Last week while teaching a class on healthy cooking, a number of the women in the class were interested in learning exactly how you roast vegetables, which is actually incredibly easy once you get down the basics. In my opinion, there is no better, or easier, way to cook veggies.
Broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, squash, and sweet potatoes get roasted most often in my kitchen, and I can’t get enough of the sweet, toasty flavor roasting imparts on vegetables. Roasting is usually done with fairly dry heat with just a bit of oil or other liquid in a pan, baking sheet, or baking dish or some sort. It can also be done at a slightly higher heat in the oven. Most of the time when I’m roasting veggies, it’s done between 400 – 450*F.
As we speak, I’m posting from Florida. Meant to post this a few days earlier, but was having so much fun in the sun and sand that I completely forgot! Back to regular life tomorrow.
Roasted Parmesan Zucchini
*2 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
*1 Tbsp. olive oil
*1/2 tsp. kosher salt (or 1/4 tsp. table salt)
*1/2 tsp. ground cumin
*1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
*1 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
*Preheat oven to 400*F.
*Toss zucchini with olive oil. Place in a pan or baking dish. Sprinkle with salt, cumin, and black pepper. Place in the oven and roast for 10 minutes, tossing once half way through. After 10 minutes, sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over the zucchini and bake 2 minutes more to melt the cheese.
*Remove from oven and serve immediately.
Yesterday, I made a trip to the farmer’s market in Valley Junction. There’s something about wandering through a bustling farmer’s market that I find therapeutic. Typically I avoid large crowds like the plague. But living in Iowa, I have learned how very important it is to savor the last few weeks of warm weather before mother nature’s mood turns frosty.
Weaving through the stands and trucks lining Valley Junction’s Main Street, I had the sudden urge to eat vegetables, and lots of them. For a moment, while looking at a crate of heirloom tomatoes, I thought I could live life a happy vegetarian. That moment came to an abrupt end when I smelled the wafting aromas of tacos and fajitas being sold down the street.
But as wonderful as it all was, my purpose is not to give a complete review of the Valley Junction Farmer’s Market. I intended to talk about dinner tonight: Zucchini Parmesan. Vegetables in my kitchen are usually prepared with nothing more than a bit of butter or olive oil, salt, and pepper. Zucchini demands a different treatment. Long adored by Italian cooks, I felt the best way to do this squash justice was to coat slices in Parmesan cheese and layer it with marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese.
*Preheat oven to 375F.
*Dip slices of zucchini in beaten egg, then coat in Parmesan cheese. Layer half of coated zucchini slices in 8×8 baking dish. Evenly spread half of marinara sauce over zucchini, followed by remaining zucchini, remaining marinara sauce, and mozzarella cheese.
*Bake in oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until zucchini is tender. During last 3 minutes of baking, switch oven to broil. Remove from oven. Allow to rest 5 minutes, then cut into slices.
Though this dish could easily stand on its own, I supplemented my Zucchini Parmesan with boneless, skinless chicken breast for a bit of protein. After cutting the chicken breast into slices, I cooked them in a skillet with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil until no pink remained, about 6 to 8 minutes.
So for those of you who live in a state where warm weather weekends are coming to an close, get out to your local farmer’s market and be inspired by the last bit of summer produce.