TUSCANY, Italy -- August gardens and markets are abundant with zucchini and so it's natural to incorporate this summer squash into a satisfying, healthy meal.

Collaborating with my friend Maria Michali, spending the summer at Gavillaccio with her family, she prepared this light, flakey dish featuring just-picked zucchini that can be served as a first course or 'primo piatto' (first dish) as the Italians say.

While Maria used a variety of green zucchini, use what you find at your local market or picked from your garden. Originally from Athens, Greece, Maria improvised using phyllo dough, very thin pastry, and the flakey layers of crust were light and delicious! Buon appetito!

MARIA'S ZUCCHINI TARTE with PHYLLO CRUST

Serves 8

INGREDIENTS

2 cups sliced green zucchini

3 shallots, chopped

1 Tbsp unsalted butter

2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil + more to drizzle

1/4 Tsp salt

1/4 Tsp fresh ground black pepper

4-5 fresh basil leaves

250 grams (almost 9 ounces) Emmentaler (Swiss) cheese, grated

1/2 cup Ricotta cheese

2 eggs

1 cup plain Greek yogurt

1 package of phyllo dough, room temperature, separated

PREP

Add to a sauté pan over medium heat, butter plus 2 tablespoons of olive oil and stir; add the zucchini and shallots and sauté for 10-12 minutes, stirring constantly.


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Season with salt and pepper, add basil leaves; remove from heat and set aside.

In a medium bowl, add grated Swiss and Ricotta cheeses, eggs and yogurt, combine with a spoon. Stir in zucchini and shallot mixture, stir to combine.

Drizzle olive oil into glass pie dish and line with several (2 -3) sheets of phyllo dough. Add mixture onto phyllo, spread evenly then top with several more sheets of phyllo; fold and crimp the edges by hand. Drizzle the top, including edges, with olive oil and prick a few holes in the top layer of phyllo. Splash with a tiny bit of water, the top of the tarte.

Bake at 350F degrees for 45-55 minutes until the center is set and the phyllo is golden brown and puffed.

Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, cut into 8 slices and serve warm.