Do you have a garden? I have been gardening together with my parents for the past 5 years – my dad prepares the soil, my mom and I plant – and I can’t describe the amount of excitement and pride that I feel when I see results.
Take for instance this Zucchini Tomato Bake – the zucchinis and tomatoes in this dish all came from our vegetable garden.
*On a side note: You know, I always forget to pick the zucchini on time, and when I do pick it, it is as long as my 3 year old. Honest. I can’t believe how big they can get over night.
But, the tomatoes…ohhhh the tomatoes…wow! To say that they are delicious would be an understatement. Juicy, yet firm, sweet, yet tangy. The perfect balance.
To add, you know you’ve got something good when you all run to the garden, pick a vegetable and eat it right there and then. No washing, cutting, plating.
What’s better is when you prepare something with those vegetables and there are no leftovers. This dish was polished off in one sitting. That’s also very rewarding.
But, I’ve come to realize that if I want this family to enjoy veggies more often, (summer is almost over and our garden is almost empty) I must pair those veggies with cheese. And crunchy bread.
The first time I made this dish, I sprinkled the crumb mixture over every layer and across the top, thinking that it may add more crunch. Didn’t happen. I liked it, but the crumbs in between the layers were soggy. The next time I made it I put the entire breadcrumb mixture on top of the casserole and that was waaaay better. It’s up to you, though. You can try it both ways and see which one works better for you. You can also use different cheeses, but I recommend trying the Monterey Jack; it gives it a sharper kick.
- 2 medium-sized zucchinis, sliced to ¼-inch thickness
- 5-6 tomatoes, sliced to ¼-inch thickness
- Kosher Salt, to taste
- Black Pepper, to taste
- 2 ½ cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided
- 1 cup plain breadcrumbs
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon dry basil
- 3 tablespoons butter, melted
- Olive oil
- Fresh basil leaves
- Preheat oven to 375.
- Lightly grease a casserole dish with cooking spray.
- Arrange half of the zucchini slices in the casserole dish, lightly season with salt and pepper.
- Arrange one-third of the tomato slices on top of the zucchini slices, lightly season with salt and pepper.
- Repeat layers, tomatoes should be the last layer. *Lightly season each layer with salt and pepper.
- In a large bowl, combine 1½ cups of cheese, bread crumbs, garlic, and basil.
- Add the melted butter to the breadcrumbs mixture and mix well until incorporated.
- Sprinkle the entire mixture on top of the vegetables.
- Add the rest of the shredded Monterey Jack Cheese on top.
- Drizzle a bit of olive oil across the entire casserole, cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
- Remove foil and bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
- Let cool for 10 minutes before cutting.
- Sprinkle some fresh basil leaves on top and serve as a main course or a side dish to any meal.