Zucchini Pashtida

Growing up on a kibbutz, I ate most of my meals in the communal dining hall, but sometimes my mom, Pnina, cooked for our family. Nowadays, I like to make her signature recipe — a zucchini casserole — for Shabbat dinner with my family.

In NYC, life rarely slows down, but my husband, Ilan, our daughter, Ella, and I always make space for Shabbat and try to re-create the sense of community. I feel lucky to have friends who make New York a home, and we often spend Shabbat together — taking our time over the meal and drinking wine while the kids run around high on sugar.

Shabbat meals don’t need to be formal to feel special. When the weather is nice, I turn dinner into a picnic and lay a blanket down on the grass next to my apartment building on the lower East side or in one of the city’s many parks.

naama shefi

Zucchini Pashtida
6 to 8 servings

Similar to a crustless quiche, pashtida is made with eggs, often mixed with vegetables and cottage cheese; in the 1980s, it was very of the moment in Israel. We’ve come a long way in terms of cooking since then, but this dish is still part of my family’s repertoire.

I’ve adapted my mom’s recipe a bit — and sometimes I like to swap some of the all-purpose flour for chickpea flour, which lends the dish a nutty quality. Be sure to choose slender, firm zucchini for the best texture. If your squash is a bit more mature and seedy, salt the slices for about 10 minutes and then wipe off the salt and pat them dry before using. The dish is best when the zucchini is sliced very thin, so use a mandoline if you have one.

You’ll need:
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons panko-style or dry breadcrumbs, plus more for the pan
1 large onion (about 10 ounces/280 g), finely chopped
1 to 1¼ pounds (450 to 560 g) zucchini (2 to 3), sliced into thin rounds
Kosher salt
3 large eggs
¾cup (190 g) plain whole-milk Greek yogurt
½ cup (50 g) plus 2 tablespoons finely grated hard cheese, such as Parmesan, kasseri, or kashkaval
¼ cup (60 ml) whole milk
¼ cup (30 g) all-purpose flour
Freshly ground black pepper
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill or flat-leaf parsley, or a mix

Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease a 9-inch (22.5 cm) pie pan with olive oil. Dust the pan with breadcrumbs and tap out any excess crumbs.

In a large skillet, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft and fragrant, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the onion to a large plate or tray and set aside.

Increase the heat to medium-high, and if the pan seems dry, add another ½ tablespoon olive oil. Add the zucchini, sprinkle with salt, and sauté until the zucchini slices have softened a bit but are not completely cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer the zucchini to the plate with the onions and let cool for about 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, stir together the eggs, yogurt, the ½ cup (50 g) grated cheese, and the milk until smooth. Stir in the flour and season the mixture with 1 teaspoon salt and a few twists of black pepper. Fold in the dill, onion, and zucchini, mixing well.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pie pan, smoothing the surface so the zucchini slices lie flat. Sprinkle with the 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs and the remaining 2 tablespoons cheese.

Bake the pashtida until firm and golden brown, 55 to 65 minutes. If you like, turn on the broiler and cook for a few more minutes for a crispy golden-brown surface. Remove from the oven.

Let the pashtida cool for a few minutes before serving warm, or let cool completely and serve at room temperature.

Naama Shefi is the author of the Jewish Food Society’s debut cookbook: The Jewish Holiday Table: A World of Recipes, Traditions & Stories to Celebrate All Year Long, which came out this week. It’s a vibrant collection of 135 recipes and stories from diverse Jewish families around the world.

Enjoy! Congratulations on your beautiful new cookbook, Naama.

(Photos by Penny De Los Santos. Excerpted from The Jewish Holiday Table by Naama Shefi and the Jewish Food Society (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2024.)

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