato Pizza Sauce:

  • 1 28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes, drained (I used San Marzano)
  • 2 anchovy fillets packed in oil, drained
  • 2 cloves garlic cloves
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ cup fresh basil leaves, packed
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Pulse tomatoes, anchovies, garlic, oil, and basil in a food processor or blender until mostly smooth (some texture is okay); season with salt and pepper.

To Assemble the Pizza:

  • Grandma-Style Pizza Dough
  • 12 to 16 ounces fresh mozzarella, grated (about 2½ cups)
  • 1½ cups Fresh Tomato Pizza Sauce
  • coarse or flaky sea salt (such as Maldon) and crushed red pepper flakes, for serving, optional
  1. Place a rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 500° or as high as oven will go.
  2. Once dough has risen on baking sheet, top with mozzarella, and dot pie with tomato sauce; sprinkle with salt and red pepper flakes, if desired. Bake pie until golden brown and crisp on bottom and sides, 20–30 minutes.

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One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Gnocchi with Bacon and Tomato

Now that spring is here we are busy doing TONS of yard work. I needed a quick dinner to pull together with my last bit of energy. This is my FAVORITE quick dinner. SUPER QUICK.

I use store bought whole wheat or regular potato gnocchi – although I am sure that this dish would be even more amazing with homemade! It is quite spicy with the red pepper flakes -which I love as well. We eat it with a green salad or roasted vegetables on the side. This recipe was adapted from Everyday Food.

Yield: Serves 4

For the Sauce:

  • 4 (thick) or 5 (regular) slices bacon, thinly sliced crosswise
  • 3 medium tomatoes, or 6-8 Campari tomatoes, cored and diced medium
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes, to taste
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 batch simple potato gnocchi (recipe below) or 17.6 oz (500g) store-bought whole wheat or regular potato gnocchi (cooked according to package directions)
  • fresh parsley or basil, chopped, for garnish
  • parmesan, shaved or grated, for garnish
  1. In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium-high until crisp. Drain on paper towels; remove all but 2 teaspoons fat from skillet.
  2. Add tomatoes, garlic, and red-pepper flakes; season with salt and pepper. Cook until tomatoes begin to break down and sauce is chunky, 6 minutes.
  3. Add cooked gnocchi and bacon. Toss until gnocchi are heated through and coated with sauce.
  4. Sprinkle with herbs and Parmesan; serve immediately.

For the Simple Potato Gnocchi:

Prep Time: 50 minutes, Total Time: 2 hours

Yield: Serves 8

  • 2 1/2 pounds russet potatoes (about 5 small)
  • coarse salt
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  1. In a large pot, bring potatoes to a boil in salted water; reduce to a rapid simmer and cook until potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife, 35 to 40 minutes.
  2. Lightly dust two parchment-lined rimmed baking sheets with flour; set aside.
  3. Drain potatoes and peel while still hot with a paring knife (use a thick, dry kitchen towel or pot holder to hold them). Immediately pass potatoes through a ricer onto a work surface. Let cool completely.
  4. Sprinkle potatoes with flour and 2 teaspoons salt, then top with egg. With your hands, work flour and egg into a dough.
  5. Knead dough until smooth but not elastic, dusting with flour if it becomes too sticky, 4 minutes. Do not overwork dough.
  6. Divide dough into 8 portions. Roll each portion into a rope (1/2 inch thick and 24 inches long). Cut each rope into 1/2-inch pieces.
  7. Gently roll each dough piece against the back tines of a fork to make ridges, then arrange in a single layer on prepared baking sheets.
  8. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. In batches, add a few handfuls gnocchi and cook until most have floated to top, 2 minutes. With a wire-mesh spider or a slotted spoon, transfer gnocchi immediately to a sauce.

Note: Place boiled gnocchi on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, cover, and let sit, up to 2 hours.

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