copyright,2008, Maria Liberati
The Basic Art of Italian Cooking
Editor: Michela Pompeo
Summer: a time of rest, holidays, enjoyment… a time of healthy eating, especially considering the great quantity of vegetables available throughout the whole season. A time for vegetarians to eat a variety of vegetable-based dishes.
The following is a very easy and nice recipe for a simple but very tasty dish suitable for vegetarians, not vegans, because it includes eggs. So, shall I say suitable for eggetarians? It is based mainly on zucchini1 and tomatoes and they must be fresh: this is going to be your special ‘summer’ meal!
The origin of this recipe is probably either from Tuscany, (centre Italy, capital: Florence) or from Sicily (our biggest island in the south, capital: Palermo), but it is rather widespread elsewhere, too. In the summer, both zucchini and tomatoes grow everywhere in Italy.
2 lbs zucchini
4 medium eggs
1 big red onion
1 lb of fresh tomatoes
¼ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 clove (of garlic)
some fresh basil leaves (6 or 7)
2 vegetable stock cubes (the ones without monosodium glutamate are the best)
3 – 4 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
Wash and cut both ends of zucchini, then cut them into round thin slices; peel tomatoes2, take their seeds away (this is to achieve perfection; if you are in a hurry, don’t do it) and place everything into a large pan. Then add the chopped onion, the minced basil and garlic, oil and stock cubes. Cook for about 10-15 minutes on medium heat until the zucchini are soft and everything looks creamy (not watery).
Remove the pan from the stove, add the eggs and the grated Parmigiana-Reggiano cheese. Stir gently with a fork and pour everything into a round oven dish. Cover with bread crumbs and put it into the oven (not pre-heated). Bake for about 20 minutes at 400° F.
When it is ready, cut it into slides like a cake and serve it either warm or cold.
This torte makes 4 servings if you consider it a complete meal; if you accompany it with a fresh salad or with some salty biscuits (or bread) and cheese, it can serve more people.
If you happen to buy zucchini together with their yellow flowers (see picture above; you can even buy them separate!) don’t throw them away. You can use them to prepare delicious fritters.
What you need first is to prepare the batter: 3 tblsps of superfine flour and a little milk in a bowl; add one medium egg, a little bit of salt and a teaspoon of sugar; beat with a fork until it becomes smooth (it must be rather dense, not liquid, so adjust the quantity of flour accordingly). Remove pistils from flowers and divide flowers into two or three parts that you will dip into the batter. Do not wash the flowers: it will ruin both their taste and consistency. Fry for few minutes in very hot vegetable oil (corn oil or sunflower oil); dry on kitchen paper and serve them.
Delicious, in my opinion!
Here are some useful tips about zucchini:
1 There are some varieties of what we Italians mean by zucchini. I often found names such as courgettes, baby marrow, marrow squash… The ones you need for this recipe are those dark green ones, rather long and thin (see picture above).
2 A very simple way to do it is to throw tomatoes into boiling water for a few seconds; when you’ll take them out, the peel will come off directly.
For more great recipes and tips get your copy of the best selling book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking at http://www.marialiberati.com