The layers of marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese are baked on top of the breaded zucchini parmesan after it has been crisp-fried.
This is unquestionably one of my favorite summertime uses for garden zucchini. Prior to assembling it in the casserole dish and baking it, the preparation takes some time, but it is SO worth it.
If you prefer to bake or air fry the zucchini instead, there are instructions in the recipe card notes. However, I prefer to fry the zucchini first before baking it in the casserole dish with cheese and marinara.
Should You Salt Zucchini Before Cooking?
- Zucchini contains 95% water. A significant amount of this moisture is removed by salting them, and the paper towels on the top and bottom of the zucchini rounds absorb it.
- This makes a significant difference between having zucchini that is firm, and sturdy, as opposed to having zucchini that is limp and watery.
- After salting, leave them for at least 30 minutes to allow the most moisture to be drawn out. If I have the time, I usually let them sit for 1.5 hours.
How to Make It
No thicker than ¼ inch, slice the zucchini. To remove water, salt both sides and place between paper towels for up to an hour. Before dredging, dry each one by patting.
Garlic powder and beaten egg whites are applied to each slice. Place in breading mixture and generously coat.
Fry until golden brown on both sides in 350° preheated oil. Transfer to a cooling rack.
*Note: If baking or air frying the zucchini is what you prefer, instructions are provided in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Fill the bottom of a 9 x 13 casserole dish with marinara sauce. Add a layer of fried zucchini, then add mozzarella and marinara on top.
Up until all of the zucchini is used, keep layering zucchini, marinara, and mozzarella. Within the casserole dish, you can arrange them in neat stacks or overlap them.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes at 400 degrees, or until cheese is melted and starting to brown. Serve!
Do You Peel Zucchini?
- Unless the zucchini is enormous, in which case the skins might be bitter or tough, there is no need to peel it.
- A ripe zucchini should be about 6 inches in length.
- To achieve a nice crispy consistency, I like to slice these into thin, ¼-inch slices. The middle is more difficult to fully cook if this is not the case.
- Once breaded, don't leave them sitting around for too long. Before they are fried, if any moisture begins to seep through, give them another dip in the breading mixture.
- Before adding the zucchini, make sure the oil has reached 350° (medium-high heat). The breading will come off if it's not heated sufficiently. Then, as necessary, you can adjust up or down while cooking.
- As they cook, keep an eye on them because once they turn brown, it happens quickly.
- After frying, baking, or air frying the zucchini, place them on a cooling rack to keep them crisp.
Using Egg Whites For The Breading
- Chicken Parmesan and eggplant parmesan are traditionally dredged in seasoned flour, followed by eggs, and then a breadcrumb mixture. The zucchini to breading ratio was off when I tried this method with zucchini as well; I felt like the zucchini got lost in the breading.
- In order to prevent the egg from bleeding through, I prefer to dip the zucchini in egg whites, which still allows it to hold on to the breading. Following that, it is dipped into a seasoned breadcrumb/flour mixture that also contains some Parmesan cheese.
- This is a nice, light breading that goes well with the thin zucchini slices.
For up to 3 days in the fridge or up to 3 months in the freezer, store in an airtight container.
- 2 medium zucchini
- 2-3 egg whites
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 ½ cups marinara sauce
- 2 cups of mozzarella cheese
- 20 oz. vegetable oil
- ¾ cup flour
- ¾ cup Italian breadcrumbs
- ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
- ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper