Monday, April 5, 2010

26. Diane's Italian-Style Zucchini Casserole, (V) (G)

After WWII, all parents were more than glad to put the war years behind them. Suburban mothers and fathers felt they had enough to do with child rearing and socializing. As modern mothers embraced the time-saving conveniences of shopping for food at local grocery stores, backyard gardens were deemed 'old-fashioned' and were rarely planned or planted.





At the tail end of the 60s, however, hippie types grabbed onto the idea of going back-to-nature and
living-off-the-land; some even went off the grid completely. Exuberant folk made their own soap, chopped wood and used it for cooking and heating.




Digging up ground for a garden was a natural extension of  the back-to-nature lifestyle and it even caught on with people living in the mainstream neighborhoods.





Gardens popped up all over the country and so did the easy-to-grow zucchini. This deep, green vegetable was a blessing and a curse; cute, green squash fingers would appear almost every morning.


The squash over-abundance made everyone more creative as they tried to figure out what to do with all that green stuff. Recipes ran the gamut from zucchini bread to zucchini pickles and everything in-between.





One of my favorites is Zucchini Casserole, Italian Style. It is an amazing blend of flavors that raises the zucchini to a whole new level of enjoyment.





Diane's Italian Style Zucchini Casserole,









 





1 or 2 zucchini sliced very thinly crosswise (a mandolin slicer works well for this step)
1 onion, sliced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can stewed tomatoes
Oregano (to taste)
Basil (to taste)
Salt and pepper to taste
Mozzarella cheese

Heat a large pan on med-high; add olive oil to cover bottom of pan. Sauté zucchini slices in the hot olive oil, stirring frequently but gently. Add minced garlic halfway through cooking process; the zucchini should be translucent when this step is finished.

Put tomatoes in a small bowl and break up with a fork. Add seasonings and mix well. Pour the tomato mixture into the pan with the zucchini and mix gently. Remove from heat and pour into a casserole dish and bake 30-40 min. at 350 degrees. At the end of the cooking time, sprinkle cheese thickly on top of zucchini mixture, put dish back into the oven until cheese melts. Remove and let sit for 5 minutes before serving. 

Microwave directions: Put partially covered casserole dish in the microwave and cook HIGH for 10 minutes. Add cheese, cover and cook 1-2 minutes more or until cheese melts.



Note: This is a wonderful side dish with chicken, fish and pork.

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