Zucchini Pizza Casserole
Yield: 6-8 servings
We love the addition of mushrooms in this recipe but, like your favorite pizza, feel free to mix in your favorite toppings such as black olives, green peppers and pepperoni. If readily available, several tablespoons of your favorite fresh herbs-basil, thyme, oregano, and/or parsley-added with the pizza sauce will enhance the flavor. The beauty of this all-in-one meal is its versatility.


Ingredients

  • 4 cups shredded, unpeeled zucchini and/or summer squash*
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese (or a slightly scant cup finely grated)
  • 3 cups (12 ounces) shredded cheese, divided use (I’ve used cheddar, Mexican or Italian blends; mozzarella works well, too, and a mix can be nice)**
  • 1 small to medium yellow onion, chopped (1 to 1½ cups)
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, chopped (I’ve recently used as much as 12 ounces)
  • 1 pound lean ground beef (could substitute ground turkey or sausage of choice-or use half of each)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pizza sauce
  • Fresh basil for garnish, optional

Instructions

  1. Place the zucchini in a strainer, and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt. Let stand for 20-30 minutes. Using a clean tea towel, squeeze out as much excess moisture as possible.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine the zucchini with the eggs, all of the Parmesan, and half of the other shredded cheese. Press into a greased, 13 x 9-inch baking dish.
  3. Bake, uncovered, at 400° F for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown on top. (If you really squeezed a lot of the moisture out of the zucchini, it might cook in as little as 20 minutes, so check a little early.)
  4. Meanwhile, cook the onion and mushrooms in a large, oiled skillet over medium heat until the mushrooms have released their moisture and are nicely browned, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. (If using pre-sliced mushrooms, I like to roughly chop with a metal spatula while sautéing.) Transfer to a plate.
  5. Next, brown the meat and drain, if necessary. (Sautéing the meat and veggies separately gives the mushrooms the space to really brown, which enhances their meaty flavor.) When the meat is cooked, stir in the pizza sauce, the cooked vegetables, ¼ teaspoon of salt, and a few grinds of the pepper mill. Simmer for 2 minutes or until slightly thickened.
  6. Spoon the meat mixture over the cooked zucchini mixture.
  7. Sprinkle with the remaining shredded cheese, and bake 10 minutes longer or until heated throughout. Sprinkle with fresh basil, if using, and enjoy!

Notes

*The shredding blade of a food processor makes quick work of shredding the zucchini. A box grater works well, too. A little over a pound of zucchini (or two large) should be sufficient to yield four shredded cups. In a pinch, shredded potato may be used in combination. Simply add to the zucchini, salting and draining together.
**If you find yourself short on shredded cheese, the recipe will work with 2 cups. I recently had only this amount and used half in the crust and half on top and the result was still quite good.


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