Lenten cuisine: slow-cooked zucchini and tomatoes with toasted breadcrumbs

North Texas Catholic
(Mar 1, 2022) Feature
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Raised in Ireland, Father Michael O’Sullivan, SAC, has spent most of his priesthood in Africa, where he became a vegetarian. The pastor of St. Stephen Parish in Weatherford described this recipe as “easy and really delicious! Even the hungriest carnivore would lick their lips and dream of being a vegetarian. It’s a summer dish, but still delicious in the midst of winter.”

The Pallottine priest recommends serving this with some roast potatoes or “with lots of bread to mop up all the tomato-y sauce.”

Our Thoughts: Scrumptious. We spooned it over toasted Italian bread. It’s a symphony of texture (crunchy pine nuts, chewy bread crusts, smooth tomatoes) and flavors, which are all brightened by the fresh lemon juice.

Slow-cooked zucchini and tomatoes with toasted breadcrumbs

Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 1 hour 30 min
Serves: 4


  • 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • ​4 medium zucchini, trimmed and cut at an angle into roughly 2-inch chunks
  • 7 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 1 tsp oregano sprigs
  • 1½ Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2/3 cup olive oil (save 2 Tbsp for the toasted breadcrumbs)
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1 pound small, ripe tomatoes
  • 2½ Tbsp fresh lemon juice (or juice from 2 lemons)
  • 2 tsp fresh basil leaves, roughly torn

For the toasted breadcrumbs:

  • 3 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs
  • 2½ tablespoons pine nuts, very roughly broken in a mortar
  1. Heat the oven to 350.
  2. Put the onion, zucchini, six of the garlic cloves, oregano, tomato paste, oil, a teaspoon and a half of salt and a good grind of pepper in a large, cast-iron saucepan for which you have a lid. Stir well to combine, cover, then bake for 55 minutes, stirring once halfway, until everything has cooked down and softened but the zucchini still retain their shape.
  3. Remove from the oven and turn up the heat to 400. Stir the tomatoes into the zucchini mix and return the pan to the oven, uncovered, for 25 minutes, until the tomatoes have burst and the contents of the dish have taken on a little bit of color. Remove and discard the oregano stems, and leave to cool for 30 minutes, or longer, if you like (the dish is best eaten slightly warm or at room temperature).
  4. Meanwhile, make the toasted breadcrumbs. Put the remaining two tablespoons of oil in a medium saute pan on a medium-high heat and, once hot, add the panko, pine nuts, the remaining crushed garlic clove, 1/8 teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper, and turn down the heat to medium. Cook for six to seven minutes, stirring regularly, until nicely browned and crisp, then transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  5. To serve, stir the lemon juice and basil into the zucchini mixture and transfer to a large serving dish with a lip. Pour over all the sauce from the pan and sprinkle with a good handful of toasted breadcrumbs.

More Lenten recipes:

Indian rice porridge from Father Vijaya Mareedu, SAC

Vietnamese fried tofu in tomato sauce from the Dominican Sisters of Mary Immaculate

Butterfly pasta with zucchini and tomatoes from Father Joe Keating

Lent, Lenten Cuisine, food, slow-cooked, zucchini, Father Michael O'Sullivan, trending-english