Eggplant isn’t the only vegetable that you can make alla parmigiana, fried and baked in layers with a light tomato sauce, mozzarella and grated parmesan cheese. Zucchini, another typical summer vegetable, also enjoys the same treatment. It is a fine way to exalt the sometimes rather bland vegetable. While the delicate taste of zucchini can get a bit lost in the sauce (literally), with all those delicious flavors, who cares? It’s a fine and tasty way to use up the last zucchini of the season.
You make the dish almost exactly as you would parmigiana di melanzane (Eggplant Parmesan), which we have featured before here at Memorie di Angelina, so I will not repeat the recipe. There are a few twists: I often don’t bother to salt and drain zucchini as I do eggplant, when making this or any other zucchini recipe, although many recipes do call for it. As with eggplant, size matters. Small, tender zucchini don’t need it; larger, seedy ones usually do. This late in the season, it might be a good idea.
And for this dish I decided not to use Angelina’s method of dipping the slices in flour and egg, but simply deep-fried the zucchini directly in oil. This ‘lightens’ the dish a bit, and emphasizes the taste of the other ingredients, in particular the tomato and cheese. When using this method (which is actually more popular these days than Angelina’s old-fashioned method) you need to be more stingy with the liquid ingredients, since there is no batter to soak up the excess. So use your tomato sauce sparingly and make sure to drain and pat dry the mozzarella (which can be quite watery) before using. If all else fails and the dish is watery when it is otherwise done, continue baking in a moderate oven for, say, 10-15 minutes more, to allow the excess liquid to evaporate.
Otherwise, proceed exactly as you would for eggplant, following the master recipe.
While it won’t replace Eggplant Parmesan in my pantheon of favorite dishes of all time, I do like zucchini made this way an awful lot. The sweetness of the zucchini balances nicely with the acidity of the tomato—which is one reason why zucchini and tomatoes are so often paired—and the mozzarella, well… is always delicious. Try to find smallish zucchini, which are sweeter and tastier, but this is a dish that (with the precautions mentioned above) that will accommodate perfectly well older, larger vegetables.