Mediterranean Zucchini Casserole

Back when we lived in lovely Blue Jay on the Ohio/Indiana border, I spent my whole summer trying to make good use of all the tomatoes and zucchini my husband planted and harvested.  In 1995, I found a recipe in the newspaper that used a lot of zucchini, tomatoes and basil to make a big 9×13 pan of Mediterranean Zucchini Casserole.  I have a note in my recipe binder, “Large amount, but David and I ate 3/4 of it for supper along with hot rolls and a tossed salad.  Excellent.  We both liked this.”

Now that I’m alone, I cut the recipe down to fit a 9″ pan and still ate on it for three days.  It was delicious each day.  The good part about this dish is that there is not a lot going on to interfere with the fresh flavors of the vegetables and basil and the baking time allows the vegetables to be at their tender best.  I only make this casserole in the summer when I can use good farm market vegetables and my own fresh basil.

MEDITERRANEAN ZUCCHINI CASSEROLE

  • 1/2 lb. lean ground beef (I use Laura’s Lean 4% fat beef)
  • 1/2 cup of chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Grind or two of black pepper
  • 3 slices of sturdy bread (I use homemade Italian bread)
  • 3/4 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 2 Tblsp. olive oil
  • 1-1/2 medium zucchini cut into 1/4″ thick slices (3 cups)
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes, sliced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Saute the ground beef, onion and garlic until beef is done and onion is tender.  Season with salt and pepper.

Tear bread into chunks and put into food processor with basil leaves.  Process until crumbs are fine.

Oil bottom of 9″ baking pan.  Arrange half of zucchini in the bottom of the pan, spread half of cooked meat/onions/garlic over the zucchini.  Top with half of tomato slices.

Sprinkle half of the bread cumb mixture over the tomatoes.  Drizzle olive oil over the top.  Repeat with layers of zucchini, tomato, crumbs and olive oil.

Bake @ 350 degrees F for one hour.

Sit down and enjoy the flavors of summer!

Rye Bread and Reubens

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My daughters say they have never found a restaurant version of the Reuben Sandwich that is as good as the one I make, mainly because of my insistence on very lean, good quality corned beef, and because of my homemade rye bread.  They like this rye bread, called “Modest” probably because it is a light rye with no caraway or other strong flavor.

MODEST RYE BREAD

  • Servings: 2 7-1/2-inch loaves plus 4 large rolls
  • Print

  • 5 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 cup rye flour
  • 1 package fast-rising yeast
  • 3/4 cup non-fat dry milk
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tblsp. molasses
  • 3 Tblsp canola oil
  • 2-1/4 cups water heated to 130 degrees F

In the large bowl of an electric mixer, place 1 cup of all-purpose flour, 1 cup of rye flour, yeast, dry milk, and salt.  Mix to blend and add molasses, oil and 130 degree F water.  Beat on medium speed with regular beater for 3 minutes.  Insert dough hook and beat another 6:30 minutes, adding flour as needed to make dough elastic and not sticky.

Place dough in oiled bowl, cover and let rise in warm place for 30 minutes.

Punch down dough and form into loaves.  I like to divide the dough in thirds and place a third in each of two loaf pans which measure 7-1/2 x 3-3/4 x 2-1/4 inches.  This size makes a nice size slice for making the Reubens.  The remaining third is usually made into large hearty rolls to eat with dinner.

Cover the bread/rolls and let rise 30 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Bake this size loaf for approximately 25 minutes and the rolls for approximately 12 minutes.  Let cool on a wire rack.

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REUBEN SANDWICHES

  • 1 lb. good quality corned beef, sliced thin
  • 1/2 lb. sliced Swiss cheese
  • 1 cup sauerkraut, drained
  • Rye bread

To make the sandwiches, I prefer to bake the bread a day ahead of time so it’s more manageable to divide into thin slices (cut off the heels and cut about 12 slices).  Butter a slice of bread and place butter-side-down in a skillet, add a layer of corned beef, a slice of Swiss cheese and a spoonful of sauerkraut, add second slice of buttered bread.  Grill, browning on each side, at a medium high heat to give the beef and cheese a chance to warm before the bread gets too brown.

Serve immediately.  My daughters like to add Thousand Island Dressing to their sandwiches.  The two loaves of bread are about right for the quantity of corned beef, Swiss and sauerkraut, depending on how thick you make your sandwiches.