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Dishes fromImma Tataranni’s Kitchen

Baked Zucchini with Bread Crumbs

Written by Linda SarrisPhotos by Luisa Misseri

Seasons 3 coming Spring 2023!
EDITOR'S NOTE: When we reached out to Chef Linda Sarris about a recipe series based on Matera's own Deputy Prosecutor Imma Tataranni, she immediately said, "Yes! And would you believe I just returned from a trip to Matera in Basilicata?" We think you'll agree, Linda's first-hand knowledge of the food, people and culture of Matera deliciously inform these Imma Tataranni inspired recipes!

Zucchine Gratinate

Baked Zucchini with Bread Crumbs

Pair this recipe with:

Watch all of Italian mystery series Imma Tataranni now streaming on MHz Choice.


Italian side dishes or “contorni” usually consist of sautéed seasonal greens, salads or roasted vegetables that go along with a main course. Generally the vegetables are served after a portion of pasta to help amp up a small serving of grilled or roasted fish or meat. 

Fresh zucchini are in season during the summer and fall but if they are grown in greenhouses, they’ll be available all year round, and can be used in a variety of ways whether you want to fry them, shred into crisp salads or roast in the oven. The small green zucchini we will use for this recipe are easy to find in any country but here in Italy they are known as “zucchine genovese”. 

Special homestyle dishes frequently pop up in Imma Tataranni’s mystery series. In Episode 4, Imma was at home preparing her suitcase for an out of town work trip to investigate the suspicious death of the Honorable Luigi Lombardi’s lover. Of course Imma’s mother-in-law stopped by the house to make sure her darling son would have food to eat while his wife was away. Always prepared and whip-smart, Imma reassured them both that she had already stocked the fridge with Pietro’s favorites, including a lasagna, some scamorza cheese, an eggplant parmigiana and this Zucchine Gratinate dish. 

Zucchine Gratinate

Notes from the Chef:

When selecting produce in your market or grocery store, make sure to pick the straight, slim and dark green zucchini as opposed to the oblong squash-shaped ones; since these will have more seeds and a higher water content. Check that the zucchini are not bruised or scraped in any way. Since you do not need to peel them, make sure they are washed and dried properly before slicing for this recipe. 

The grated cheese and breadcrumb mixture contributes to the flavor and texture combination of this dish. Pay attention to how much salt you need to add to the mixture since the grated cheese you use might be salty enough that you do not need to add any more. Taste a pinch of the breadcrumb mixture before breading the zucchini and adjust with salt and pepper if necessary.

6 small green zucchini, cut lengthwise in 1/4-inch slices
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 c. breadcrumbs
1/4 c. grated pecorino or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

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fresh rosemary, picked from the stem and roughly chopped
zest of 1 lemon
black pepper + sea salt to taste

Thinly slice the zucchini and toss in a big bowl with the extra virgin olive oil. In a separate bowl, prepare the breadcrumbs with the grated cheese, chopped rosemary, lemon zest, freshly cracked pepper and a sprinkle of sea salt. Coat both sides of the zucchini slices with the breadcrumbs and press the mixture into each piece to form a nice crust. Line a sheet tray with baking paper and coat with a light drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to prevent the zucchini from sticking to the pan. I prefer to use baking paper instead of aluminum foil since the foil tends to rip more easily when scooping the cooked vegetables off when they are finished. 


Lay the breaded zucchini pieces close together on the baking sheet without overlapping. Bake the zucchini in a pre-heated oven at 180°C/350°F for about 10 minutes until the outside is well toasted to a golden brown color and the zucchini are cooked all the way through. Serve right away to preserve their crisp texture.

On the Table in Basilicata: Dishes from Imma Tataranni’s Kitchen Recipes

About the Chef
Linda Sarris is a food/wine travel consultant and private chef based in Palermo, Sicily. From her sun-lit kitchen studio above the 1,000 year-old Ballarò food market, Linda works as a freelance writer, social media manager, and culinary communications consultant while still traveling regularly for private chef work with clients in the fashion and music industries. Under her brand, @thecheekychef, she is self-publishing a Sicilian food and wine ‘zine and curates a series of Mediterranean culinary/lifestyle retreats and travel experiences. Her first book will be published in 2022 with Hachette Book Group.