Ok, it’s the end of summer and I’m pretty sure all you gardeners out there have something that looks like this sitting around your house.
Based on personal experience, by this time of the year you have several of these to dispose of, your friends have stopped taking your phone calls and your neighbors won’t answer the door if you look like you are carrying something behind your back or in a basket. No worries though, here is another way to use these up that is sure to please someone.
Start with a naked fatty. No, not that kind, this kind. Get your mind out of the gutter.
For those of you unfamiliar with the naked fatty, it is simply a chub of ground sausage (in this case Jimmy Dean Sage) sprinkled with spices or your favorite rub (this one had Italian seasoning mix) and smoked at about 225°F until it hits 170°F internally. Take it off the grill, set it aside, and let the grill heat up while you prep the sauce and zucchini.
For the sauce, finely chop an onion and sauté in a pan directly over the hottest part of the coals (assuming your grill is still heating up. Feel free to sprinkle a little EVOO in the bottom of the pan with the onion. Once the onions are translucent, add some minced garlic and cook for another minute or two. Add one 6 oz. can of tomato paste, one 15 oz. can of chopped tomatoes, about 1/3 cup of red wine, and your favorite Italian herbs and spices. I used fresh basil, thyme, ground pepper, and a dash of salt in this batch. Chop up the fatty and some fresh mushrooms and add to the pot. Stir well, cover, and simmer while you are prepping the rest of the dish. Here’s what yesterday’s batch looked like when ready for the final assembly.
Slice the zucchini lengthwise into 1/4 inch strips. Lightly coat them with EVOO and your favorite Italian seasonings. Grill them until tender, turning them once. The idea is to get them to release some of the moisture before they go into the final assembly for baking. They should look something like this when they are ready to come off the grill.
Now it’s time for final assembly. Note I didn’t say anywhere that this would be a quick meal. Lightly coat the bottom of a 9″x13″ pan with oil and cover with a layer of the grilled zucchini. Spread a thin layer of the sauce over the zucchini.
The cheese comes next. I used a mixture of about a pint of ricotta, a cup of ground parmesan, and fresh mozzarella slices. The ricotta and parmesan was mixed well, spread on the sauce layer, then mozzarella slices laid on top of that. Note to self: use shredded mozzarella next time and mix with the other cheeses. The rest of you might want to use that tip the first time you make this. Sprinkle fresh basil on top of this.
Repeat those last two steps and add another layer of zucchini slices, sauce, and cheese mix. Top with any remaining zucchini (or add another layer if you have room in the pan and a LOT of zucchini to use up. Put the assembled pan back on the grill at about 325-350°F and cook for another 45 minutes to an hour. Or longer if your charcoal has burned down and you didn’t notice it. We won’t discuss how long it actually took to cook this last night other than to say everyone was real hungry by the time the charcoal issue was detected and corrected. The final product looked something like this.
I admit that this could have all been done in the house and overall cook time shortened greatly. Or it could have been done in a crock pot and cooked all day, as this is how I remember it being done when I was a kid. But it wouldn’t have the smokey flavor that this batch did.
Nor would it have given me something to write about…