Mediterranean Monday: Italian Zucchini Tomato Bake

Hi Friends!

What a beautiful weekend! We couldn’t have asked for more perfect weather on Saturday–mid-80’s, sunshine and low humidity! I got up and went straight outside to get the yard work done. I pulled copious amounts of crabgrass from the landscaping in the front yard, then decided it’s about time I install some pavers between the grass and the mulch to stop its spreading. I have landscape fabric down, but the crabgrass grows right on top of it in the mulch. One of these days the Vinca will take over and I won’t have to fuss with it anymore. For now, though, I’ve given myself yet another landscaping project for the upcoming fall.

After the weeds were pulled and the grass was mowed, the boys and I made a beeline for the beach for the afternoon. I was hoping to take some squirrels with me to release in a new home far away from my tomatoes, but they didn’t take the bait I had set in the live traps I borrowed from Grandpa. I guess my yard is temporarily off their radar since they’ve stolen all of the sizeable tomatoes, so they went on to ravage someone else’s yard. While I was in the carport helping Logan raise his bicycle seat, I watched one of them come bouncing across the street into my neighbors yard with a red tomato in its grubby little jaws. Which it ate about a one-inch hole out of, then left the rest to rot. These squirrels are grating on my nerves in an unimaginable way!

Now another week has begun and I’m not free to haul off the neighborhood pests to wooded grounds far, far away, so I had to unset the traps and wait to try again this weekend. I’ve also decided that next year I will be building a raised garden bed, with a fully enclosed section for the tomato plants. Just in case any new squirrels decide to make their home in my back yard! For now, at least, I might stand a chance of getting a ripe tomato before the end of summer.

In the meantime, I have a produce drawer that is full to bursting and needed to use up some veggies before they went bad. I picked up a large container of zucchini at the produce stand in Perryville, and still had four left this weekend. I also had a full container of grape tomatoes, and about half of a block of tomato basil mozzarella cheese left from when Amy was in town. I decided to get creative and put together a yummy summer side dish!

Italian Zucchini Tomato Bake

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium zucchini
  • 1 quart of grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 4oz of mozzarella cheese
  • fresh herbs–basil, oregano, thyme, etc.
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Spray a 9×13 glass baking dish with olive oil spray
  2. Chop zucchini into large chunks
  3. Cut tomatoes in half lengthwise
  4. Finely chop fresh herbs
  5. Toss all of the above in the baking dish with the minced garlic
  6. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then bake in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes
  7. While this is baking, cut the mozzarella into cubes
  8. When finished baking, add mozzarella and let sit until cheese begins to soften and melt

The one tweak I might make to this the next time I do it is to wait and add the tomatoes when it’s about halfway done baking, because they definitely softened up much more quickly than the zucchini, and were almost shriveled up by the time it was finished baking, leaving lots of juice in the bottom of the pan. I guess that just comes with the territory of trial-and-error style cooking without a recipe!

This would make an awesome one-dish recipe as well, by adding some grilled chicken breast and serving over a bed of brown rice. I will definitely by trying it like this the next time around! It can also be easily turned from Italian to Greek, simply by adding some kalamata olives and swapping out the mozzarella for feta cheese!

Happy eating!

Love,
Loren

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