Simple Art of Cooking: Peperonata and Zucchini Soufflé

Make a Zucchini Soufflé! Photo credit: marcociannarel/iStock/Thinkstock

September is a bounteous garden. The abundance of produce available at local farmers markets is staggering. It’s a time when you want to cook everything—I sure do!

Local flavors are foregrounded in this delectable Italian import. It’s a tasty seasonal side to almost any entrée and it benefits from being prepared up to two days ahead.

Serves 6 to 8

4 to 6 ripe tomatoes
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 medium red onions, peeled and halved
2 large cloves garlic, peeled
4 red and yellow peppers, halved, cored and seeded
2 teaspoons kosher salt
freshly ground pepper

1. To peel tomatoes, plunge them into boiling water for about 30 seconds to 1 minute, depending on their size. Cool under running water. Skins should slip off easily with the tip of a paring knife. Cut tomato in half through the circumference and squeeze out and discard seeds. Slice into wedges and set aside.

2. On a wooden board, place onions flat side down and slice thin. Chop garlic very fine. Slice pepper into pieces about 1/4” thick.

3. Heat oil in a 12” skillet; add onions and sauté until translucent, about 2 to 3 minutes, over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and cook for 30 to 40 seconds longer. Arrange the peppers in a layer over the onions. Top the peppers with the tomato wedges. Do not mix the vegetables. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, cover pan and simmer over medium heat about 20 minutes.

5. Remove cover and toss vegetables gently to mix. Taste to adjust seasoning if necessary. With a slotted spoon transfer vegetables to an oven-proof serving dish, then reduce the juices in the skillet until well reduced. Pour the reduced juices over the vegetables. Can be prepared ahead to this point. Cover and refrigerate up to two days. To serve, bring peperonata to room temperature. Preheat oven to 375° and cook about 10 to 15 minutes to heat through before serving.

This recipe is not really a traditional soufflé. Egg whites are beaten to a sturdy froth and mixed with the remaining ingredients for a light and airy dish.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

4 farm-fresh, narrow zucchini (about 1 1/2 pounds)
3 eggs, separated
1 package (7.5 ounces) farmer cheese
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon paprika
2–3 tablespoons bread crumbs
5–6 tablespoons grated Parmesan
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 350°.

Butter a 10- to 12-inch shallow Pyrex pie plate

1. Grate zucchini on the largest hole of a stand-up grater over a large bowl. Squeeze dry in a clean kitchen towel and return to the bowl.

2. Add egg yolks to the zucchini with the farmer cheese, seasonings and about 2 to 3 tablespoons breadcrumbs to bind. Add Parmesan, salt and pepper to taste and stir to mix until thoroughly combined. Beat egg whites in a cold bowl with cold beaters until firm but not dry. Carefully fold into the zucchini mixture.

3. Transfer zucchini mixture into the prepared baking dish. Bake in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes until top is golden brown and mixture is firm and slightly puffy. The dish can be served warm or baked up to 2 hours ahead and served at room temperature. It can also be prepared up to several days ahead. Cut into wedges and reheat to warm. Cover and refrigerate unused portion, bring to room temperature when ready to reheat.


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