ABOUT THE RECIPE:
Ever come home from the farmers’ market with a HUGE zucchini and can’t figure out what to do with it? Elegant, but easy this Zucchini Napoleon with Tahini-Nut Cheeze recipe uses large zucchini to create a stunning entrée. Slices of tender squash are layered with Tahini-Nut Cheeze (below) nestled atop a simple marinara sauce. Yum.
MAKES 6 SERVINGS
1 very large zucchini (3 to 3 1/2-inches in diameter at the wide end) or 6 to 8 “eight-ball zucchini
11/4 cups prepared vegan marinara sauce, divided, plus more as needed
1 recipe Tahini-Nut Cheeze (below)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
3 large slices Italian-style bread, torn into chunks (you may use whole grain bread or gluten-free bread, if you like)
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning blend
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Slice the large end of the zucchini into 12 slices, each about 3 to 31/2-inches in diameter and 1/4-inch thick. Slice 6 more slices from the zucchini, each about 2 to 21/2-inches in diameter and 1/4-inch thick. (Or alternately, slice each 8-ball zucchini into about 4 to 5 slices, reserving tops and bottoms for another use)
Spread 1 cup of the marinara sauce in the bottom of a 9 by 12-inch or similar sized casserole. Arrange the 6 largest zucchini slices in a single layer over top of the sauce. Spread each slice with a generous amount of the cheeze. Sprinkle each slice with a dash of sea salt. Top with 6 more zucchini slices and spread each with generous amount of the cheeze. Sprinkle each slice with a dash of sea salt. Top each stack with a smaller zucchini slice, and spoon about 2 teaspoons of marinara sauce over the top of each napoleon. Tent with foil, and bake for 35 minutes.
While the napoleons bake, make the bread crumb topping. Put the bread chunks, Italian seasoning and 1/4 teaspoon sea salt into a blender and process into coarse crumbs. Transfer the bread crumbs to a small bowl. Add the olive oil and stir to thoroughly coat the bread crumbs.
Remove the napoleons from the oven, uncover and sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the top. Bake uncovered for an additional 10 to 12 minutes, or until the topping is crisp and zucchini is tender, checking often and adding a bit more marinara sauce to the bottom of the casserole dish, if it is becoming dry.
Put the casserole on a wire rack and let cool 5 to 7 minutes. Serve 1 napoleon per person, surrounded by pasta, quinoa or brown rice with a bit of the sauce from the bottom of the casserole spooned over the top.
MAKES ABOUT 2 CUPS
1/2 cup roasted, salted sunflower seeds
1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 can (14 to 16 ounces) white kidney beans or your preferred white bean variety, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon sesame tahini
1 teaspoon tamari
1/2 cup chopped raw cashews (If you prefer, you may soak the cashews first. To do so, put the cashews into a small bowl and pour water over to cover. Refrigerate for 1 to 4 hours. Drain, rinse well and use in recipe.)
1 medium clove garlic, chopped
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
Put all of the ingredients into a high-performance blending appliance in the order listed. Process until very smooth in texture, occasionally stopping the machine to scrape down the sides. The cheeze will be thick. Covered tightly and refrigerated, the cheeze will keep up to 2 days.