Zucchini bounty in August is a mixed blessing. The zucchini is at peak flavor, but can one really enjoy eating pounds of it week after week? Though tempted to try Kristin’s Chocolate Zucchini Cake from last week, I knew my currently dieting husband would not touch cake. In search of something less sweet, I stumbled across a well-reviewed Zucchini Rice Gratin recipe on Epicurious.com and gave it a try. Let me tell you, the reviewers were not wrong. This casserole-type dish is amazing.
I have not posted a barbeque chicken recipe since everyone seems to have their own favorite method, but I will share three tips for good chicken. One, don’t bother with chicken breasts; they dry out too fast and have minimal flavor. Two, use indirect heat to ensure even cooking without charring. Three, apply sauce only after the chicken has been cooked.
Zucchini Rice Gratin
from Gourmet, March 2008
Serves 6 (side dish servings)
1/3 cup (60 g) long-grain white rice (or about 3/4 cup cooked rice)
1 1/2 lb (680 g) zucchini (about 3 medium), sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
6 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 lb (225 g) 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 (60 g) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, divided
Preheat oven to 450°F (230°C) with racks in upper and lower thirds. Cook rice according to package instructions. (Note: I used 3/4 cup cooked, leftover rice.)
While rice cooks, toss the zucchini with 1 tablespoon oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a shallow baking pan. Toss the tomatoes with 1/2 tablespoon oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt in another baking pan. Roast the zucchini in the upper third of the oven and the tomatoes in the lower third, turning the vegetables once halfway through roasting, until tender and light golden, about 10 minutes for tomatoes and 20 minutes for zucchini. Leave the oven on.
Meanwhile, cook the onion and garlic with 1/2 teaspoon salt in 2 tablespoons oil in a large heavy skillet, covered, over a low heat, stirring occasionally until very tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
Stir together the onion mixture, cooked rice, eggs, thyme, 1/4 cup (30 g) cheese, 1 tablespoon oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Spread half the rice mixture in a shallow 2‑quart baking dish, then top with half the zucchini. Spread the remaining rice mixture over the zucchini, then top with the remaining zucchini. Top with tomatoes and drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil, then sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake in the upper third of the oven until set and golden brown, about 20 minutes.
Grilled Corn on the Cob
Grilling corn is a great way to bring out its natural sweetness and to avoid heating up your kitchen on a hot day. To prepare, soak ears of corn (as fresh as possible) in a sink of cold water for 20 to 30 minutes. Drain. Cook ears on the grill over a medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes, or until tender, turning once or twice while cooking. Remove husks from corn. Serve with salt, pepper, and butter.