Back in the day, Mommy Charlotte (she refused to let us call her “Grandma” or “Grandmother”) would feed my siblings, cousin and me adventurous food. At least, it seemed adventurous compared to the meat-potatoes-and-something-green we usually experienced at our Hoosier family table. She was first to introduce rabbit, various mushrooms, colorful variegated beans in savory soup. Squash was one ingredient we were not interested in trying. It just didn’t SOUND like it could possibly taste good. She brilliantly added fresh tomatoes, and gave it name we couldn’t resist: Pizza’d Squash.
Pizza as a verb. Nice move, Mommy Charlotte! Essentially a squash casserole with tomatoes, Italian seasonings with a browned and gooey cheese topping. It was enthusiastically gobbled followed by requests for seconds, my parents raising their eyebrows and shaking their heads in disbelief. Here is my approximation of what we experienced back in the ’60s when we visited Coshocton, Ohio.
Pre-heated the oven to 350°F, and buttered the floor and walls of a casserole dish.
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium onion, rough chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
Salt and pepper to taste
1.5 lbs. thin sliced zucchini
1 lb. plum tomatoes, like San Marzano, rough chopped
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
Heated the olive oil in a large, deep pan, then sautéed the onions for 4 minutes on medium heat, then added the garlic for 30 seconds or so – just long enough to become fragrant. Added the Zucchini, salt and pepper for another 4 minutes. Stirred in the chopped tomatoes and tomato paste into the mix until heated through. Removed from heat, then mixed in
1 teaspoon dried oregano (or dried Italian herb blend)
Moved sautéed mixture into the prepared casserole dish, then topped with
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
Popped it in the oven for 20 minutes, then added
¼ cup dried bread crumbs on top
Back in the oven for 2 minutes. Left it to cool for a few minutes before serving. That’s it! This was super tasty. Fresh ingredients are a must. The zucchini was from the backyard raised beds, onions from the Andreas Homestead, tomatoes procured at our local farmers’ market.
Though my grandmother never offered a recipe, this is close to what I remember. She made trying new ingredients an adventure for us. Many thanks, Mommy Charlotte!