Share the Wealth

We’re well into the time of year where a little knock on the door may send you running for cover.  Because this is the time of year when that little knock from a friendly neighbor means one of two things.  Tomatoes.  Or zucchini.

I was lucky enough to be a recipient of the former just the other day.  So I roasted the former with some of the latter, and pulled together Deb’s zucchini rice gratin.  Which I would like to rename TOMATO zucchini rice gratin, because, to me, the tomatoes were the star.  They were home grown, vibrantly red, and juicy beyond my wildest dreams.  And they, with a little help from some Parmesan cheese, take this over the top.

This gratin is packed with summer flavors, and light enough that you can still put a bathing suit on after a helping for lunch.

It also solved my age-old what-do-I-do-when-Ina’s-vegetable-tian-produces-a-veritable-soup-at-the-bottom-of-the-pan question.

Answer:  I layer cooked rice with the onions in the bottom, and that absorbs any and all errant juices.

To make this as a side dish for 4, you will need:

  • 1/3 C (uncooked) rice, or 1 C leftover cooked rice
  • olive oil
  • 2 or 3 medium zucchini, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1/2 lb. tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 C grated Parmesan, divided

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Place tomatoes and zucchini on baking sheets, and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.  Not too much salt, as there will be salt in almost every step of this dish, and you don’t want to overdo it.  Roast tomatoes for 10 minutes, zucchini for 20.  When you take the tomatoes out, flip the zucchini over to let the other side crisp up.  While that’s going on, cook rice according to your favorite method (side note–this was my husband’s and my first fight in our relationship).

Heat large, heavy (oven-safe) skillet with 2 T oil, and add onions, garlic, and another sprinkle of salt.  Cover, reduce heat to low, and let cook, stirring occasionally for 15-20 minutes, until onions are limp and tender.  If you had the time and/or patience, you could keep going and caramelize them to make the dish a little more indulgent.  Add the onion mixture, eggs, thyme, and half of the cheese to the cooked rice, stirring till combined.  Throw in a generous grind of black pepper too, if you like how it feels.

Add another T olive oil to the bottom of that heavy bottomed pan.  Layer half onion mixture in the bottom.  Top with an even layer of zucchini, using about half of what you roasted.  Spread another layer of the onion mixture on top of that, and repeat with the remaining zucchini.  Top with tomatoes, and top that with cheese.  Pop the gratin in the oven for about 20 minutes, until the eggs have done their thing to hold the mixture together, and the cheese is golden brown.


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