This is an impressive dish, especially when brought whole to the table. When it is cut, the layers of red, green and black fillings are revealed. The flavors are complimentary, the texture moist and tender. Serve it with something simple such as a fresh garden salad and croissants.
There are many parts to this dish and preparation time is considerable. All parts, however, can be prepared ahead of time for assembly just prior to baking. Assembly takes approximately 15 minutes.
Crepe Batter Ingredients:
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup water
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 pound ripe Roma tomatoes
4 tablespoons virgin olive oil
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried basil
Salt and pepper to taste
sugar (if necessary)
5 medium zucchini
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasonings
1 11-ounce jar of pitted Kalamata olives (drained and chopped fine)
4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese (grated)
8 ounces plain Gouda cheese (sliced thin)
Combine all batter ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Refrigerate for at least one hour prior to making crepes. Cook eight to nine 8-inch crepes (they should resemble thin pancakes) and set aside. Wrap them in plastic or put in a baggie to keep them from drying out. Set aside.
Tomato Directions: Submerge the tomatoes in boiling water to a count of ten. Remove them from the water; then peel, seed and chop them finely. Warm 2 1/2 tablespoons of the olive oil and add 2 tablespoons of the onion. Cook the onion until it has begun to soften, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and basil. Cook over medium heat until the tomato has broken down and the liquid is completely reduced – about 15 minutes. The sauce should be thick and fairly dry so that it will moisten the crepes without making them soggy. Season to taste with salt and pepper, adding a pinch or two of sugar to adjust for excessive tartness, if necessary. Set aside.
Zucchini Directions: Grate the zucchini on the large hole of a hand grater or in a food processor. Toss it with 1/2 teaspoon salt, and set aside for 1/2 hour to draw out the juices. Then squeeze out the excess liquid with your hands, or wrap the zucchini in the corner of a clean kitchen towel and firmly twist the ends. Heat a tablespoon of oil and add the rest of the onions and the Italian seasonings. Cook until the onion is soft; then add the zucchini. Stir frequently, and cook until all the moisture is gone and the pan is dry – approximately 6 or 7 minutes. Season with salt, if needed, and pepper. Set aside.
Olive Directions: If you are using whole olives, press on them with the heel of your palm to split them open, then pull out the pits. Chop finely and moisten with a little olive oil. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
To assemble the cake, first lightly oil or grease the baking dish. Plan to bake the cake in a dish it will be served in, or on the flat bottom of a tart pan, which can be later transferred to a platter. As you work, make sure that each filling is spread to the edge of the crepe, or the cake will droop and become difficult to layer.
Lay down the first crepe. Brush it with a tablespoon of the tomato sauce, cover it with a third of the zucchini mixture, and dust it with a tablespoon of Parmesan. Add the second crepe, spread it with tomato sauce, and a third of the olives. Add the third crepe; spread it with tomato sauce, and cover it with approximately half of the Gouda. Repeat the first three layers.
Next, add a crepe with tomato sauce and zucchini and another with tomato sauce and olives. Cover the cake with the last crepe, brush it with tomato sauce and sprinkle on the remaining Parmesan.
Cover the completed cake loosely with foil, and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 10 minutes or until the cake is hot in the center.