Zesty Zucchini Gratin

Zucchinis have invaded my subconscious.  They are everywhere and will not let up.  It reminds me of when I tried to jog 6 miles on a treadmill for the first time and compared it to Tartarus.  Am I really making a dent in this harvest?

I have a measly 2 plants, and for the past 3 weeks I’ve harvested between 6 and 9 zooks (my term of endearment) each week!  My grandma says, “Zucchinis don’t forget to grow.”  They are truly a plant for the novice gardeners.  Zucchinis have the ability to boost one’s self esteem like a good bosom buddy.

This recipe got its inspiration from a blog called In Erika’s Kitchen.  I like how her recipe wasn’t the swimming-in-cream-French-style gratin.  It was simple: zooks, cheese, bread crumbs, bake.  Still…I’m not the kind of girl to follow an already beaten path.  I wanted to spice it up a bit, so I added a couple of spices and used pepper jack instead of mozzarella.

Printable: Zesty Zucchini Gratin

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Prep you baking dish.  I’m using a 9 x 13 inch glass one.  You can use cooking spray (the clean way) or a little bit of olive oil that you swish around with your fingers (the dirty way or a great job for a kid).

Prep your zooks (zucchinis).  Slice them to make circles about 1/2 inch thick.  1/2 inch is about as thick as a magazine.

Grate up about 2 cups of pepper jack cheese.  I love this cheese and its little flecks of chili peppers.  Definitely a surprise on your tongue.

However, pepper jack cheese alone is never enough spice goodness for me, so I added a jalapeno.  To tame down the spiciness, just cut out the seeds and membranes using your knife.  See exhibit A.

We’re going to cut the jalapenos into long thin slices.  Then dice them up into tiny pieces, about the size of their seeds- you don’t want people with a dainty tongue to get caught with a chunk of jalapeno in their mouth (though I love that).

That’s all the prep we need.  Thank you, thank you very much.

Did you prep your baking dish?  If you haven’t, I’ll wait…

OK, make a layer of zucchini, overlapping each one with the previous one.

Sprinkle about half the cheese and half the jalapenos over the top.

Sprinkle the spices.  1/2 teaspoon of paprika (the brick red color) and 1/2 teaspoon of chili powder (the earthy colored one).  Layer 1 complete.

Arrange a second layer of zucchini in the same way as the first, overlapping.

Add the rest of the cheese and jalapeno.

Shake the bread crumbs over the top.  I had panko (Japanese style bread crumbs; they give more crunch), but any kind will suffice.Cover the pan with tin foil.  Neat trick- coat the foil with cooking spray to avoid the cheese cooking off onto the foil.

Bake for 35-40 minutes.  For the last 7-10 minutes, remove the foil to create a crispy top.  Chow down and congratulate yourself on yet another dent into the mountain of zucchini you have.

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