Zucchini Parmesan and Valentine's Day

First of all, Happy Valentine's Day! I hope everyone has been able to spend the day or at least receive a gift from someone special, and most importantly, has been able to eat some beautiful vegetarian food!

I have to send a shout out to my honey by posting a picture of the beautiful gift I received from him this week: a big bouquet of perfect pink flowers. It was such a great surprise. I've kept them on my night stand so they're the first thing I see when I wake up in the morning, along with a picture of us!

Today I chose a dish that would not only make a great Valentine's meal (in case you're still working on that one..), but has also been one of my favorite foods since I was little. It's pretty strange, I know, that zucchini can be evocative of childhood memories, but for me, it's true. Zucchini, which is really a summer vegetable, was always in abundance in our garden and my grandparent's garden, so I had plenty of opportunity to eat one of my most favorite dishes of all, Zucchini Parmesan, as a child. It's not like eggplant Parmesan, where you have fried, crusted pieces of squash in sauce. This dish, instead, has sauteed zucchini and onions smothered in marinara and topped with a little mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. I hope you enjoy this dish as much as I always have!

Zucchini Parmesan

1 lb (2 medium) zucchini, thinly sliced
1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 tsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried parsley
salt and pepper, to taste
a few tbsp water, for steaming
1 cup of your favorite marinara sauce
1/2 cup shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese
2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
fresh parsley, for garnish
non-stick cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Spray with cooking spray and add the zucchini, onion, and garlic and saute until the onion is partially translucent. Season with the dried herbs and salt and pepper.
2. Add a tbsp or two of water and put the lid on the pan. Steam the vegetables until they are very soft, about 10 minutes. Stir them occasionally to make sure they don't stick to the pan.
3. Add the marinara sauce to the vegetables and stir to combine.
4. Spray a 1.5 qt casserole dish with cooking spray. Add the zucchini mixture, then layer on the cheeses. Place in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until the cheeses have melted and the sauces is bubbling around the edges. Remove it from the oven and let it sit firm up for about 3 minutes. Garnish with parsley.

Makes 2 main course servings or 4 side dish servings
For 1 main course serving:
Calories: 268
Fat: 10.9 g
Saturated fat: 5.4 g
Cholesterol: 22 mg
Sodium: 763 mg
Carbohydrates: 29.7 g
Fiber: 6.3 g
Sugar: 16.4 g
Protein: 14.8 g

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