Zucchini is now one of my favorite vegetables. It took a good long while, but now I love them. When my high school sweetheart and I were still together, we were eating zucchini almost nightly. This included in soups, curries, stir fries, but I was also making zucchini boats and such. I loved them!
I’ve never really thought of zucchinis as being all that great in terms of health. I mean, they are a veggie so there are some good things in there, but I’ve never put it up there with kale, chard, or broccoli. It was down there with mushrooms in my mind. You know what though? Both mushrooms and zucchini have quite the positive health benefits.
Zucchini has a very high content of antioxidants. It’s quite high in the antioxidants that aid with eye health. Honestly, it doesn’t seem to have done anything for my eyes, but ya know… that may change. I have stopped eating both carrots and zucchini since my SO doesn’t like them. There’s also a decent amount of manganese and vitamin C! (source)
Cool thing about zucchini? If you steam it, it actually retains its antioxidants quite well. Even frozen zucchini that is then steamed holds it nutrients far better than boiling or microwaving them. I found that interesting, since it’s always been taught, “EAT ALL YOUR VEGGIES WHOLE AND RAW!!!” They like scream it at you, right? It turns out that, while yes that is best, it’s as bad as they say when you cook your veggies. Oh, health nuts.
Ok, well, maybe this recipe isn’t the healthiest since it’s covered in cheese. The way I look at it though? The zucchini is quite low in calories, and the cheese is just helping add in some protein, calcium, etc. Whether or not that’s true, eh! I don’t care. This zucchini gratin is absolutely delicious! A must try if we’ve ever seen one. Check out the recipe on the next page!
This zucchini gratin reminds me of a healthier potatoes au gratin. It has fewer calories which makes it a lighter, healthier meal, but it still tastes great. I like these lighter dishes for summer! I don’t have air conditioning which means I almost never turn on my oven during the summer, but I love the idea of it. Really though, it’s great anytime.
Thanks to Jenn at Peas and Crayons in the Suburbs for this wonderful recipe!
- 1 large or extra large zucchini squash
- ½ cup minced yellow onion
- 1 large clove garlic, minced
- 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil, for sauteing
- ¼ cup milk
- ½ cup freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese
- ⅛ tsp paprika
- ⅛ tsp garlic powder
- a pinch of nutmeg [optional but delicious!]
- a pinch of allspice
- a pinch of salt
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup freshly grated fontina cheese
- ¼ cup freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese
- 2-3 TBSP fresh chopped spinach
- ⅛ tsp red pepper flakes
- 3-4 buttery crackers, crushed [I used honey cornbread crackers]
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F and slice your zucchini into discs about the width you’d use for cukes in a salad.
- Fill a medium bowl with ice water and set aside. Bring a pot of water to boil with enough water to just cover the zucchini discs. Once the water hits a rolling boil, toss in the zucchini slices for one minute, remove with a slotted spoon or drain in a colander, and immediately plunge them into the ice bath to shock the vegetable and halt the cooking process. Next lay them flat on a layer of paper towels, pat the exposed side dry, and sprinkle with about ⅛ tsp of salt, evenly distributed, to draw out the moisture. Let the discs sit while you move on to the onions and cheese!
- Bring a pot to medium-high heat with a tsp of olive oil or butter. Saute the onion and garlic until tender and translucent. Add ½ cup of grated cheddar along with the milk, chopped spinach, paprika, garlic powder, nutmeg, allspice, and a pinch of salt since you’ll be patting some of the salt off the zucchini. Stir well and remove from heat. Stir in your egg and set aside.
- Pat zucchini discs one last time with paper towel to remove any liquid the salt may have drawn out. Line a shallow baking dish with the sliced zucchini and pour the cheddar-onion mixture over the center. Top with ½ cup of fontina and an extra ¼ cup of cheddar cheese. Sprinkle with a few red pepper flakes, to taste, along with some crushed cracker crumbs.
- Cover loosely with foil and bake at 350F for around 15-18 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly. Remove the foil and set the oven to broil on high for an additional 3-5 minutes to give the cheese that extra-golden crust to it, but be sure to keep an eye for it to prevent charring.
For more stellar recipes and great step-by-step photos, visit Peas and Crayons.