Zucchini Parmigiana

When I’m trying to cut calories and eat as healthily as possible, I need lots of warm, comforting food to stave off any feelings of deprivation (or desperation). This really delivers. Hot, bubbly, full of vegetables, and ready in about an hour.

I don’t claim any particular credentials in nutritional science, but I reckon a third of the dish is about 400 calories, plus whatever bread you’re swiping the plate with. As you may have gathered by now, I don’t go in for diets that cut out bread or cheese (or anything, for that matter).

Feeds 2 – 3

Ingredients

3 medium zucchini / courgette

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

2 large cloves garlic, minced

½ tsp dried oregano

Pinch of dried chilli flakes

500g passata or crushed tomatoes (approx. 2 cups)

1 tsp sugar

200g grated mozzarella

Parmesan, for grating

Small bunch of basil

To serve: crusty bread

Method:

Slice the zucchini into thick strips, about 3 or 4 slices per zucchini depending on thickness. (Too thin and it will fall apart during the initial cooking.) Brush each side with a little olive oil and sprinkle over some salt and pepper. BBQ or griddle the zucchini slices until softened and charred on both sides. Remove and set aside.

Tip: If you haven’t got a gas BBQ, it’s really not worth firing up a charcoal one for this; either blister in a griddle pan or bake under the grill/broiler on a high heat for a bit of colour.

While the veg is charring, make the tomato sauce. Add a splash of olive oil, the garlic, oregano, chilli flakes and a pinch of salt and pepper to a cold saucepan. Turn the heat on to medium and cook for a minute or two, until the garlic sizzles. Add the passata and sugar and bring to a bubble. Cook for a couple of minutes, then turn off the heat and set aside.

To assemble, start by adding about ¼ of the tomato sauce to a medium-sized baking dish. Build in two layers in total of zucchini, tomato sauce, whole basil leaves, mozzarella and parmesan. Finish with a layer of parmesan.

Make ahead: At this stage, the prepared parmigiana can be covered in cling film and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature before baking.

To bake, heat the oven to 400F / 200C / 190C Fan. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for a further 15 minutes. Let stand a couple minutes before serving alongside some crusty bread.

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