Zucchini Breakfast Casserole

In my garden, there lives The Beast, a 5 foot tall zucchini plant that puts out 2 full-sized zucchinis a day. Even with all the great zucchini recipes we have, it’s hard for three people to consume 14 zucchini a week. (There’s also a pattypan squash plant.) So around this time of year I’m always looking for ways to use up my overflowing vegetable drawer of zucchini.

This is an easy-to-make strata-like breakfast casserole with grated zucchini, tomatoes, basil, ricotta, and Parmesan. (The tomatoes and basil are growing like mad now too.) Actually I’m not sure what to call it. Breakfast casserole seems to fit because of the eggs, though we ate this for lunch. You could also call it a strata.

It’s like a frittata but it’s baked, not made on the stovetop (though I’m sure you could make a frittata out of it). The inspiration for it comes from a “cuajado”, or a baked frittata popular in Sephardic cooking. This isn’t a cuajado, but the flavors are there, and they’re terrific together.

Zucchini Breakfast Casserole Recipe

  • Prep time: 25 minutes
  • Cook time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: Makes 6-8 portions.

Ingredients

  • 6-8 eggs
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce or other hot chili sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups grated zucchini (from 2-3 fresh zucchinis)
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped plum tomatoes (from 4-5 fresh tomatoes),
  • 1/2 cup sliced fresh basil (from about 20 leaves)*
  • 4 cups cubed day-old bread (from about 4 slices)
  • Olive oil

*Chiffonade basil by stacking a few leaves on top of each other, roll them up like a cigar, slice thin, starting at one end of the cigar and working your way down.

Method

1 Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl beat the eggs. Add the ricotta and beat until smooth. Mix in the grated Parmesan cheese, Tabasco, salt and pepper.

2 Prepare the vegetables and bread. Once you chop the tomatoes, squeeze excess moisture out of them by pressing them in a sieve, or wrapping in paper towels and squeezing. Add the tomatoes, basil, and zucchini to the egg mixture. Moisten the bread cubes with a little water then squeeze out any excess moisture using paper towels. Mix the bread cubes into the egg mixture.

3 Coat the bottom and sides of a 9x13 baking dish generously with olive oil. Pour the egg vegetable mixture into the baking pan and even it out in the pan. Place in the middle rack of the oven. Bake for 30 minutes at 350°F. The casserole should puff up and brown lightly. If it hasn't after 30 minutes at 350, increase the heat to 425° and cook for 5-10 minutes further. Remove from oven and let cool on a rack for 10 minutes before cutting into squares to serve.

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Sephardic Flavors - by Joyce Goldstein

68 Comments

  1. cookie 63

    I have the “generous” neighbor that gladly shares his zucchini with me. But he also shares his tomatoes and peppers too!. This recipe is what I’ve always heard called a strata. Basically any baked egg casserole with bread cubes and assorted fillings is called a strata. I’m planning on making this Sunday morning. What’s great is you can assemble these the night before and then bake the next morning. Great on Thanksgiving and Christmas when you have company and don’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen.

  2. Sofia

    Elise, if I want to make this gluten free and skip the bread would it turn out OK?

    Should work. It will be more frittata like then. ~Elise

    • Laurie Tillett

      You can always use shredded potatoes in place of the bread. I do all the time (frozen hash browns).

  3. Lee

    Thank you! We also have a Beast and are up to our, um, eyes (yeah, that’s it!) in zucchini. Fortunately, the 20-month-old likes munching on the smaller ones, but even that’s not enough to keep the supplies down. This weekend I’m going to try an old recipe of my grandmother’s — zucchini bread and butter pickles. I’ll pass it along if it’s good!

    Please do! ~Elise

  4. Hungry Again

    This summer for the very first time we have plants which actually produce zucchinis. It looks like we’ll have an abondanza to deal with, but who cares! The past few years only yielded flowers which we happily stuffed, battered, and fried. There is a trick to tell if a flower is good for stuffing, or will produce a vegetable. The male stalk is thin, while the female, the one that makes zucchini, is fatter, and has a miniature zuch on the stem.

    My family originated in Aleppo, and we have a similar dish with yellow squash, sauteed onions, white cheese and eggs.

  5. misca

    I LOVE zucchini and eggs. The bigguns that grow filled with scrambled eggs cheese and the scooped out zucchini filling then baked off is my favorite summer treat

  6. Kenyan Foodie

    Hey Elise,
    I was just wondering why you have to moisten the bread cubes with a little water and squeeze out any excess moisture before putting them in the egg mixture?

    You don’t have to, but if you do, the result will be more consistently moist throughout. Many breakfast casserole recipes call for adding milk, which accomplishes the same thing, it moistens the bread. ~Elise

  7. Dave

    Instead of squeezing moisture out of the tomatoes and then moistening the bread with water, why not put the tomatoes and bread in a bowl and squeeze them together? Keep that good tomato juice!

    You could do that too. ~Elise

  8. Nancy Guppy

    More things to do with zucchini…
    – grate it and freeze it for cakes and muffins
    – saute it with garlic, onion, olive oil and garden herbs and use as a starter sauce
    – slice into long ribbons, blanche and add to carbonara….

    I do love zucchini.

  9. Theresa

    I have a great recipe for zucchini. I believe I found it in a Gourmet magazine years ago.

    Roasted Zucchini and Yogurt Spread

    2 lb zucchini, cut into wedges
    Olive oil
    2 tea salt
    1/2 cup plain yogurt
    4 scallions, chopped fine

    Pre-heat oven to 500. In large shallow pan toss zucchini sprinkled w/olive oil and salt and roast, stirring once, until browned and falling apart. About 25 min. Cool zucchini and coarsely mash, Stir in yogurt, scallions, and salt and pepper. You can also grill the zucchini. That’s my favorite! serve with pita toasts.

  10. MIKE

    My mother makes zucchini bread and freezes. Take out the night before to thaw at room temp. Toast and butter or cream cheese. Just wonderful. Absolutely delicious. We also make zucchini Parm instead of eggplant. The taste is much better.

  11. moonvirgo

    My Favorite zucchini recipe right now is balsamic glazed zucchinis: slice them, toss in salt, oregano (or garlic or both or neither or whatever herb(s) you choose), olive oil, and balsamic vinegar, lay them out on a baking sheet, and bake them off. These are wonderful as is, or in a salad or on a sandwich (toast, goat cheese, tomatoes, garlic scapes, balsamic glazed zucchini)…

    YUMMMMM.

  12. oceanbug

    I love zucchini season! This is my favorite zucchini recipe:

    Sauté zucchini in olive oil with a crushed garlic clove till zucchini has a brown on it. Then add onion and sauté till its just about done then add tomatoes, contine to cook till done how you like it. Then top with sharp cheddar and serve it up.

    OMG it’s addicting; be careful you find yourself eating it every week!

    I never get tired of eating this stuff, this recipe has been in my family for generations. Enjoy!

  13. Suzanne

    Elise- I can relate…we call our basil plant “Cousin It”. This will be perfect for the brunch we’re hosting this Saturday..if I don’t have ricotta on hand, can you recommend something as an alternative?

    Another recipe I found used small curd cottage cheese, which I think would work well. ~Elise

  14. Steve Dunham

    If you’re looking for another zucchini recipe, we’re fans of Jamie Oliver’s Courgette Carbonara:

    http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/pasta-recipes/beautiful-courgette-carbonara

    I like the combination of the yellow and green summer squash and the way he quarters them and then cuts them on the bias to get pieces that resemble the penne.

  15. Christine

    Elise, your recipe looks delicious!

    Here is my recipe which will help you use up piles of zucchini. My children love it. I make two huge cookie trays of it and it gets devoured:

    Baked Zucchini

    zucchini, sliced lengthwise, 1/4 inch thick
    lots of freshly grated parmesean cheese
    olive oil

    Preheat oven to 400 while you slice squash and grate cheese. Arrange your squash in a single layer, very close together, on a rimmed, oiled baking tray. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 15-25 minutes or untill very tender and nicely browned.

  16. Infobabe

    Where are you? If you leave a bag of zucchini by the front door I will come and get it! Every week! 14- 20, whatever you can spare!!!!! I LOVE zucchini, and unfortunately, have no space for any kind of garden. I have to depend on the kindness (or desperation) of zucchini gardeners and I have no supplier this year. :-( But this sounds like a great idea and I am going to make it for something!

    My favorite zucchini recipe is to pan grill it with fresh cut up chunks of tomato and a fresh ear of corn kernels (I will use canned, I don’t care), a little olive oil, salt and pepper, and OMG! Or just grate up a couple of zucchini and saute in a pan with olive oil, salt and pepper. Yummmy. Okay, now I am hungry, I have to go fix supper.

  17. Dio

    I am an absolutely huge fan of zucchini pasta; raw, sliced zucchini purged and lightly seasoned. With the farmer’s market I get them from (our balcony garden is too limited on space for me to justify using the real estate on a squash plant)zucchini pasta provides a raw, vegan, local, organic menu option that lets us feed from the pickiest to the opportunivore. It is also great for mixing other squash as well. My favorite is to combine golden squash with small zukes.

    • Peel the rough outer skins.
    • Using the stem end has a handle, cut thin strips away with a vegetable peeler. The goal is a little thicker than fettuccine.
    • toss with lemon juice, lay out on papertowels on a baking sheet, and salt liberally. Cover with more paper towels.
    • Let sit twenty minutes, then “ring out” in a towel to get as much of the water off as possible.
    • Season and sauce to taste.

    I’ve made this with sauces ranging from vegan/raw pestos to traditional tomato sauces to mushroom ragouts. Tonight I’m making a vodka-pesto cream sauce.

  18. Fresh Eats

    I can relate to the Beast. Love the strata recipe.

    Another good use: saute onion, garlic and sliced zucchini in olive oil until soft in a dutch oven, add regular/soy/almond milk, simmer for a few, add a lot of sliced fresh basil and other herbs of choice, then buzz with the stick blender. Throw in a ton of freshly grated parmesan and serve over pasta.

    Sounds like a great way to use up a lot of zucchini! ~Elise

  19. Allison

    Sounds great! Have everything on hand to make tonight except the bread. Do you think I could substitute potatoes?

    If the potatoes are already cooked, then perhaps. Otherwise, they may still be rather raw at the time the eggs are done and the dish is ready to be pulled out. ~Elise

  20. Tonya

    This sounds great!

    The only way my mom could get us to eat zucchini as kids was..
    Bacon Zucchini Bake. Saute chopped bacon and onion together (the more the better just eye it)
    Mix together in a baking dish with thick cut slices of zucchini quartered. Cover with shreaded cheddar and bake till zucchini is tender. Yum-yum!

    I can eat almost anything cooked with bacon, onions, and cheese. Thanks for the idea! ~Elise

  21. Janet Amateau

    Breakfast? Lunch? It’s both, Elise! Cuajado (be it zucchini, spinach, tomato & bread cubes, leek & potato…)is a traditional Ottoman-Sephardic brunch dish, served warm or at room temperature on weekends with savory pastries, slow-roasted eggs, and fresh and marinated salads. It’s a heavenly meal. Thanks for sharing your inspiration.

  22. Carol

    I’m not a grower but do love zucchini. I prepare it many times like an antipasti: slice, brush with olive oil and grill on the stove. When I remove it to a container I sprinkle coarse salt over every layer. The olive oil and salt will keep it preserved for several days in the fridge and I try to prepare fresh tehina to go with it.

  23. Jeannine

    Zucchini has found it’s way into several of my recipes. I make a Spaighetti Bake with spaighetti sauce and noodles layered with mozzarella cheese. The sauce recipe calls for ground beef, but I now substitute with grated zucchini, yellow squash, and even carrots. Delicious and with the seasonings no one notices the ground beef is missing!

  24. Edith

    This is one of the best recipes I have EVER made! I’ll be making this again and again. Here in the Chicago area, our tomatoes are not yet ripe, so I subbed a cup of canned roasted tomatoes, drained. Worked just great.

  25. Emily

    This recipe was excellent. We used zucchini and basil from our garden (tomoatoes weren’t ready yet). I am not a big fan of hot egg/bread casseroles, but this was a big hit (even with my toddler twin boys!). I pretty much took took the seeds out of the tomatoes, so there really wasn’t much to drain. The basil adds a lot of flavor to the dish.

  26. courtney

    I made this for brunch this weekend, to rave reviews. It was simply excellent. I’d never in my life grated zucchini, so it was an adventure, but all turned out very well. It was easy and fast. I also made your blueberry muffins. Thank you!

  27. Peachy

    Thanks for the recipe! I never liked zucchini until we picked some fresh at farm a little while ago, and now I’m looking for recipes to use it all up. If you need another way to cook it, this pasta with zucchini ribbons was really delicious: http://yana42.blogspot.com/2009/07/zucchini-carrot-ribbon-pasta.html

  28. Karen

    I made this for my husband and son two days ago for dinner and they raved about it, eating the leftovers the next morning for breakfast. I had sun gold and surplice tomatoes in my garden so used those instead of plum, whole wheat day old bread. Your recipes have always been fantastic and this was no exception. Thanks!

  29. Mikeinknsascity

    I made a half-recipe of this dish at the weekend and added some chopped, fried bacon as well. It was great and the bacon definitely added some needed, extra flavor. I’ll probably add some chopped bell pepper and onions next time. ‘Made excellent leftovers for lunch as well.

  30. angelika bertrand

    Found incredible receipes on the net. I made home made Zucchini salsa, it has more zucchini in it then tomatoes. It is yummy.
    I made stuffed zucchinis, steamed zucchinis
    I used it in breads and muffins and pancakes
    I also dehydrate for winter time
    I also freeze some in for stews in the winter

    I canned today home made corn salsa, pickled jalapenos.

    Spaghetti sauce, everything out of my garden. YUM!

  31. Miss Fig

    Had this for breakfast today and am looking forward to having it with a salad for lunch. I kept it in the oven a little too long to brown the top, it burned on the bottom and is sticking a bit even though I used Pam. No biggie, next time I’ll cook it less.

    Big revelation for me was draining & squeezing the fresh tomatoes. They provide a nice sweet note, and keep the casserole from getting soggy. I treated the grated zucchini the same way. I added some sauteed fresh onions that also sweetened it up.

    Next time I might put a bit more hot sauce in it or fresh pepper, it needs a little more something. Maybe my fault, didn’t have basil so used a couple sprigs of thyme.

  32. Brenda Doyle

    I make mini vegetable quiches and use Bisquick mixed in to create a crust. Do you think that Bisquick could be substituted for the bread crumbs in this recipe? I’m just not sure how much to use.

    No idea, but if you try it please let us know how it turns out. ~Elise

  33. molly

    I’m a little late to the game here, but has anybody tried to freeze this to be heated and/or cooked later? I have a bunch of garden zucchinis and a need to bring over a dish for a friend who just had a baby. Thanks!

  34. natalie

    I make something similar to this and it’s to die for! Ingredients are (sorry I pretty much just throw together but I’ll try to aproximate amounts). Brown 2# ground beef w/ some diced onion (tony karchtners seasoning is awesome in this too!), 2 c. parboiled diced zuccini, 6 eggs, 4-8 slices of bread and about 2 c. shrd chedder cheese and 1 c. shredded swiss. mix & bake in greased 13×9 pan at 375 about 30-40 min. and you’re in heaven!

  35. Mandy Frielinghaus

    I have never thought of using zucchini in a breakfast menu – fabulous idea! The closest I have got is a marrow quiche.
    :-)

  36. Edith

    I really LOVED this recipe last year and will trot it out again now that the garden is in full bloom. Question…we planted yellow summer squash this year, instead of zucchini. Think it’d work the same using yellow squash?

    Yes, it will work great with any summer squash. ~Elise

  37. Krystal

    Elise –
    This sounds so tasty that I almost hate to ask… but, well, I don’t want to risk my son dying from his egg allergy. I fully intend to make this recipe as-is for the adults in the family, but do you know of any good substitutions for egg that I could use to make this? Thank you!!

    Hi Krystal, Hmmm, this is a breakfast casserole where the primary ingredient is egg. It’s like a frittata with bread. I honestly don’t know what to suggest as alternative and still have it work for this recipe. ~Elise

  38. Lisa

    This looks and sounds amazing! I make a similar recipe with eggs, bacon, spinach and cheese (a crustless quiche, actually) but I will definitely try this one next, omitting the hot sauce though. YUM!!

  39. Krista

    Hi there, I think this sounds great, but I am wondering if you can think of anything to sub for the cheese? I don’t do dairy – do you think tofu would work? Or goat cheese?

    Thanks for your help. Love you blog.
    Krista

    You could try cottage cheese, or goat cheese. ~Elise

  40. Tempy

    Hi Elise, right now we are up to your elbows in Zuchinni and, other than myself, my two roommates refuse to try them. I am running out of people to feed them to! Help! Does this recipe taskes very zuchinni-ish? Also, do you have any good recipes for spaguetti squash?

    Zucchini has a subtle taste, and the taste of the zucchini in this casserole is in my opinion subtle as well. As for the spaghetti squash, not at the time of this writing. ~Elise

  41. Linnea

    I saw above that you recommended curd cottage cheese in place of ricotta. Do you have another suggestion for those of us who do not care for either?

    Goat cheese? Your guess is as good as mine. ~Elise

  42. Allison

    I LOVE this recipe. I altered a bit using less ricotta and only 6 eggs to make it a little more Weight Watcher friendly for me, but I make it all the time this time of year. It’s perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. And it microwaves well for reheating if you’re taking it to work as a leftover.

  43. elsa

    Krystal – you can substitute tofu for the eggs – there is a great Eggless tofu spinach quiche recipe on All-Recipes that should give you an idea of quantity.

  44. Lucy

    What kind of bread do you use or do you recommend?

    We use freshly baked French or Italian loaf bread. ~Elise

  45. morgaine

    Something similar but a lot lighter for those who don’t want eggs: just a few layers of sliced zucchini and mozzarella, topped with a little salt, oregano and olive oil. In the oven for about half an hour until it smells good and makes a thin crust. Enjoy!

  46. stile mediterraneo italy

    Elise, in Puglia (Southern Italy) we make a very similar dish called Tiella: we use the same ingredients but we also add rice and mussels. It is soooo good!

  47. Monica

    I made this recipe for my family for dinner (my, my husband, my 5 year old and my 6 year old). Everyone loved it! I think I am going to make it for breakfast/brunch next time but we’re going to try adding some sage pork sausage to it. Thanks for the wonderful recipe!

  48. Teresa

    This worked as a quick weeknight dinner. Thanks!

  49. Amber

    Decided to add one cup of milk to the recipe rather than soak the bread. Other than that no changes, and we loved it. Will definitely make again.

  50. Mother of Pearl

    I was just at a church dinner and was everyone was raving over a certain zucchini casserole. Later, I was looking at your site and realized – this is what that casserole was!

    So very good!

  51. Shannan

    You can freeze zuke. Cut into 1/2″ (or as you like) sized disks (do wash, don’t peel). Dump a load in to boiling water for 3 min. or 2ish steam to blanch. Dump blanched into icewater to shock, Dump well drained zuke into ziplocks. Squeeze air out. Put in freezer.
    OR
    Grate zuke (w/skins) and put it in the ziplock. Ditch air and put that in freezer. Use this for baking or for latke style cakes.

    People used to run when they saw me in the summer… wait, they still do. This year I am the greens, cherries and very soon apricot lady. Who runs from apricots? Crazy people!

  52. Sheila

    Made this recipe for dinner the day it posted. Lovely!! Thanks, Elise.

  53. Karen

    Absolutely delicious! It goes together quickly and is a very satisfying meatless dinner. Thanks, Elise. This recipe is a keeper!

  54. Erin

    Thank you for a fantastic recipe. I used gruyere and parmesan, a little less than the recipe states–it was still delicious! I WILL be making this again. I think it tastes better on day 2…the flavors have more time to mingle.

  55. Kris

    Made this and loved it! I want to make it again when my in-laws come to visit. Would it be ok to make it the night before, stick it in the fridge, then bake it the next morning? Or would the bread break down too much? The leftovers from this get better by the day, so I’m hoping the flavors would just meld overnight in the fridge.

    I’ve made other breakfast casseroles the night before and baked it in the morning without a problem. I’m guessing that you could do the same with this one. ~Elise

  56. Stacy

    Have you ever made this the night before and then put it in the fridge and cooked it in the morning?

    I have made other breakfast casseroles that way, but not this one. I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. ~Elise

  57. Sona

    Hi, I’m allergic to tomatoes, but would love to make this recipe. Would the overall flavor and texture be affected if I do not include them? Do you recommend another vegetable substitute for the tomatoes? Thanks!

    Hi Sona, you try leaving out the tomatoes and adding a bit of chopped roasted red bell pepper. In any case, the recipe will work out the best in the summer, when zucchini are in season. ~Elise

  58. Elaine M

    Made this yesterday for a book group mostly because I had all of the ingredients fresh from my CSA delivery. We found it to be rather bland (and we don’t do real spicy) It needs onions or something to perk it up. The bacon idea from someone who wrote in sounds good too.

  59. Sara

    Not a grower, but a LOVER of zucchini and all summer squash. I’m so thrilled to find all the recipes lurking in these comments. I’m going to come back and transcribe the whole lot of them!
    Thanks for providing a platform.

  60. Rachel

    I run a brunch club/underground restaurant in London and just tested this recipe as a possible menu item. Judging by how quickly we gobbled it up, I think it’s a goer! So summery and great for serving lots of people.

  61. fran

    Can you make this zucchini recipe without the bread or with a non carb substitute as my husband is not supposed to eat carbs due to blood sugar.

    This recipe requires bread, but I’m sure you can find a good zucchini casserole without bread recipe online elsewhere. ~Elise

  62. Mary

    This was delicious! Such a lovely dinner. I can see this making a nice light breakfast too.

  63. Nancy

    any chance I can prep this on Christmas eve and then cook in the morning??? thanks!

    I haven’t tried making it in advance. But I wouldn’t recommend making this in the winter. Too many ingredients are out of season and just won’t taste as good. ~Elise

  64. kime

    Like many others, my zucchini plant is already well over my head, for a Canadian gardener this is surprising since it’s only been in the ground for 2 months! As someone mentioned, zucchini relish is a great use for it, it’s delicious and easy to make. There is a commercial one by Willie’s (owned by Strubs) that is the standard where I live. It’s a sweet relish, reminiscent of bread and butter pickles.

  65. lmjrocko

    Just made this and it was awesome, but even better warmed up the next day. I didn’t soak my bread. I tossed the bread with my tomatoes with juice, then after tossing I mixed it in the egg mixture and let it sit for 10 minutes before baking. I also adjusted the recipe to use 12 eggs. I will be making this again and again. Yum!

  66. Linn

    Hi Elise, do I also need to squeeze excess moisture out of the grated zucchini? Thanks!

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