When I lived in Italy, I watched my Nonna Annunziata create zucchine parmigiana when she didn’t have any eggplant. Now, remember that zucchine are a watery vegetable and can taste bland. This means that zucchine obtain a bolder flavor from whatever ingredients they’re coated with. In this recipe, they’re combined with tomato sauce and freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese. Can zucchine get any more exciting than this?

Prep time: 30 minutes
Bake time: 25 to 30 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6 (as main dish); 6 to 8 (as side dish)

1 to 1-3/4 cups vegetable oil (for frying)
1 to 1-1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
3 to 4 large eggs, beaten with 3/4 teaspoon salt and dash ground black pepper
4 to 5 medium-large zucchine, tips cut off and discarded
Fresh Tomato Basil Sauce (previously published on this blog & found in index under Salad Dressings, Salsas & Savory Sauces), made up to two days ahead
1/2 to 2/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese

1. Pour 1 cup of the oil in a 10 or 12-inch frying pan; set aside on a cold stove burner.

2. To avoid splatters on stove, cut off and discard handles and bottom of a large brown paper bag. Cut one side of bag open, placing it over burner. Cut out a hole in bag which is the size of the burner, plus one extra inch. Place bag with hole over burner – the remaining parts of bag will cover and protect the stove from oil splatters.

3. In the meantime, cut zucchine crosswise, in half. Cut each piece lengthwise, into 1/4-inch slices; set aside.

4. Place the flour in an 8-inch wide, shallow bowl.

5. Beat the eggs, salt and pepper in another bowl of the same size; set aside.

6. Heat the oil in frying pan on high setting and, simultaneously, coat 6 zucchine slices in flour.

7. Shake off excess flour and, using two forks, coat the zucchine with egg mixture.

8. When oil is hot, lower heat to medium-high and gently place coated zucchine slices in pan.

9. Fry 1 to 2 minutes per side or until golden; turn zucchine over once and repeat frying instruction. If oil diminishes, add more to frying pan, heat and continue frying.

10. With two forks or slotted spoon, transfer the fried zucchine slices to a platter coated with paper towels.

11. Continue coating and frying instructions for remaining zucchine, transferring each batch to a layer of paper towels set over bottom layer of fried zucchine. Set aside.

12. Preheat oven to 350°F.In a 12 X 12-inch square baking dish, spread about 2/3 cup warmed Fresh Tomato Basil Sauce.

13. Place one layer of fried zucchine over sauce.

14. Spread 1/3 cup sauce over zucchine. Sprinkle with some grated cheese.

15. Repeat layer assembly of Zucchine Parmigiana until all zucchine have been used.

16. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

Serve immediately as a main dish, accompanied by a green salad.

Alternatively, serve Zucchine Parmigiana as a side dish to meat, chicken or fish.

Wine Pairing Suggestion: Chianti (red).

Text & Photograph ©2012 Nancy DeLucia Real