In my parent's 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
- 6-8 eggs
- 1 cup ricotta cheese (about 245 g)
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (130 g)
- 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, about 390 g)
- 1 1/2 cups chopped plum tomatoes (from 4-5 fresh tomatoes, about 370 g),
- 1/2 cup sliced fresh basil (from about 20 leaves)*
- 4 cups cubed day-old bread (from about 4 slices, rustic French or Italian bread works best)
- Extra virgin 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.
Make the egg cheese base
In a large bowl beat the eggs. Add the ricotta and beat until smooth. Mix in the grated Parmesan cheese, Tabasco, salt and pepper.
Prep the vegetables and bread, add to egg mixture
Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). 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.
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 (175°C). The casserole should puff up and brown lightly. If it hasn't browned enough after 30 minutes at that temp, increase the heat to 425°F (220°C) 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.
Sephardic Flavors - by Joyce Goldstein