The truth is it is August and I have been barely cooking the past month. Mostly because of kids at home, trying to cram in all summer bucket list activities in the short 2 months, abundance of ready to eat summer produce and an inability to switch from reading a book to do house chores. The truth is the more I relax, the more I want to relax. The more I sleep, the more I need to sleep.
On the days that I have to catch up on laundry, tidying up and cooking, our meals have been super super simple. Like lazy baked zucchini parmesan with 5 ingredients simple. Honestly, I have been out of ideas what to cook. I go to a farmers market and there is so much of everything, I want to grab it all and nearly do, and then I don’t know what to cook.
So, our meals have been pasta, boiled potatoes, cut up veggies, quick pickles, smoothies, our own figs and pears, PB toasts, cereal, watermelon, BBQ and a lot of throw together soups. Honestly, that is it. Watermelon for lunch and take out wood oven pizza for a Saturday dinner. Even making chia pudding ahead sounds like a ton of work right now. I really have chillaxed, my friends. I have no idea what am I going to do when school starts – major summer hangover.
Since iFOODreal’s traffic and comments are significantly down, I assume you are not cooking much either. And good for you! It is still possible to eat clean without much cooking, most of the time. I wouldn’t feel guilty about a few slices of thin crust pizza but would skip an ice cream. Things like that make a difference.
So, this baked zucchini parmesan casserole recipe is super easy for summer, satisfying the craving for a flavourful comfort food and is perfect for using up those huge overgrown garden zucchini. You know the ones you are gifted by a neighbour or find at farmers market for $2. That is what happened to me – I couldn’t just walk by. Every summer I end up with this huge zucchini I don’t know what to do with.
However, last week I got greedy and made a huge mistake – I decided to make zucchini pancakes and it will never happen again. The stove’s mess wasn’t worth it. So, no zucchini pancakes coming on iFOODreal soon. I will stick to baked sliced zucchini instead. Seriously, poor Ukrainian women – they had to clean the stove so much since everything was panfried!
But this baked zucchini parmesan is super easy. Technically a lazy lighter version of zucchini Parmigiana. No breadcrumbs or a ton of cheese but still so flavourful and extremely simple.
All I did was panfried zucchini rounds in oil to release a bit of flavour first. Then added balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper straight to a jar with tomato sauce. So, no need to dirty another bowl. Yes, this recipe is that lazy. Then layered sliced zucchini with sauce and cheese in the same skillet and baked. That is it, my friends.
That is a beauty of a cast iron skillet – it is oven proof. You can laugh at me and I won’t judge you but I am starting to enjoy cast iron cooking just now. I know. Before I switched to ceramic non-stick skillets but they do not last long. I always thought cast iron is lame because it asks for a lot of oil and is hard to wash.
Slowly but surely I came to a conclusion it is not that much oil and what is wrong with a bit of quality avocado or coconut oil anyways?! We learnt healthy fats are good for us. Plus I am finding washing a skillet without soap is a good lazy thing to do. It just stays oily forever = awesome.
So, that is all about your next dinosaur zucchini project. On a personal note and you are welcome to skip this part because I know, I know moms love to talk and care about their own children only, pretty much. This is for my personal memories when in nursing home.
My oldest one turned 10. It is a first big double digit number which is a big deal for him and I remember was for me too (I got my first real watch). So, I tried to make this day extra special for him since being born on August 4th truly sucks – all your friends are away and you can’t have a birthday party. What were me and Alex thinking in November, seriously?! Idiots. We will have a party later this month. Mine is August 10th and I remember how it was. But even if I would have been born in October… I never had any party except only one my grandma threw for me when I turned 10.
So, I woke up and made him chocolate chip pancakes with white flour and even drove and bought whipped cream to go on top. And even pulled out Holiday edition sprinkles. This junk is a big deal for me, my friends. But I said “FINE!”. Then I even let him buy ice cream from an ice cream truck passing our house – first time for my kids. I know, I am a moron mom haha. But I made a kid’s birthday memorable, right?! Maybe next year I will take him to Mcdonald’s for lunch.
Then he was super stoked with his present – brand new hockey helmet with clear face cage which cost an arm and a leg. Considering, he wore cheap used helmet for the last 4 years I assume it was time I spend money on a legit helmet. Which is adult size adjustable to almost Alex’s head. Good deal! I am really good at combining what my kids want to have and I have to buy for them. But not crazy like buying new runners like my mom did one Christmas for me. Last year it was a room remodel present. But with 40″ TV we got for free signing a cable contract. Win-win. Then we went out for the fattiest nicest Olive Garden dinner. Me – I had tilapia piccata. Yes, it was farmed. Sigh.
So, it was a great-great birthday for my first born child which I still have hard time to believe is mine and is 10! I still feel 24 and am amazed at an amount of responsibility I dove into 10 years ago on a hot August night. Not knowing what it was at all (that is a good thing because otherwise I would be raising horses) and how hard first year was for me. I will never forget how I wanted to throw out a crying 3 weeks old Kyle at 4 AM out the open window while Alex was sleeping. Yes, it was that bad for me. I am glad I didn’t haha. Funny borderline scary. I know. I am not good with babies. I mean I am but lack of help and sleep took a toll on me. No wonder I still can’t grasp I have a 10 year old who survived his mother bahaha.
Anyways, good memories for me and a lazy baked parmesan zucchini for you come out from this post.
Until next time…
- 1 huge zucchini, sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
- 15 oz can tomato sauce, low sodium*
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 oz Parmesan cheese, grated
- 3/4 tsp himalayan pink salt
- Ground black pepper, to taste
- Coconut or avocado oil, for frying
- Preheat large cast iron skillet on medium heat and swirl oil to coat. Panfry zucchini slices in batches until browned a bit on each side (1-2 minutes per side and reduce time as skillet gets hotter towards the end) and transfer to a platter.
- In the meanwhile, preheat oven to 425 degrees F. To a can of tomato sauce, add balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper; stir carefully to mix.
- Using the same skillet layer the dish in 3 layers - zucchini topped with tomato sauce and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese, reserving more sauce and cheese for the top layer. Reserve that last layer of cheese.
- Bake on the lower rack uncovered for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese and bake for 3 more minutes. Serve hot, warm or cold. Anything works. With any whole grain, meat or fish.
*Use less salt if using not a low sodium tomato sauce.