I have to admit this dish is probably not weeknight friendly, unless like me, you often eat dinner around 8pm. I really think the flavors in this dish are worth it, it’s great to make on a Sunday afternoon and if you have a friend to help you the time will go by fast. The ingredients actually come together fairly quickly while the sauce is simmering. We grow a variety of summer squash on the farm, so each share box usually has yellow, zucchini, or one of our heirloom varieties. Any and all of them will work in this dish. If you must cook gluten-free, you don’t have to back away from this recipe – I make a gluten free version with homemade breadcrumbs and GF flour all the time. The first thing to do is put together a batch of our simple marinara or your favorite marinara.
While the sauce is simmering make breadcrumbs with toasted bread, or use panko. Set up the flour, breadcrumbs, and beaten eggs next to the stove. Heat the oil, and dredge each piece of squash through the egg, flour, back through the egg, and then in the breadcrumbs. Fry the squash 1-2 minutes per side, then drain on a large plate lined with a paper towel.
Keep working in batches until the squash is done. The marinara should be just about done as well. When the marinara is finished, ladle about a cup into a large baking pan. Layer the squash over the sauce and top with the remaining sauce. Sprinkle with the parmesan before baking. For a richer dish add fresh mozzarella or dollops of ricotta cheese, but this dish tastes great with the fresh sauce and parmesan.
I prefer my squash a little on the firm side. If you like softer squash you’ll want to increase cooking time for ten minutes. Let cool for about 10 minutes before slicing.
Summer Squash Parmesan
2 medium or 3 small summer squash or zucchini
1 cup flour, gluten free if necessary
2 cups homemade breadcrumbs, gluten free if necessary, or panko
3 eggs, beaten
3 – 4 cups marinara sauce (recipe follows)
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
canola oil for frying
salt + pepper
Slice summer squash lengthwise into 1/4 inch slices. Season squash slices with salt and pepper. Set up a station with the eggs, flour, and breadcrumbs. Shallow baking dishes work well for the eggs and flour, and the breadcrumbs can be spread out on a large plate.
Heat the canola oil over high heat. When the oil is shimmering dredge each squash slice through the egg, then the flour, then back in the egg, and finally press in the breadcrumbs. Fry about 1 – 2 minutes per side until breadcrumbs are golden. Fry in batches until squash is done. Drain cooked squash on a paper towels.
Preheat the oven to 350F. Ladle about 1 cup of sauce or more if necessary to cover the bottom of a large baking dish. Spread the squash in two even layers over the sauce, then top with remaining sauce. Sprinkle parmesan over the sauce and bake at 350F for 20 – 30 minutes depending on how soft you like your squash. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.
Variations. Top with 1 cup grated fresh mozzarella or dot with ricotta cheese before baking.
1 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes in sauce
3 spring onions or 1 large onion
6 cloves garlic
1/2 fennel bulb (optional)
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 cup basil leaves loosely packed and minced
1/4 cup parsley leaves minced(optional)
1 tsp sea salt + more if necessary
fresh ground black pepper
Coarsely chop fennel, onions, and garlic. Heat olive oil in a stock pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Sautè onions, fennel, garlic, and one or two basil leaves until the onions and fennel are softened. Add the wine to pot, stirring to scrape any bits off the bottom. When the wine is reduced by half add the tomatoes with sauce, and puree with an immersion blender. Add salt and a few grind of black pepper. Simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally until sauce is thickened. Add basil and parsley if using. Taste and adjust salt and pepper if necessary.
Serving suggestions. Toss with cooked pasta, and freshly grated parmesan. Use in lasagna, summer squash parmesan, or other baked pasta dishes.