Thursday, July 9, 2009

Cheesy Zucchini Summer Casserole and Crunchy Beet Burgers

Among other veggies, this week we got zucchini and beets from One Straw Farm, our CSA.  This was a pretty sweet haul, especially given that when it comes to food I tend to think in colors - like my mom always used to say, if it looks pretty on the plate there's a decent chance it's good for you and tastes yummy to boot. I couldn't resist the thought of pairing pale green strips of fresh zucchini with the vibrant purple of the beets. But how?
Well, I am a sucker for a casserole, and just about anything baked with cheese is fine by me. So a zucchini casserole was a no-brainer. And rather than roast the beets or make a beet salad - good choices, to be sure, but not what I had in mind - I decided to make beet burgers. I was inspired by a recipe on One Straw Farm's web site, but I took it in my own direction. These crunchy-yet-juicy little burgers are addictive, and I dare even the most rapacious carnivore to resist their charms.  Horseradish, creme fraiche, or some leftover remoulade work really well as condiments.

Cheesy Zucchini Summer Casserole
serves 4 as a main course; 6 as a side

3 medium zucchini, sliced into very thin discs (a carrot peeler or the large blade on a cheese grater does the trick)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4-5 garlic cloves, minced
6 oz. sharp white cheddar, grated
6 oz mozzarella, 1/2 grated and 1/2 sliced
1/8 cup grated parmesan
2 tbsp olive oil
a tad more than 1/8 cup of matzo meal (You don't want this to be a starchy dish, but you do want something to absorb the liquid so that it "sets." 
2 eggs, beaten
kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste

In a mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients except a small handful of the cheddar, the sliced mozz, the parm, and the beaten eggs.
Once everything is mixed, taste to check the salt and pepper levels - adjust accordingly.
Add beaten eggs and mix thoroughly.
Transfer to a 2 qt pyrex casserole, tamping the mixture down and smoothing the surface.
Sprinkle the reserved cheddar on the top, and then place the sliced mozz evenly on top of that. Sprinkle the parm on any spots where the zucchini is exposed and do a light dusting over the whole casserole. Grind some black pepper over the top as well.
Bake covered for 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven; uncover and bake for another 30 minutes. You want the top to look all brown and bubbly, mmmm:

Let sit for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Crunchy Beet Burgers

3 large beets, grated
2 carrots, grated
1 medium onion, grated
1/2 cup grated parmesan or pecorino romano
5 dashes of worcestershire sauce (vegetarians omit this step)
1 tsp cayenne
1 cup toasted unsalted sunflower seeds
3/4 cup of matzo meal or other similar unflavored bread crumbs (I know that brown rice is often used here, but I find that using brown rice in a veggie burger tends to make the whole thing taste like a brown rice burger. I wanted these babies to be all about the beets.)
4-5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp dried parsley
2 beaten eggs
kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste

In a mixing bowl, combine everything except the eggs. Taste and adjust the seasonings.
Add the eggs and combine thoroughly.
Form into uniform patties - roughly 3-4" across and 1/2 inch thick.
Place onto a nonstick or glass baking dish. (That's important, because if you try to bake them on greased tinfoil or any other surface the bottoms will stick ... I made this mistake not once, but twice. Genius.) Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until they're firm and slightly browned and look like this: 


  1. beautiful! filing the zuch recipe away our always to much crop in late July and Viola will love beets burgers! She is all about the beets - since teeth arrived (& other strange non-kid foods like okra, tuna, mushrooms) Thanks for committing your recipes to the blogosphere & sharing your lovely photos too! CAITLIN

  2. these beet burgers were amazing. i love beets but my partner does not. however, this recipe was a winner at our dinner table and he even asked for seconds. thank u tasty trix. ur recipes are saving this relationship!