Zucchini and Rice Gratin Provencal Style

7 04 2010
Usually I wait until the heart of the summer to start cooking with zucchini. That is when my mother gives me a never-ending supply from her garden. However, I happened to have a few zucchini in my refrigerator yesterday, so I guess I was anticipating that bountiful harvest and the lovely fresh tastes of summer produce. I put together this gratin dish in under an hour. Of course, using a pressure cooker to cook the brown rice sped up the process. You can put together all of the parts to this recipe while the rice is cooking. Then simply assemble and bake. This recipe can be made up to a day in advance before the final baking, making it an ideal dish for entertaining. Once again, I used EVOO’s Tuscan Herb olive oil for roasting the vegetables and drizzling on the rice. You can use just plain extra virgin olive oil, but you may want to add more herbs like some fresh basil and oregano.

1 cup long grain brown rice

3 – 4 medium zucchini, sliced crosswise into 1/4 inch thick slices (about 1 1/2 pounds)

7 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or EVOO Tuscan Herb Olive Oil

5 plum tomatoes, sliced crosswise into 1/4 inch thick slices

1 medium onion, halved lengthwise and cut into thin slices

3 garlic cloves finely chopped

3 eggs, lightly beaten

1 tbsp chopped thyme, or 1 tsp dried thyme

Other provencal herbs like oregano or basil, chopped finely (optional)

sea salt and black pepper, to taste

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees placing racks in bottom and top thirds of the oven.

Cook rice either in a pressure cooker or in a pot.

Meanwhile toss the zucchini with 1 tbsp olive oil and some sea salt. Lay out on a baking sheet. Do the same with the tomato slices and lay out on a separate baking sheet. Bake in the oven, turning once, until lightly golden brown for the zucchini and the tomatoes begin to shrivel. (About 20 minutes)

In the meantime, saute the onions and garlic in 2 tbsp olive oil for a few minutes then turn heat to low and cover saute pan. Allow onions to sweat until very tender, stirring occasionally.

Stir together onion mixture, rice, eggs, thyme, sea salt and pepper, 1 tbsp of olive oil and half of the parmesan cheese. Spread half of the rice mixture in a shallow 2-quart casserole dish. Top with half of the zucchini slices. Spread the remaining rice mixture over the zucchini then top with the remaining zucchini. Top with the tomato slices. Sprinkle with some salt and pepper. Drizzle the remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil over the top and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese. (The recipe can be made up to this point 1 day ahead and refrigerated. Remove from refrigerator and bring to room temperature before the final baking.)

Bake in the hot oven until hot and bubbly, about 20 minutes.


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