Zucchini Rice Gratin
One of my favorite things about New York is the easy access to great farmer’s market finds. Every Monday/Wednesday/Friday/Saturday Union Square hosts a Greenmarket where you can find everything from fresh veggies to gorgeous wild flowers to artisanal cheeses. Tres bon, no?
It is the perfect place to go when you have a lovely dinner in mind and you want the freshest, most flavorful ingredients. Talk about some colorful inspiration, right?
Now that I’ve had a little time to get settled in my new digs, I wanted to break in the kitchen with this seasonal Smitten Kitchen recipe for Zucchini Rice Gratin. Let me preface my success by saying the last four ranges I’ve had have all been electric. This blue flame instantaneous stuff is all new to me -apparently I’ve practically been working with a slow cooker all these years.
Since I wasn’t quite acquainted with the heat of my new oven, half of my beautiful grape tomatoes shamefully went to waste and there is still a baking sheet soaking in my sink. Luckily enough, the zucchini was roasted to perfection and there was just enough cheese and good bits of salvageable tomato to not only deem this edible, but pretty darn delicious. The next time I try this recipe, I will certainly use plum rather than grape tomatoes and add a layer of panko bread crumbs for a little crunch. Until then, I will look forward to reporting back on a (more) successful cooking experience in my new kitchen!
Zucchini Rice Gratin
1/3 cup uncooked white rice, long-grain is suggested but use whatever you prefer
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 pounds zucchini (about 3 medium), sliced 1/4-inch thick
1/2 pound plum tomatoes, sliced 1/4-inch thick – (I ended up using cherry tomatoes I found at the Farmer’s Market and I think plum would be best)
Table salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 medium onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup grated Parmesan, divided
Preheat oven to 450°F. Cook the rice according to your favorite method. While rice cooks, coat two large baking sheets each with a tablespoon of a of olive oil. Spread zucchini and tomato slices on the baking sheets in as close to a single layer as you can. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Roast tomatoes for 10 minutes and zucchini for 20. Flip zucchini halfway through; it’s not worth the messy effort for the tomatoes. Leave oven on.
Heat large, heavy skillet (such as the one you used to cook your rice) over medium heat. Once hot, add 2 tablespoons olive oil, heat oil, then add onions, garlic and 1/4 teaspoon salt to pan. Cover and reduce heat to low, cooking onion until limp and tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.
Combine onion mixture, rice, eggs, thyme, half of your grated cheese and a half-tablespoon of olive oil in a bowl. Add a good amount of freshly ground black pepper. Use the remaining half-tablespoon of olive oil to coat a shallow 2-quart baking dish. Spread half of rice mixture in bottom of dish. Arrange half of roasted zucchini on top. Spread remaining rice mixture over it. Arrange remaining zucchini on top, then tomato slices. Sprinkle with remaining grated cheese and bake until set and golden brown, about 20 minutes.