Thursday, September 5, 2013

Zucchini Rice Gratin

I've been slowly publishing the many zucchini recipes I tried this season because it seemed like it would never end. Much to my relief, my zucchini plant seems to finally be slowing down. After spending several hours Labor Day weekend I'm finally caught up and have a lot of recipes to share before the zucchini growing season is over entirely. In addition to my zucchini, I have a couple of heirloom tomatoes plants that are putting out a fine, though modest crop, and this recipe was the perfect meal to represent my garden's bounty.

The list of ingredients here is short, the flavor relying on the quality of the produce and the Parmesan cheese -that green can of Kraft and supermarket tomatoes just won't cut it here. It doesn't get more fresh and local than the backyard and while I could lay down some serious money for imported Parmigiano-Reggiano, I opt for Hook's Parmesan. It's surprising how just that modest amount of cheese, a couple of eggs, and some olive oil make this feel exceptionally rich, the rice adding just enough to make this as a light meal for four with a side salad and slice of crusty bread. It may have unofficially turned to fall with the passing of Labor Day, but I'm anxious to hold on to these tastes of summer just a little bit longer.

Zucchini Rice Gratin
adapted from Gourmet, March 2008
makes 4 to 6 (side dish) servings

1 cup prepared brown rice
1 1/2 pounds zucchini (about 3 medium), sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
4 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 pound tomatoes, sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
1 medium onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 dried thyme
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Parmigiano-Reggiano, divided

1. Preheat oven to 450°F with racks in upper and lower thirds.

2. Toss zucchini with 1 tablespoon oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a shallow baking pan. Toss tomatoes with 1/2 tablespoon oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt in another baking pan.

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

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

5. Stir together onion mixture, wild rice, eggs, thyme, 1/4 cup cheese, 1 tablespoon oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Spread half of rice mixture in a shallow 2-quart baking dish, then top with half of zucchini. Spread remaining rice mixture over zucchini, then top with remaining zucchini. Top with tomatoes and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cheese.

6. Bake in upper third of oven until set and golden brown, about 20 minutes.

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