YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Rustic Zucchini Layered with Tomatoes

A long time ago, I spent an exciting albeit exhausting day climbing inside the Pyramids at Giza. Later that night, I ate a dish just like this in a restaurant in Cairo. Having worked up quite an appetite, my memories of that meal are layered through with the sounds of noisy waiters and clanging pots, the smart smack of pottery plates being gathered to and from tables, and the sight of dozens of cats walking silently above us on the ceiling beams of that busy restaurant.

  • 2 large onions, sliced very thinly
  • 2 Tbsp. + 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 10 garlic cloves, chopped roughly
  • 4 large tomatoes, diced
  • zest of 1 small lemon, plus 1 Tbsp. juice
  • 2 tsp. whole cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
  • cracked black pepper
  • 2 lbs. zucchini, sliced into 1/4 inch disks
  • 1/4 c. Italian parsley, chopped

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large oven proof or cast-iron skillet. Add onions and saute 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden. Add garlic and stir just until it begins to turn brown at the edges.

Reduce heat to medium-low. Add tomatoes, lemon zest and juice, salt, pepper and spices. Simmer on low for approximately 5 minutes until tomatoes cook down a bit. It should be slightly dry.

Remove two-thirds of the tomato sauce to a bowl, and spread remaining sauce evenly on bottom of pan. Moving from the center to the edges, make a layer of zucchini in slightly overlapping circles. Sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper.

Spread half the remaining tomato sauce over the zucchini slices as evenly as possible. Add a final layer of zucchini, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cover with remaining sauce.

Cover securely with foil. Bake at 350F for 45 minutes. Remove foil, give pan a good shake, return to oven, and bake uncovered for 20 minutes more. Let stand 15 minutes, sprinkle with fresh parsley, drizzle with remaining olive oil, and serve. Serves 4.

Thank you to for this beautiful dish, which they call Rustic Zucchini Tian.

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