— This summer, we are growing tomatoes due to some extra pots that needed to be filled—as good a reason as any, I suppose. We plant herbs every year --things like basil, thyme, mint, chives, Italian parsley and rosemary. Until this summer we have never planted tomatoes because clients always bring plenty to my office. (A shout out to the best clients in the world.)
Now, we are relishing the fruits of our labor. Recently, Liz overwhelmed me with our harvest of two really small, albeit deliciously sweet, tomatoes. It was then that she told me they were cherry tomato plants. Bummer.
Anyway, this time of the year gardeners will be harvesting lots of zucchini and tomatoes. A few years ago Liz came up with a fantastic side dish that always receives raves. So for this week's column, I officially turn over the keyboard to Liz.
Liz, it's all yours.
Thanks, Dave-O-King-of-BBQ (that's what he likes to be called at home...okay, not really, but that would be funny.) This first summer veggie side is one of our family favorites. I've been making it for years and came up with it when we had an abundance of tomatoes, zucchini, and basil on hand. We call it “Zucchini Casserole” because I never came up with anything more creative, I guess, but once you taste it, you'll call it “Delicious!”
Delicious Zucchini Casserole
4 medium zucchini or yellow squash (or a combo of both) -- sliced to 1/4” thickness
3 medium size ripe tomatoes, slice to 1/4” thickness
1 large sweet onion, sliced thinly
¼ c. fresh basil or 2 tsp. of dried basil
3/4-1 c. shredded parmesan cheese (you could also use shredded, packaged Italian cheese)
salt & pepper to taste
2-3 T. olive oil
(A disclaimer here: the amounts listed above are approximated ... just be sure to have enough zucchini and tomato for two layers. If you like more cheese .... add it! You can't mess this up. Honestly.)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly butter an 11” X 14” casserole dish. Cover bottom of casserole with a layer of zucchini (I overlap slightly), lightly salt and pepper, and then begin layering in this order: ½ of the onion, tomato slices, basil (I use kitchen shears to snip directly over the tomato,) and then sprinkle ½ of the parmesan cheese over this layer. Repeat Cover with foil and place in preheated oven. After 20-30 minutes remove from oven and discard foil; next, carefully tilt the dish a bit and remove most of the liquid (I use a baster.) Drizzle olive oil over top and return to oven for another 10- 15 minutes until the top is nicely browned.
Serve hot with your favorite grilled meat and a chilled garden salad. You and your family will love it!
Dave Lobeck is a barbecue chef from Sellersburg, Ind., who writes a column for CNHI News Service. Visit his website at www.BBQ-My-Way.com