Zucchini Romano – Everyday Healthy! Everyday Delicious!

Zucchini Romano – Everyday Healthy! Everyday Delicious!Zucchini Romano – Layers of Roasted Zucchini, Chunky Tomato Sauce & Pecorino Romano

According to the weather rather than the calendar, fall has definitely arrived in southwestern Montana. Even so, along with the nighttime chill in the air and trees and shrubs displaying their fall colors, there’s still an abundance of tomatoes continuing to ripen and lots of zucchini ready for harvesting. Zucchini Romano – Everyday Healthy! Everyday Delicious!To make the most of this late summer bounty during these transition days, I turned on my oven and baked a dish of Zucchini Romano. This light and tasty casserole combines a chunky, fresh basil-laced tomato sauce with roasted zucchini and a few gratings of Pecorino Romano cheese.

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Pecorino Romano

Pecorino Romano is a traditional hard, dry and crumbly Italian sheep’s milk cheese. The word “pecorino” comes from the Italian word for sheep, pecora. The label “Romano” refers to the Romans rather than to Rome. The Romans are credited with first making this type of cheese over two thousand years ago. In Roman times, Pecorino Romano was considered part of the staple diet of soldiers at war.

Pecorino Romano gains its sharp, salty and fabulous flavor from its frequent rubbing with coarse salt during its lengthy 8 or more months of aging. For the best taste and texture, choose Italian Pecorino Romano (Costco sells a delicious one). Don’t be fooled by the American cheese labeled “Romano.” Totally different in both taste and texture. Plus it’s produced from cow’s rather than sheep’s milk. Freshly grated Parmesan cheese is an excellent and flavorsome alternative to Pecorino Romano. But then you’ll have made Zucchini Parmesan.  😉

Some like it chunky

Zucchini Romano – Everyday Healthy! Everyday Delicious!The first time I made this tomato sauce I was feeling impatient and rushed for time. So, I didn’t peel the tomatoes. And, as much of the tomato flavor is in the tomato seeds and the jelly around them, I didn’t seed my tomatoes either. In the process I discovered that leaving the peel on and the seeds in place made for a delightfully chunky and delicious sauce.

Note: Using either a food mill or a high-speed blender you can get a smooth sauce even when you include the tomato peels and seeds.

Zucchini Romano – Everyday Healthy! Everyday Delicious!

Zucchini Romano

Layers of homemade chunky tomato sauce with roasted zucchini and a sprinkling of Pecorino Romano makes for a light and flavorful entrée or side dish. I hear it’s as delicious cold as it is hot. Though, we’ve never had enough left over to confirm this.

Note: Using either a food mill or a high-speed blender you can get a smooth sauce even when you include the tomato peels and seeds.

Inspired by and lightly adapted from a recipe by Martha Rose Shulman in the NY Times.

Makes             6 servings                                                 Printer-Friendly Recipe
Active Time    50 minutes
Total Time      1½ hours

Ingredients

Tomato Sauce (makes 3½ cups)
2½ pounds fresh ripe tomatoes, cored and quartered (7 cups)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, 1/3 inch diced (1½ cups)
2 large garlic cloves
¼ teaspoon sea salt
Dozen twists freshly ground black pepper
⅛ teaspoon organic sugar, optional
2 large sprigs of fresh basil
2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil

Zucchini
2 pounds zucchini, both yellow and greenZucchini Romano – Everyday Healthy! Everyday Delicious!
Large pinch sea salt
2 twists freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

Assembly
¾ cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano (or Parmesan)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Directions
  1. Prepare the tomato sauce. In a Dutch oven or heavy Zucchini Romano – Everyday Healthy! Everyday Delicious!saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium low heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, stir in the diced onion. Cover the pan and cook for 7 minutes or until the onion is translucent.
  2. Press the garlic through a garlic press and stir it into the onion. After 1 minute, stir in the quartered tomatoes, salt, pepper, sugar and basil sprigs. Increase the heat to medium-high bringing the mixture to a boil. Lower the heat to medium.
  3. Cook the tomato mixture for 25 minutes, stirring often. The tomatoes will break down and their juices will reduce and concentrate.
  4. Prepare the zucchini.While the tomato sauce is cooking, heat the oven to 475 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  5. Slice off the stems from the zucchini and a thin slice from the flower end. Cut Zucchini Romano – Everyday Healthy! Everyday Delicious!each zucchini in half crosswise. Use a sharp knife to cut 3/8 to ¼ inch thick lengthwise slices from each half. Place the slices in a large bowl. Toss them with a large pinch of salt, a couple of twists of freshly ground pepper and a tablespoon of olive oil.
  6. Transfer the zucchini slices in a single layer to the prepared baking sheets. Lightly sprinkle them with the red pepper flakes. Roast the zucchini for 12 minutes or until it is easily pierced with a fork. Remove the zucchini from the oven. Reduce the oven to 375 degrees.
  7. Remove the basil sprigs from the tomato sauce. Transfer the sauce, in two batches, to a food processor. Use the pulse button to create a chunky tomato sauce. Or use a food mill or a high-speed blender to create a smooth sauce. Adjust the salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the fresh basil.Zucchini Romano – Everyday Healthy! Everyday Delicious!
  8. Assembly. Lightly spray a 2-quart baking dish with olive oil. (My baking dish is 7 ½ by 11 ¾-inches.)
  9. Spread a half cup of the tomato sauce over the bottom of the baking dish. Cover the tomato sauce with a single layer of one-third of the roasted zucchini. Smooth one cup of the tomato sauce over the zucchini. Sprinkle with ¼ cup of the grated Pecorino Romano cheese.
  10. Repeat with 2 more layers of sliced zucchini, tomato sauce and cheese. End with the final ¼ cup of grated Pecorino Romano cheese. Lightly drizzle the top with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
  11. Zucchini Romano – Everyday Healthy! Everyday Delicious!Bake Zucchini Romano on a baking sheet in the middle of the oven for 35 minutes. Reset the oven to broil. Cook for another 3-5 minutes until it is bubbling and deliciously browned on top.
  12. Remove Zucchini Romano from the oven. Let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Printer-Friendly Recipe.

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2 thoughts on “Zucchini Romano – Everyday Healthy! Everyday Delicious!

  1. Hi Janice,
    Thank you for this awesome recipe. I made it with beautiful red farmers market tomatoes and it was soooooo good. I made it for a potluck and everybody loved it!
    Mitzi

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