The March 2008 issue of Gourmet came the other day, and I decided to make the recipe for zucchini rice gratin. It was really good, but from start to finish, it took nearly 1.5 hours, which in my opinion is far too long for a side dish. The one thing that really bothered me about this recipe is that it is advertised as a quick dish for taking 25 minutes, but you must look closely at the recipe, because that’s 25 minutes of prep time, but nearly 1.5 hours of total time. I’d have to give Gourmet an F for misleading its readers. Overall we liked the dish, but given the time it takes to make, I probably would only make it again if we are having guests over.
- 1/3 cup long-grain white rice
- 1 1/2 lb zucchini (about 3 medium), sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
- 6 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1/2 lb plum 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 teaspoon chopped thyme
- 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, divided
Preheat oven to 450°F with racks in upper and lower thirds.
Cook rice according to package instructions.
While rice cooks, 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.
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.
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.
Stir together onion mixture, cooked 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 drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons oil, then sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cheese.
Bake in upper third of oven until set and golden brown, about 20 minutes.
Zucchini Rice Gratin:
This basic recipe comes from Gourmet. It is excellent! The roasted veggies melt in your mouth. I added red pepper to the roasted veggie medley, because I had one in my fridge I needed to use up and I thought it would be tasty. Definitely a great dish to bring to a pot luck, picnic, or any other event where the food will sit out. A definite crowd pleaser with lots of flavor!
- 1.5 lbs eggplant, diced into 1.5 inch cubes
- 3/4 lbs zucchini, diced into 1.5 inch cubes
- 1 red pepper, julienned (my addition)
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup chopped green onion
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1.25 cups pearl barley
- 2.5 – 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
Roast Eggplant, Zucchini, Red Pepper, and Tomatoes:
- Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 425°F.
- Toss eggplant, zucchini, red pepper, and tomatoes with 5 tablespoons oil, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper in a bowl, then spread in 2 oiled large shallow (1-inch-deep) baking pans.
- Roast vegetables in oven, stirring occasionally and switching position of pans halfway through baking, until vegetables are golden brown and tender, 20 to 25 minutes total.
- Combine vegetables in 1 pan and cool, reserving other pan for cooling barley.
- Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 3- to 4-quart heavy pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then cook scallion, cumin, coriander, and cayenne, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add barley and cook, stirring until well coated with oil, 2 minutes more.
- Add broth and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until all of liquid is absorbed and barley is tender, 30 to 40 minutes.
- Remove from heat and let stand, covered, 5 minutes.
- Transfer to reserved shallow baking pan and spread to quickly cool, uncovered, to room temperature, about 20 minutes. (I skipped this step and just assembled the salad)
Make Dressing and Assemble Salad:
- Whisk together lemon juice, garlic, sugar, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 3 tablespoons oil in a large bowl.
- Add barley, roasted vegetables, and remaining ingredients to bowl with dressing and toss until combined well.
Mediterranean Eggplant and Barley Salad: