One of the most difficult fantasies for me to give up when we bought our house was having a garden. After six years of living in an apartment, I had romantic visions of planting my own vegetables, harvesting them with care, and using them to make beautiful summer recipes like today’s Tomato Eggplant Zucchini Bake with Garlic and Parmesan.
My produce dreams were circumvented by flora and fawna.
Our lot is filled with sweeping oak and maple trees which, while pretty, make the yard too shady to support even the hardiest of plants.
The only place that receives any direct sunlight is our driveway.
Even if Ben did sign off on replacing the concrete with rows of homegrown tomatoes and zucchini, the friendly pack of neighborhood deer, who like to help themselves to everything above ground, would eat them for lunch.
In some ways, the lack of sun and hungry neighborhood wildlife are a bit of a relief.
As much as I romanticize gardening, I know it is a labor of love and that (much like of the rest of our yard) there would be many weeks where I would neglect it for the chance to spend time with friends or at the lake.
Not having a garden of my own to tend also gives me the opportunity to rely on (and support!) the hardworking local farmers who already grow a gorgeous array of summer treasures like the fresh eggplant, zucchini, and tomatoes in today’s recipe.
About This Tomato Eggplant Zucchini Bake
Every summer, zucchini and tomatoes have the run of our refrigerator, a problem that you wouldn’t suspect someone with a garden-free yard to have.
Every time I walk into the grocery store, I can’t seem to prevent myself from tossing a few extra into my cart “just in case.” Guess I’ll have to make this Zucchini Pasta too!
Today’s recipe came about on a summer night a few years ago, when I was in a rush to make dinner and frustrated by the self-inflicted zucchini supply usurping every surface in our kitchen.
I decided to simply chop all of the vegetables dominating our fridge, coat them in a reliable trio of olive oil, garlic, and Parmesan, and bake them together to see what happened.
Forty-five minutes later, this Tomato Eggplant Zucchini Bake emerged in a cacophony of colorful glory, and my home was perfumed with the aroma of an Italian grandmother’s kitchen.
As I breathed in its rich, garlicky scent and gazed at the rainbow of veggies in the dish, I marveled at the wonderful fact that a recipe can be so astonishingly simple and breathtakingly beautiful at the same time.
If your buying habits are anything like mine, I see a lot of zucchini, eggplant, and tomatoes in your near future too.
This recipe, along with other favorite zucchini side dishes like this Roasted Zucchini are a great way to use up your summer produce supply.
Two final recipe notes:
- ONE: this Tomato Eggplant Zucchini Bake makes a striking impression in more ways than one. In addition to its stunning array of colors and aroma, the garlic flavor is not shy. I’d suggest avoiding in on a first date…unless, of course, you are looking to circumvent the first kiss or wish to live dangerously, in which case, bon appétit.
- TWO: As the summer goes on and eggplant becomes larger and more mature, its taste can be a little bitter. To avoid this, before making the recipe, slice and salt the eggplant, let it rest for 10 minutes, then pat it dry with paper towels.
How to Store, Reheat, and Freeze This Recipe
- To Store. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- To Reheat. Reheat gently in a large skillet over medium-low heat or in the microwave.
- To Freeze. I have not tried freezing this recipe, but I think it would work fine if you don’t mind the veggies being on the slightly mushier side (this tends to happen to tomatoes and zucchini when they freeze). Bake the recipe as directed, let cool completely, then freeze tightly wrapped for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then reheat gently in the oven or microwave. The veggies will lose some texture and might be a little overly soft, but they should still be tasty.
More Delicious Veggie Sides
Tomato Eggplant Zucchini Bake with Garlic and Parmesan
- 3 medium zucchini about 1 1/2 pounds
- 1 small/medium eggplant about 3/4 pound—see notes if your eggplant is large
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 large cloves garlic minced
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese divided (about 2 1/2 ounces)
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil divided
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley divided
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a deep 9×9-inch baking dish or similar 3 1/2-quart casserole dish with nonstick spray.
- Quarter the zucchini then cut into 1/2-inch slices and place in a large mixing bowl (each piece of zucchini should be roughly 1/2 to 3/4 inches in size). Next, slice the eggplant into 1/4-inch rounds, then stack the rounds and cut into roughly 3/4-inch pieces. Add to the bowl with the zucchini. Halve the cherry tomatoes and add them to the bowl. Drizzle the cut vegetables with the olive oil, then add the garlic, salt, pepper, 1/3 cup of the Parmesan cheese, and half of the basil and parsley. Toss gently to combine.
- Transfer the vegetables to the prepared baking dish. Bake for 25 minutes, cover the pan with aluminum foil, then continue baking for 10 to 20 additional minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese, basil, and parsley. Serve warm.
- Larger, more mature summer eggplant can have a slightly bitter taste. If you’d like to avoid this (or find eggplant a bit bitter in general), salt the eggplant first, which helps mellow its flavor. Before starting the recipe, cut the eggplant into 1/4-inch thick rounds. Spread the slices on paper towels, then lightly sprinkle them with salt. Let sit 10 minutes. Pat the slices dry with additional paper towels, then proceed with the recipe as directed.
- Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat gently in the microwave.
- I have not tried freezing this recipe, but I think it would work fine if you don’t mind the veggies being on the slightly mushier side (this tends to happen to tomatoes and zucchini when they freeze). Bake the recipe as directed, let cool completely, then freeze tightly wrapped for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then reheat gently in the oven or microwave. The veggies will lose some texture and might be a little overly soft, but they should still be tasty.
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