Cooking With Superfoods: Parmesan Crusted Zucchini Cakes with Heirloom Tomato Sauce

This is going to be the first in a new series of posts we’ll occasionally feature on the blog.  It’s all well and good to cook healthy; low saturated fats, avoiding sugar and other simple carbs, etc.  But there’s so much more we can do for our health than simply watch our calories and/or what type of calories we’re eating.  Don’t get me wrong, that’s important, but you guys are capable of so much more than that.  Not only are we going to start delivering healthy, sensible food choices, we’re going to deliver recipes that are heavy on the things you should be eating more of.   These things are sometimes called “superfoods”, and they deliver a nutritionally packed punch of awesomeness.

In case it wasn’t clear, the term superfoods isn’t exactly scientifically regulated.  The term is often used to describe foods that are especially high in anti-oxidants, phytochemicals, and/or other substances that help us prevent diseases like cancer, heart disease, and other ailments which we’d all pretty much love to avoid.  I’m not making any claims that eating these foods or recipes will 100% prevent you from developing cancer; all I’m saying is, scientific studies have suggested these “superfoods” are likely to prevent the ailments described above and encourage us to eat more of them.

As I mentioned, the recipes in our ‘Cooking with Superfoods’ series will make heavy use of superfoods, thus giving you new tasty and healthy food options.  For those on our fitness plans, combining these recipes with what you’re currently doing is a great way to fuel yourself and your progress.

Parmesan Crusted Zucchini Cakes with Heirloom Tomato Sauce

  • 3 medium to large zucchini, shredded
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 1 pound heirloom cherry tomatoes (okay to use non-heirloom as well)
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat italian breadcrumbs
  • 1/8 cup panko
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 handful shredded basil
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Whole wheat flour to dust
  • Canola oil

Super Foods in this recipe: Heirloom tomato, zucchini, garlic.  

Heirloom tomato – Anti-oxidants fighting free radicals, prostate cancer and stomach cancer among other forms.  Full of vitamin A and C which are great sources for eye and hair health.

Zucchini – High on potassium, folate, fiber, and vitamins A and C.  Contribute towards a healthy heart and are linked towards lower risk of stroke, reduced blood pressure, and lower cholesterol.

Garlic – Contains immune system stimulant, allicin as well as other anti-biotic properties.  Garilc may prevent cancers of the stomach, colon, breast, and prostate.  Also beneficial for cardiovascular health due to its vasodilating benefits and ability to remove triglycerides and dissolve internal clots.



1.  Begin by shredding zucchini into a large bowl.  Once all zucchini has been shredded, sprinkle with salt and let sit for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes, use several paper towels to absorb as much liquid as possible from the shredded zucchini.  The more dry you’re able to get the zucchini, the better form your cakes will hold while cooking.

2.  Add minced garlic, cayenne, pepper, and paprika.  Toss to evenly distribute spices.  Break your egg up in a bowl, and add to zucchini mixture.  Toss a little more so the mixture becomes moist.  Add parmesan, bread crumbs, and panko.  Toss well so mixture begins to solidify but does NOT become completely solid and bready.  We’re using these ingredients as binders to simply hold things together, not create cakes that have the density of meatballs.

3.  On a plate, sprinkle a little flour and parmesan.  Lightly dust each side of your zucchini cakes by dropping them into the flour/parmesan mixture.  Once you’ve dusted them all, place them in a refridgetor and allow them to set for 10-15 minutes. 

4.  In a pan over medium-high heat, add a little canola oil, some garlic, a small handful of shredded zucchini, and your heirloom tomatoes.  Leave the tomatoes undisturbed until their skins begin to crack.  Begin to toss and mash the tomatoes down as you continue cooking on medium high heat for 5-7  minutes. 

This sauce had been simmering roughly 5 minutes. Let it go a little while longer to so it thickens in consistency.

5.  Lower heat and simmer until you’ve got a nice consistency for your sauce, about 6-8 additional minutes.  This sauce should be more like a ragu/compote than a more traditional tomato sauce.  Once you’ve just about reached your desired consistency, add the shredded basil, simmer for 1 more minute, then remove from heat and set aside.

Give your cakes space to "breath" so they don't steam and are able to develop a nice crunchy crust.

6.  In a different pan, heat enough canola oil to cover the bottom of the pan over medium-high heat.  Make sure each zucchini cake has enough room and isn’t touching another cake as you add them to the pan.  Cook 4-5 minutes per side, flipping once.  With 1-2 minutes of cooking time left, sprinkle cakes with additional parmesan and press lightly to hep it stick.  Flip the cales over so the parmesan crusted side is against the hot pan.  Allow your zucchini cake to cook another minute so the parmesan is able to form a nice crunchy and flavorful crust. 

7.  Plate zucchini cakes, slather with your heirloom tomato sauce, and serve!


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