Healthy Choices / Low Fat / Quick and Easy / Rice / See Hatsie Cook / Sides / Summer Recipes / Vegetables / Vegetarian / Weeknight Meals

Cook: Zucchini and Tomato Rice Gratin

I’m currently in the process of packing up all the things in this tiny apartment so I can move to another tiny apartment down the street.  I’m realizing a few things, like I’m pretty sure I have a future as a consultant on how to fit stuff that you don’t need and takes up precious space you didn’t even know you had, into a space the size of a walk-in closet.  I’m really good at it.
I’m also really good at hoarding paper– I have saved everything that I have either paid or signed for like, the past four years.  I found an electricity bill from my college house, which was four years and a another state ago.  I shredded it all yesterday and filled an entire trash bag.  Of paper.  Why?
I’m going through my kitchen today and tossing or donating all the pots, pans, utensils and dishes that I no longer use.  I’m dubbing this new apartment my “big girl apartment” which probably means that it’s the opposite since I’m calling it my “big girl apartment,” but in my mind that means that I’m only taking things that I either need in order to live or that are nice enough that I will keep forever.  Like my Le Crueset.  Or my cast iron pots and pans.  Or my super sharp, super long chefs knife.  You know, the essentials.  
In the meantime I have one more easy, simple, vegetarian dish with the simple promise that there will be more variety to come.  Sprinkles are in your future.  Isn’t that a happy thought?  This Zucchini and Tomato Rice Gratin is a flavorful way to use up all those Summer vegetables and can be served as a side to your favorite main dish, or be like me and just serve it up in a bowl and call it dinner.
I think my favorite thing about this dish is that the texture of the gratin reminded me of that old school chicken and rice casserole that everyone’s mom made.  You know the one?  It’s nothing like that, ingredient wise, and yet this fresh Summer dish somehow reminds me of old-school comfort food.  I like that.
The zucchini and tomatoes get a really nice, deep flavor from their roasting time in the oven, so while it may seem like a time- and dish-saver to just saute them in the skillet with the onions and garlic, don’t.  Roasting is worth it.
And that’s it!  A simple, Summer dish that requires no less than six different pots, pans, and bowls to make.  I’m usually all about one-dish-wonders, but this is worth the dish washing later.  And I never say that.  Make this before all this beautiful Summer bounty goes away!
And if anyone wants to come help me pack, I’ll make you cookies.  
Here’s the recipe!
Zucchini and Tomato Rice Gratin (Adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
  • 1 cup uncooked long grain white rice (and whatever liquid you choose to cook it–I chose chicken stock but water would work too.  Follow package instructions for amounts!)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 3 medium zucchini, sliced into rounds
  • 2 plum tomatoes, sliced into rounds
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (or 1 teaspoon fresh)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Line baking sheets with foil and place zucchini and tomatoes on baking sheets in a single layer.  Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil per pan and season with salt and pepper.  Roast tomatoes for about 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, cook rice according to package instructions.  Also, in a medium skillet, add remaining olive oil and cook onions and garlic on medium low heat until completely softened.  When rice is finished, fluff with a fork and add onion/garlic mixture.  Add a couple of tablespoons of hot rice to the egg and mix, just to warm the eggs up.  Then add the egg to the rice and mix well.  Season with salt and pepper then add half of your grated Parmesan cheese. Mix to combine.
  3. In yet another prepared casserole dish, one on the smaller side, add half the rice mixture, then half the zucchini.  Top with half of the remaining Parmesan cheese, then add the rest of the rice.  Top with remaining zucchini, then lay tomatoes in an even layer over zucchini.  Add the rest of the Parmesan cheese on top and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until slightly browned on top.
  4. Serve as a side to any main dish or as is.  Top with an egg if you’re feeling extra fancy!

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