Parmigiana di Zucchine
I think that I have mentioned what a treat it has become to find my husband in the kitchen, making something wonderful for dinner. I’ve also mentioned that it is a rare occurrence since we moved to the States with his brutal new work schedule. It was treat for both of us this Sunday when he made a parmigiana di zucchine, something he’s always loved since he can’t enjoy eggplant parmigiana. This is only the second time that he has made this, the first in bianco, without tomato sauce, I prefer tomato version. The tomato sauce gives it the right amount of acidity, balancing out the flavors.
Aside from making pasta dishes, we have very different cooking styles, he is better with meat than I am and will make things like this parmigiana that take a lot of work. Not saying that I only cook things that are easy, but if frying is a middle step in the process, I will usually avoid making it. Honestly, if frying is a step at all, I will avoid making it.
We’ve never been great collaborators in the kitchen, I tend to have too many opinions on the way things should be done, control issues, but he can’t get away with not similar issues of control. We butt heads as opposed to helping one another, I hope that we won’t have this problem with child rearing!
Parmigiana di Zucchine
- 4 – 5 large zucchini
- 2 cups of tomato sauce
- 4-6 eggs, beaten
- flour, as much as needed to coat the zucchini
- 1/2 lb of mozzarella (we’re dreaming of the cheap little bags of mozzarella that you could find in Italy that people use for cooking)
- oil for frying the zucchini, enough to fill the pan an inch or two
- extra virgin olive oil for the sauce
- 4-6 slices of good sweet deli ham, sliced very thin
- fresh basil, about a cup packed
- paper towels
Slice the zucchini lengthwise into 1/2 inch strips. Beat the eggs in a bowl and put the flour on a separate plate. Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat until it sizzles when you drop some flour in the oil. This indicates that the oil is ready for frying.
Dredge slices of zucchini in the flour, shaking off the extra flour and then smother with the beaten eggs. When it is well coated carefully ease into the hot oil, repeat with as many slices as will fit into your frying pan without crowding. This is the most time consuming part of the process, you have to fry the zucchini in batches, our frying pan fit about 4 slices at a time. Let the zucchini brown on both sides turning after about a minute or two. When they are golden brown remove from the hot oil, hold them over the oil to drain of excess oil and place on a plate lined with paper towels. Repeat this process with the rest of the zucchini, piling them on the plate with paper towels between each layer. You want to make sure you have at least one roll of paper towels. Use recycled paper towels, poor trees, it is shocking how much you end up using.
In the meantime heat about 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil in a small saucepan, pour in the tomato purée and a few basil leaves, allow to simmer at a medium-low heat until needed to create the parmigiana.
Preheat the oven to 350°
When the zucchini slices are all fried, lightly coat the bottom of a baking dish with the tomato sauce like you would for a lasagna. Place one layer of zucchini on the tomato sauce, pressing out any excess oil with fresh paper towels as you work down the stack. Using half of the mozzarella, spread on that first layer of zucchini and pour another thin layer of tomato sauce on top. Place the second layer of zucchini on the mozzarella, and cover with the ham slices, the rest of the basil and more tomato sauce. Place the third layer of zucchini on the ham, cover that with the rest of the mozzarella and more tomato sauce. Depending on how much zucchini is left the fourth layer of zucchini should be the last. Top the parmigiana with tomato sauce and place in the preheated oven for 20 to 30 minutes.
When it is done, allow to sit for at least 10 minutes. My husband likes this cold, and wanted to let it sit for at least 30 minutes, I’ll leave this up to you. This is also great the next day, cold or reheated.