Got zucchini? At the end of summer, markets and gardens have it in abundance! Skip the bread and muffins and enjoy one of my favorite green vegetables in a light, easy zucchini casserole. It’s my take on a classic gratin, topped with a little gluten-free breadcrumbs and Parmesan. Delicious, crunchy, and a nice way to end summer.
Zucchini Casserole or Gratin Style
Here is the way I’ve been cooking zucchini lately; casserole or gratin style. While many recipes featuring zucchini bury it in cream and mounds of cheese, I keep this recipe light, crunchy and quick. Shallots, garlic and fresh herbs give it flavor. A little gluten-free breadcrumbs and Parmesan make the crisp topping.
Prep Your Vegetables
I use small zucchini that are about the length of my hand. Trim off the ends, then cut zucchini in half lengthwise. Cut the halves into thin half moons about. Cook the zucchini quickly in a hot pan with olive oil for just a few minutes until it is starting to brown a bit at the edges. Turn the heat down, add shallot and cook a minute or two, then add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds more. Stir in fresh herbs.
In case you are not familiar with shallots, let me just recommend that you should be. Always in my pantry, these petite members of the onion family and have a lovely sweet flavor.
A basic in classic French cooking, a shallot is sort of a cross between a garlic clove and an onion. Shallots have a brownish-coppery paper skin and look like a big garlic clove. Try using them in place of onions for many dishes. Even just a pinch of finely chopped shallot adds great flavor to a simple vinaigrette. Start cooking with them and you’ll become a fan too.
Use a Shallow Baking Dish
Pour zucchini into a shallow casserole baking dish.The one I use is an 8″x12″ oval and about 2 quarts. The key is to choose a shallow baking dish, no matter what shape, so everyone gets a good serving of the crunchy topping.
After pouring in the zucchini, top with a combination of gluten-free breadcrumbs and Parmesan. Pop under a hot broiler for a minute or two until golden and enjoy!
Homemade breadcrumbs are so much better than store bought and so easy to make. I keep a container in the fridge for quick use. Trim crusts from your bread of choice. I use gluten-free bread such as Udi’s Whole Grain bread or Trader Joe’s Brown Rice bread. Tear bread into chunks and place in a food processor. Process until finely chopped.
Place crumbs on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 300 degrees until golden and dry, about 12-14 minutes. Cool and use, refrigerate or freeze. I’ll do most of a loaf at once so I always have breadcrumbs to use in a gratin or to add crunch to simple vegetables.
This quick casserole, also know as a gratin, doesn’t smother the zucchini in heavy cheese or cream. It uses shallot, garlic and herbs for fresh, light flavor with an easy, crunchy topping sure to make even non-vegetable lovers take notice. I use a 2 quart shallow 8″ x 12″ oval baking dish but use whatever shape you have. The key is shallow so everyone gets a good serving of the crunchy topping. Be sure your dish is broiler-safe.
- 1 1/2 pounds (680 grams) zucchini (about 7 small)
- 1 large shallot, finely chopped
- 2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1-2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
- 2-3 teaspoons freshly chopped thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried)
- 1/3 cup toasted breadcrumbs (gluten-free or whole wheat)
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided use
- Adjust oven rack to the medium level or one level up and heat the broiler. Lightly oil a shallow 2 quart, broiler safe baking dish.
- Trim ends from zucchini, then cut them in half lengthwise. Chop zucchini halves into thin half moons about 1/2″ wide. Combine breadcrumbs and cheese along with 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil in a small bowl and stir together until well blended.
- Heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add zucchini to the pan and cook until it is softened and starting to brown at the edges, stirring and turning frequently. Sprinkle in the shallot and cook 1 minute. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds. Stir in herbs.
- Pour zucchini into baking dish and spread the crumb topping evenly over top. Broil until casserole has a golden crunchy top. Serve hot.