I have a shopping problem. Fortunately, it’s not for shoes or designer handbags, it’s at the farmers market. I am so enamored of all the beautiful fresh produce and artisan made foods that my eyes are often bigger than my shopping bag. I try to go with a plan and a list, but I just get so enticed by all the wonderful things. The fire-engine red tomatoes in every size and shape. Electric purple and snowy white eggplants. Rainbow collections of knobbly peppers. Pink and red and soft and fuzzy peaches. Plums with an inner glow. Sunshine yellow squash. And when I see the speckled green zucchini nestled up next to their crookneck cousins, a few inevitably make it home with me.
I have a large repertoire of squash preparations, but my zucchini menu is limited. I haven’t mastered the right zucchini bread recipe. I love them on the grill, if I have the grill going. I’ve done a beautiful shaved salad dressed with a light vinaigrette, but found it prettier than it tasted. So this is my solution for an abundance of summer zucchini. A simple casserole that highlights the flavor of zucchini, beautifully set off by fresh oregano and salty parmesan. It’s rich with eggs, so it’s sort of a soufflé. But it’s bit denser, and a lot less trouble to make. I served this recently to some almost- teenagers, and I’ve got to tell you I was a little surprised, but they cleaned their plates.
Zucchini Sort of Soufflé
3 medium zucchini
1 medium onion
2 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
¼ cup milk
¾ cup dry breadcrumbs (purchased work best)
¾ cup grated parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 2 quart baking dish.
Cut the ends off the zucchini and cut into large pieces. With the grating disk on a food processor or the medium holes on a box grater, grate the zucchini. You should have roughly 6 cups. Toss the grated zucchini with 1 teaspoon kosher salt in a colander and leave to drain for at least 10 minutes.
While you’ve got the grater out, grate the onion. If you prefer, you can dice it finely. Heat the butter and olive oil in a skillet and cook the onion until it is soft and translucent but not brown. In the last few minutes of cooking, toss in 1 Tablespoon of chopped oregano and stir to combine. Remove from the heat.
Place the zucchini on a clean tea towel, roll it up, and squeeze out the moisture. Place the zucchini in a large bowl, add the onion and stir. Measure the milk into a jug, then crack in the eggs and beat together. Add to the zucchini mixture and stir to combine. Add the bread crumbs and the remaining chopped oregano, a few grinds of black pepper and a sprinkling of kosher salt and stir to combine.
Scrape the mixture into the prepared baking dish and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the top with parmesan. Bake until puffed and golden, another 10 – 15 minutes.
Serves 6- 8