I crack myself up. Inspiration hits me in the strangest places, often times when I least expect it. Grocery shopping is something my daughter and I typically do together, and she is my trusted partner in crime during most of my “experiments” in the kitchen.
On an afternoon of errand-running, we found ourselves standing in line at the counter awaiting our next weekly installment of school-lunchmeat. Simultaneously, we spied a new item in the deli case-it looked like ascending towers of zucchini parm.
Now, we love our zucchini parm; the kid’s Nana makes it every summer with fresh veggies from the garden, and she taught me her methods, as well. It has become a summer-time staple. But this presentation was very unique, with the zucchini slices stacked in three layers with ricotta and marinara sauce between them. It definitely gave us a pause, as we stood crouched at the counter for a full three minutes, awestruck, studying the culinary creation before us. We were speechless.
How blessed am I that my offspring gets as excited about food as I do? Ah, the wonders of DNA.
Without a word, I turned on my heel and headed swiftly off to the checkout; I could still hear my little girls voice behind me, pleading with me to stop, because we had to “buy these!” But I was already a million miles away in my own head-plotting.
I’d been thinking about different preparations for that last zucchini from the garden, holding out for just the right recipe. I knew now what it was going to be, my next recipe in the October Pumpkin Series: Zucchini Parm Towers With Pumpkin Ricotta!
If you've ever had pumpkin-stuffed ravioli's, this is not too far off. I used a simple jarred marinara sauce, but I could easily see using a cream sauce, and topping with roasted walnuts. Overall, this dish took just 15 minutes prep time and yielded 6 servings-plenty for a large family like ours. The meal turned out delish, light and flavorful with a little tinge of cinnamon-I hope you and yours enjoy it as much as we did!
Zucchini Parm Towers With Pumpkin Ricotta
For the zucchini:
Use 1 large zucchini
2 c. bread crumbs, Italian style or panko
salt and pepper to taste
3-4 T. olive oil
*jar of marinara or your favorite red sauce
For the ricotta filling:
2 eggs, beaten
2 c. ricotta
½ c. grated parmesan cheese
1 c. pumpkin puree
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. garlic
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. nutmeg
pepper (to taste)
handful fresh chopped parsley
*Slice zucchini into ½ inch slices. Put oil in large non-stick skillet, set heat to medium. Beat eggs in a bowl, and set aside, put bread crumbs in a separate bowl. Dip each zucchini slice, first in the egg mixture, then in the bread crumbs, then into the hot oil. When browned, flip and brown the other side. Add oil to pan if it gets absorbed, (you may need to do this a few times).
While zucchini slices are cooking, make the ricotta filling by mixing all of the ingredients together in a separate bowl.
To assemble the towers:
As the zucchini slices are coming out of the pan, make three stacks according to size: large, medium and small. Now begin assembling, place large slices in the bottom of a glass casserole dish until the bottom is covered completely with the large slices; add a spoonful of marinara sauce to each one, and a spoonful of ricotta, followed by the next layer. Continue with zucchini slice, sauce and filling until there are three layers of zucchini slices. Top with a final dollop of ricotta.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, and serve garnished with fresh shaved parmesan and a side of crusty bread. Enjoy!