Tomatoes are to July and August as pumpkin is to October. It's the official start of summer, and for me that means being on the lookout for farmers markets anywhere, everywhere, and anytime. But sometimes, it doesn't take a farmers market to find the freshest produce around. I learned that as a kid, and I'm rediscovering it now. Growing up in a small town in Mississippi, I can remember regularly seeing people in blue overalls sitting on the side of the road in chairs with an old truck backed up to the street, tailgate down, and fresh produce spilling right off the back of the truck. That description may sound like I saw it in a painting in the Cracker Barrel and just decided to roll with it as a "childhood memory," but it is in fact the truth. Even today when I go back to my hometown, I see people in those same spots selling tomatoes, watermelons, and all the beauties of a farmer's summer garden. Because I now live in the city, it's rare to see random farm stands and trucks full of produce on the side of the road, but luckily, I travel to small towns for work and it's a lot of fun to keep an eye out for these little pop-up produce markets. This recipe comes inspired by a random market I found in one of the small towns I regularly visit. Similar to a ratatouille, this dish full of fresh, slowly baked veggies with a little surprise on the inside: cheese! And as for the newest random produce stand I found on the street, I'll just say as soon as I cut into the tomatoes, there was no question that they had just been picked that day. My kind of summer produce!
Grocery List (2 people):
- 4-5 large, even sized summer squash and zucchini
- Kosher salt
- 4 oz mascarpone cheese - room temperature
- 4 oz goat cheese - room temperature
- 3 tbsp. basil - minced
- 1 tbsp. parsley - minced
- 1 tsp garlic - minced
- 12 oz marinara
- 1 tsp red pepper flake (optional)
- 1 large tomato - sliced thick
- Fresh parmesan
- Olive oil
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees and heat an oiled grill pan to high heat on the stove.
Cut the ends off of each squash and zucchini. One at a time, sit a squash upright with the cut side down so you have a flat, sturdy surface. Cutting downward, slice squash into long, thin pieces. Repeat with the zucchini. Avoid using the end pieces -- you only want the middle so each slice is even, thin, and easy to roll.
Place squash and zucchini pieces on a rack and sprinkle with salt on both sides. Let stand for 10 minutes so the moisture comes out of the veggies.
Lightly dry each squash and zucchini piece off with paper towels, trying not to remove all the salt from the veggies.
Grill each squash and zucchini piece 2-3 minutes on each side and set aside to cool.
2. While the veggies are cooling, prepare the filling by mixing together the mascarpone, goat cheese, basil, parsley, garlic, and a dash of salt and pepper.
Take one piece of squash and zucchini at a time, fill with about 1 tsp of cheese mixture, and roll up.
3. Lay each rollup down in a small baking dish (if you double up the recipe, use a large baking dish - 9 x 13 in). Cover the pieces with the marinara and sprinkle the top with red pepper flakes.
Top sauce with sliced tomatoes and grate fresh parmesan over the top.
4. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Top with more basil and serve immediately.
CHEERS TO HAPPY EATING!!!