Zucchini parmigiana

Neil Perry
Parma for vegetarians: Zucchini works beautifully in this dish.
Parma for vegetarians: Zucchini works beautifully in this dish. Photo: William Meppem
Dietary
Vegetarian

Even the most carnivorous friend will be distracted by the delectable flavours in this mouthwatering, meat-free meal. Alternatively, this parmigiana is great with roast beef or chicken as a side dish.

Ingredients

1kg ripe vine-ripened tomatoes, scored

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for shallow-frying

1 brown onion, diced

1 1/2 tbsp finely chopped garlic

3 tbsp small oregano leaves, chopped

1/2 cup milk

4 free-range eggs

1 cup plain flour, seasoned

6 large green zucchinis, sliced lengthways 3mm thick

200g parmesan, grated

200g mozzarella, sliced

1/2 cup loosely packed basil leaves, torn

1 cup stale sourdough bread, roughly chopped

Method

Blanch tomatoes in a pot of boiling salted water for 30-60 seconds. Remove and plunge into ice-cold water. Peel away skins, de-seed and dice.

In a frying pan, heat 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil on a medium heat. Add onion and salt and sauté for five minutes. Add 1 tbsp of garlic and continue to cook until caramelised, then add the diced tomatoes, 2 tbsp oregano leaves and pepper. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook until tomatoes break down and sauce thickens (about 20 minutes). Set aside.

Whisk together milk, eggs, a pinch of salt and a grind of pepper. Place flour in a shallow bowl. Heat some oil on a medium heat in a large frying pan for shallow-frying. Working in batches, lightly flour the zucchini slices, then dip in egg mix and fry each side until golden (about a minute each side). Drain on paper towel.

Preheat oven to 180°C. Brush some oil on the inside of a 2 1/2-litre baking dish. Layer some of the tomato sauce mix on the bottom, top with a layer of zucchini, then with layers of parmesan, mozzarella and basil. Repeat until all ingredients are used, finishing with a layer of cheese. Bake for 40 minutes or until golden.

Process bread and remaining garlic together to form breadcrumbs. Heat 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil in a frying pan and cook crumbs over a low heat until golden and crisp, set aside to cool. Stir through remaining oregano.

Garnish dish with crispy breadcrumbs and serve.


Photography by William Meppem. Styling by Hannah Meppem. Food preparation by Nick Banbury