As I write this post, I’m still debating what to name today’s recipe. Originally, the dish was meant as a riff to my Roasted Eggplant Parmesan, swapping out meaty slices of summer’s all-star, zucchini for the thin slices of eggplant. But as I was looking at the rest of the ingredients through the lense of someone who has been writing recipes for a very long time, I realized that the ingredients are actually siblings with another summer staple, the Caprese Salad. You know, that ultimate combination of tomatoes, basil and creamy, fresh mozzarella that are enhanced with a pinch of flaky salt, a shower of cracked black pepper and your best extra virgin olive oil. Maybe a drizzle of syrupy balsamic if you are feeling fancy.
So, rather than just name this Grilled Zucchini Parmesan which would definitely increase its search engine optimization, I’ve named the recipe Grilled Zucchini Caprese instead. Most unfortunately, nobody is going to accidentally find the recipe through a google search, but maybe I will stick zucchini parmesan in the “keywords” of this post in hopes that random person in the middle of Europe finds their way to The Kitchen Scout, ha ha!
Speaking of that, one of my daughters has been egging me on to make more of my blog and has offered to help me in that effort. To be honest, I’m a little torn about it. First of all, it’s a tremendous amount of work to make that happen and while I’m not afraid of digging in, what has always driven me is authenticity. What a turn off to feel like you’re always being sold something which is how it feels sometimes when you read blogs or scroll through Instagram. Everyone’s hawking something and while I understand that may be a source of income, it can also be a big incentive for me to continue scrolling. I really don’t want to be that person.
But, it’s interesting when your adult daughter is encouraging you to take it to the next level and that statement needs to be assessed seriously because especially during this Covid era, our kids are still looking to us for guidance. Well, at least some of the time.
I read Glennon Doyle’s book, Untamed for my book group recently and in one of her many chapters about life she makes the analogy of parents being like the flight attendants on an airplane. When there is turbulence, who do we as passengers look to for how to react? The flight attendants. If they remain calm among the turbulence, that provides reassurance for the nervous passengers. Same too with parents – when there is turbulence in families or in life or the world as it is especially during this Covid-Era, it’s up to us as parents to remain calm and guide our “passengers” through.
I’m far from perfect and I would say it’s probably a good thing that I was never a flight attendant as I’m generally the one looking for reassurance, grabbing both arm rests and holding my breath during stormy skies.
But in all seriousness, I think about this analogy as I continue to parent my girls in real time – am I navigating our plane as best I can, leading by example, continuing to create an honest life that they could would be happy with down the road. I wonder.
In the meanwhile and until such time as we do any tweaks here on the blog which I will tell you about, I am going to keep on writing recipes and perhaps finding some engaging people to interview, also on my list, as I’m not actively dining out just yet so there probably won’t be any restaurant reviews for a bit.
Let’s get back to today’s recipe! It’s not highly sophisticated or tested repeatedly. I made it once but it was exactly as I imagined and a really tasty, alternative meatless Monday dinner. The recipe was just enough to feed 4 adults, but you could also serve it as a side dish to some grilled meats or even for lunch if you are feeling ambitious. There are a few steps, but nothing that takes too much of your time.
The main character is zucchini. I got about 3 good sized zucchini that I sliced lengthwise into about 1/2 inch planks. They shouldn’t be thin here – they need some heft both to stand up to the grill and to support the rest of the actors. I got 8 planks by slicing a smaller zucchini in half and the other 2 zucchini that were portly into 3 pieces.
Salt the zucchini and let them sit on paper towel about 20 minutes to release a bit of their water. Brush them with olive oil and grill for 4-5 minutes on both sides until just tender. They will continue to cook in the oven so you don’t want them mushy.
In the meanwhile, dice up some colorful cherry tomatoes. I used both red and yellow to make it pretty and toss those with some freshly minced garlic, some dried oregano, fresh basil, salt and pepper. Add some red chili flake if you want a touch of heat.
When the zucchini are done, lay them flesh side up on a baking sheet that you’ve spray with some non stick or covered with parchment paper. Carefully spoon the diced tomatoes along the length of the zucchini and then cover with mozzarella cheese. The final step is sprinkling them with a mixture of grated parmean and panko bread crumbs, followed by a drizzle of olive oil and a shower of salt and pepper.
Place in a 375 degree oven for about 15 minutes until the cheese is melted and run under the broiler if need be to brown the top further.
I made a little Israeli couscous to go with it, but you could serve it with a little orzo pasta or maybe even some rice. You choose!
Before the cheese…
My daughter’s suggestion – here are all the recipes on The Kitchen Scout that showcases zucchini! Until next time…