Monday, June 14, 2010

The Zucchini Obsession, Continued: Zucchini Rice Gratin

So I've previously mentioned that I'm having zucchini issues. I made this recipe because not only did I want to eat some zucchini, but I also needed a way to dispose of the 4 pounds of it that I had inadvertently bought the other day. I know--how do you 'inadvertantly' buy something? In this case, I blame it on my zucchini addiction, but I don't have a good explanation for how I accidentally bought some bacon.

If you, like me, are having a zucchini issue and need a way to disguise it when serving it to your family so that you maybe don't hear, "Zucchini again?" then this might be the dish for you. The zucchini is sufficiently present to satisfy an addiction, but because it's layered with other ingredients, you might be able to pass it by your family without too many complaints.

This recipe was adapted from Epicurious and lightened in the process. It has a small amount of rice, which can be just right when you want a side that will be satisfying but not too heavy. If fact, you could probably even make this dish as a light meal. With the tomatoes, zucchini and fresh herbs, it has some of the best flavors of summer all rolled into one.

Zucchini Rice Gratin
(Adapted from Epicurious)

-1/2 cup rice (white or brown, your choice)
-3 pounds zucchini (about 6 medium), sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
-Olive oil
-1/2 pounds plum tomatoes, sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
-1 medium onion, diced
-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
-1 large egg, lightly beaten
-1 teaspoon chopped thyme
-1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
-1 tablespoon chiffonade of fresh basil
-1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
-Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 450°F with racks in upper and lower thirds.
Cook rice according to package instructions

While rice cooks, toss zucchini with 1 tablespoon oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a foil-lined, shallow baking pan. Toss tomatoes with 1/2 tablespoon oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt in another foil-lined baking pan.

Roast zucchini and tomatoes in the oven, turning vegetables once halfway through roasting, until tender and light golden, about 10 minutes for tomatoes; 20 minutes for zucchini. Leave oven on. 

Meanwhile, cook onion and garlic with 1/2 teaspoon salt in 1 tablespoon oil in a large heavy skillet, over low heat, stirring occasionally, until very tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

Stir together onion mixture, cooked rice, eggs, thyme, oregano, cheese, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Spread the rice mixture in a shallow 2-quart baking dish, then top with the tomatoes. Top with the zucchini. Sprinkle the top with the basil.
Bake in upper third of oven until set and golden brown, about 20 minutes.

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