Give Eggplant Parm a Makeover With Sweet Summer Zucchini

Large, thick slices of zucchini are breaded and pan-fried. Then, they're stacked and baked with layers of pepperoni, tomato sauce, and cheese until tender. Jennifer Olvera

As any gardener knows, sometimes that bumper crop of veggies takes on a life of its own. In my case, I've ended up with a few large zucchini that seem to have materialized overnight, and this recipe, a riff on eggplant Parmesan, is one of my favorite ways to use them.

The substitution here is very simple: I just use the zucchini in place of the eggplant. Rather than bake the breaded, pan-fried disks as one big layered mass in a baking dish, I form these into little individual stacks with alternating layers of pepperoni, tomato sauce, fresh basil, and a combination of mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Then, I bake them in the oven, followed by a quick blast under the broiler until browned and bubbly on top. The result is something both homey and company-worthy.

While some eggplant parm recipes call for salting the eggplant to remove excess moisture, it isn't necessary here, unless your zucchini is especially moist. In that case, place it in a sieve or colander, and sprinkle it with salt. Then, drain it over the sink for an hour before patting it dry and proceeding with the breading and frying steps. (If you can't find large zucchini, other summer squash, or even eggplant, will work too, without almost any difference in cooking times.)

Because the stacks can slide apart while cooking, they should be nestled against one another. You can also use a bit of crumpled foil, laced in between each stack, to keep them upright.

A short rest helps blow off the molten, tongue-burning heat and helps set their vertical form. Sprinkle on a garnish of fresh basil and they're ready to go.