zucchini, tomato and rice gratin

As promised, I am here to aid you with you midsummer afternoon’s zucchini nightmare, er, bounty. But please, just because I try to help people who weren’t wary enough of friends bearing baskets of zucchini doesn’t mean that I should be mistaken for someone who never lets zucchini expire on her watch. I went away for the weekend and left my last haul to meet a terrible end in my kitchen. Let this gratin be my zucchini repentance.

sliced zucchini
lightly roasted tomatoes and zucchini

I started making this zucchini rice gratin a few years ago. At the time, well, rice wasn’t my thing. I wouldn’t say I didn’t like it, just that it never, ever occurred to me to make it, which likely related to the fact that I burned it 100% of the time I made it, which led to pot-soaking and -scrubbing and a plague about our apartment known as a Grumpy Dishwasher. It hardly seemed worth it for a bit of rice. I’ve since figured out that nearly every package of rice lists the wrong amount of water (I always need more) and that on the gas stoves I’ve had, even the thinnest wisp of a flame, the lowest I can make it before the burner goes out entirely, will cook my rice in about 2/3 of the suggested time. I share these tips just in case any of you out there also need to go to Rice Remedial School, though you guys seem smart. I bet you’ve got this figured out already, and long before you wrote a cookbook that uses it no less than three times.

mixing rice, onions, herbs, parmesan

cooking the onions
layering the zucchini
zucchini rice gratin

I’ve since become — with the coaching of a toddler who will happily ingest it at almost every meal — a person who really, really likes rice and rarely burns it (insert a slow clap here) and this is one of the dishes that brought on the transformation. Rice baked in a casserole dish with roasted vegetables and a bit of onions, herbs and cheese is very good summer thing. The edges get crunchy, the grains absorb all of the vegetables’ released juices, and you get to put something on the table that hits nearly every food group. How is that, you ask? There are eggs in here. It’s really the strangest thing, so strange that I used to skip them, but I urge you not to as it makes the rice almost omelet-y and cohesive and this gratin a total one-pot meal. At the end of the evening, you’ll have bellies full of roasted summer happiness, zucchini about as tasty as it gets outside the cake files, and if you planned better than I did, some crisp white wine.

at the table, with salad

Another rice gratin: So, I really try to avoid doing this thing where I insert a falsely casual “Hey, did I tell you about my cookbook coming out this fall?” in every post because I am sure long time readers are sick of hearing about it by now. But! Today, I just have to because one of my favorite dishes in the book, one I cannot resist telling you about any longer, I also call a rice gratin, though about the only things these two dishes have in common is the name. It’s hearty and very fall/winter-ish; it would be great on a Thanksgiving table. It involves wild rice, greens, caramelized onions, a nutty cheese and breadcrumbs and it makes a spectacular amount of gratin. When we make it at home, we reheat it for a few nights as a dinner side-dish and everyone inhales it. It’s warm and filling and I hope you will love it too.

Two years ago: Nectarine Brown Butter Buckle and Sweet and Smoky Oven Spareribs
Three years ago: Sour Cherry Slab Pie and Cantaloupe Salsa
Four years ago: Garlic Mustard Glazed Skewers
Five years ago: Zucchini Bread and Nectarine and Blackberry Galette

Zucchini Rice Gratin
Adapted from Gourmet, March 2008

My prior quibbles about this dish were that it always stuck to the pan (I try to alleviate this by having you oil your baking dish), was way too salty (and we are hardly salt-phobes, thus I’ve reduced the total amount from 1 1/2 teaspoons to 3/4 teaspoon; feel free to add more if you find it needs it), and that it used too many dishes. You can reduce your dishload by lining your zucchini baking sheet with aluminum foil (tomatoes are reactive with aluminum so I’d leave their tray bare) and hoping that you’ll consider using one skillet for the rice and onions. Despite the fact that I couldn’t reduce the moderate dishload further, we’ve never once felt that this dish wasn’t worth the extra suds.

Serves: 4 to 6 as a side

1/3 cup uncooked white rice, long-grain is suggested but use whatever you prefer
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 pounds zucchini (about 3 medium), sliced 1/4-inch thick
1/2 pound plum tomatoes, sliced 1/4-inch thick
Table salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 medium onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup grated Parmesan, divided

Preheat oven to 450°F. Cook the rice according to your favorite method. The package directions work in some cases, but check my notes above about adjustments I find I have to make. If you cook the rice in a large, wide-ish covered skillet, it might cook even faster but you’ll have the chance to use it again (and save on dirty dishes) when you need to cook the onions in a bit.

While rice cooks, coat two large (or, if you have the same pitifully small oven as I do, three smaller) baking sheets each with a tablespoon of a of olive oil (a bit less for smaller pans). Spread zucchini and tomato slices on the baking sheets in as close to a single layer as you can. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Roast tomatoes for 10 minutes and zucchini for 20. Flip zucchini halfway through; it’s not worth the messy effort for the tomatoes. Leave oven on.

Heat large, heavy skillet (such as the one you used to cook your rice) over medium heat. Once hot, add 2 tablespoons olive oil, heat oil, then add onions, garlic and 1/4 teaspoon salt to pan. Cover and reduce heat to low, cooking onion until limp and tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Combine onion mixture, rice, eggs, thyme, half of your grated cheese and a half-tablespoon of olive oil in a bowl. Add a good amount of freshly ground black pepper. Use the remaining half-tablespoon of olive oil to coat a shallow 2-quart baking dish. Spread half of rice mixture in bottom of dish. Arrange half of roasted zucchini on top. Spread remaining rice mixture over it and please don’t worry about being neat about this; dinner will be “rustic” tonight! Arrange remaining zucchini on top, then tomato slices. Sprinkle with remaining grated cheese and bake until set and golden brown, about 20 minutes. Each oven varies, but I find mine does the very best browning when the dish is on a rack near the top of the oven.

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416 comments on zucchini, tomato and rice gratin

  1. Hooray for gratins! Roasted tomatoes and zucchini, together at last. :) The egg is a great plan–I could totally see myself eating a serving of this over some arugula or other nice salad greens for quick lunch!

  2. Jen

    This sounds delicious! I do have a question, though: if I were to leave out the onions and garlic due to an allergy issue, would I just skip that entire step and those ingredients (the additional oil and salt)? Or add it in the next step, where everything is combined with the rice?

    1. deb

      Jen — I think you could then skip the 2 tablespoons oil you’d use to cook the onions. You might want extra rice, or maybe to cook the rice in broth for extra flavor.

  3. Jackie

    Glad to hear you’ve figured out the rice-cooking thing. I used to burn my rice often, and then I discovered Alton Brown’s recipe for cooking rice, which is essentially covering it with boiling water and baking it. I substitute brown rice and it works every time. I make big batches and freeze the extra, which means I have rice on-hand all the time. I highly recommend it!

  4. Angela

    This looks fabulous! My kids are allergic to eggs- I’m wondering if it would take away too much if we omit the egg…

  5. Jenn

    Timing is perfect – was trying to figure out what to make for dinner tonight. What would you think about replace rice with quinoa or bulgar? Are you looking for about 1 1/2 cups cooked grains?

    1. deb

      Jenn — Think it would be great with other grains. I thiiiink, but I could be wrong, that 1/3 cup dry rice makes 2/3 cup cooked [updated, thanks for the correction] 1 cup.

  6. Some people can’t conquer the souffle, my kitchen Mt. Everest is rice. I bought my rice cooker probably a decade ago now, for less than $20, and it is without a doubt my favorite unitasker in the kitchen. (Although my cherry/olive pitter is worth its weight in gold when put to task.) I’ve watched the demos, stood side by side and watched flames lowered, pots put in the oven. It just doesn’t work for me. Not sure if space is an issue in the smitten kitchen, but, my goodness, I cannot help but suggest a rice cooker.

  7. Rice in a gratin – why have I never thought of that? This looks and sounds wonderful.

    For what it’s worth, I picked up a rice-cooking trick from somewhere which has never ever failed me. Measure out your long-grained (preferably Basmati) rice in a container (I use a toddler’s plastic cup, I generally have about 47 floating about at any one time) tip into pan, then add two of the same containers’ worth of water. Bring to a rolling boil, then cover pan with foil and then with the lid, and reduce heat to low. Leave to simmer / steam for 12 minutes. TA-DA!
    (If you want to get fancy you can chuck a couple of cardamom pods in with the rice and water.)

  8. Mary K.

    How Provencal! I wonder if it would be possible to squeeze a tiny layer of eggplant in there, for the summer trifecta.

  9. Ryann Rugg

    Deb I so love your site….and it shows my waistline that is. :) And I love how you make your recipes clean-up friendly by eliminating as many dishes as possible!! Thank You!

  10. NicM

    I have a combo crockpot-steamer-rice cooker that’s a life saver, because I lack the attention span to cook rice on the stove without burning it. I guess everybody has something they just can’t get the hang of regardless of effort. Pretty soon I’m going to be overrun with tomatoes as well as zucchini so I’ll have to give this recipe a try.

  11. Phi

    I used to have a HUGE ordeal with rice, and being from an asian country this bothered me a great deal. Until, I cooked it the Japanese way. Here is one recipe for perfectly cooked steamed rice.
    1 3/4 c. rice + 2 1/4 c. water.

    1. Wash rice under running cold water in a colander until the water runs clear. (this removes excess starch and will help it become more consistent and less sticky – but it also removes even more vitamins and minerals). Allow to drain.
    2.Place the 2 1/4 c. water and rice in the cooking vessel and allow to soak for at least 1 hour. This will allow the grains to absorb the moisture and soften them up.
    3. Cover the pot with a lid and bring the water and rice to a rapid boil on the highest heat and reduce to a gentle simmer once it starts to boil (the lid is still on). After 15 minutes, turn the heat to its highest temperature for 10 seconds and then turn it off.
    4. Allow the rice to steam (it is still cooking) with the lid still on for an additional 10 minutes. Serve with a dampened wooden spoon to prevent stickiness.

  12. JP

    The old saying is: twice the water and thrice the rice…that is if you use 1/3 cup dry rice and 2/3 cup water you get 1 cup rice. Makes sense. This is not my method of cooking rice, however. I use Cook’s Illustrated fluffy white rice recipe and that has never failed me. 15 minutes cooking as low as possible and 15 minutes sitting off the heat and wonderful rice.

  13. peelstudio

    and to think that i was just hunting for a recipe to deal with my glut of CSA tomatoes, zucchini and eggs. thank you smitten kitchen, once again.

  14. Melissa

    This is one of my favourite recipes. I’ve also been making it for years and have adapted it to work with whatever I have on hand. I’ve added a layer of roasted peppers, sauteed mushrooms with the onions, etc. Different kinds of cheese can be good too like Gruyere.

  15. JaxRD

    I’ve been cooking rice for a long time and it only comes out perfect about 1/4 of the time, though the best was often when I rinsed the rice very well.

    …However, I recently started cooking my rice like pasta (adding to a LOT of boiling, salted water) and just tasting for doneness after 15 min or so. Once it’s tender, that’s it! I drain it in a colander and leave it there for a minute or two which sort of steams it.

    It’s been perfect every.single.time I’ve done it this way.

    1. My mother suggested this method to me with a tone of “I-thought-everyone-did-it-this-way😁” after I had several rice disasters, including an overflow across the kitchen floor. The pasta method is a keeper!

  16. I know you have little room for this, being in NYC and all, but I have a little rice maker that I LOVE. I use it on a weekly basis and it cooks the rice perfectly every. single. time. and I don’t have to watch it at all.

  17. This is like a gluten-free crust-free pizza! With rice. And eggs. Anyway, for someone like me who feels obligated to use the oven despite summer heat, this is a perfect way to use my garden’s bounty. For me, brown rice would be a great swap for the white, for the nuttiness and a little more texture.

  18. jenny

    this looks delicious! (I still have your scalloped tomatoes on the agenda for this summer, too! have been craving them since last year’s last, sad bite.) where did you get your awesome pan?

  19. Mary Beth

    Don’t forget Julia Child’s wonderful zucchini gratin (she calls it a “tian” ) in Vol. II of Mastering the Art. It incorporates rice, too. I made it for dinner tonight, and I’ve been making it for 40 years!

    1. deb

      Mary Beth — No way! I have my mother’s original Vol. II and don’t use it enough, clearly. Thanks for the tip.

      jenny — I coveted it for years before “treating” myself to it last year (you know, the way normal women would treat themselves to a pedicure or shoes). I have the 9×12 which holds 2 quarts. I use it for roasting and reheating all of the time.

      JP — Great tips, love the technique. I’m going to try it next time. Seriously, my kid loves rice.

  20. SamanthaJess

    Thank you for helping us put a dent into our zucchini mountain! We are still very close to a summer squash avalanche of epic proportions. This is a perfect and delicious dinner to clear out the fridge of last week’s veggies to make room for this week’s farm share!

  21. amy

    I will never grow/buy a zucchini because I get so much in my co-op bag and someone is always giving some away:) That being said, I love finding new ways to use it all up before it rots! It has turned into a game and I will not lose!(yeah right) but it is fun trying. (Nerd:)

  22. Nicole

    Well hello healthy dinner that can be made before we leave for the absurd football practice from 6-8 every weeknight in August!! Reheatable, easily eaten in shifts and meatless to boot. I have 3 cooking goals for the summer: new recipe a week, meatless twice a week and real meals throughout the football schedule challenge. This meets all three criteria – bingo!! Thanks!!

  23. Kristen E

    Although I don’t like zucchini OR tomatoes (though roasted might be good – I like cooked tomato sauces), I’m printing this one out. I figure I can roast whatever other veggies I have on hand – this looks like a real winner! And I’m one of those people who can eat rice at every meal. We have a rice cooker and it gets used at least twice a week. :)

  24. OK, I randomly made something almost exactly like this for dinner tonight before seeing yours. It’s the result of moving to the south. They’re all about this dish (it doesn’t often have rice in it – I was feeling very inspired when I threw that in tonight – and yellow summer squash is probably more common, too) and here in the south they just call it “squash casserole.” The egg is essential, though, I totally agree. Ricotta is also excellent tossed into the mix. And I really do love it with some cheddar cheese and a handful of bread crumbs on top, or even better, crushed pretzels with that cheddar on top? So good.

  25. Katie

    Hi Deb- First time on your blog- it’s fantastic. Quick question- you mentioned omitting the eggs- should I change any of the other ingredients proportions or adjust the cooking time/temp? Thanks in advance. Katie

    1. deb

      Hi Katie — When I’ve made it without eggs, the main thing is that it doesn’t hold together very well. It’s fine, it still tastes good, but it would also probably be awesomer with more cheese if without eggs. I don’t remember the cooking time adjustment, probably a little less.

  26. I’m not a big rice person either, guess I just got tired of it from eating so much as a kid, but this looks absolutely delicious! I’ll definitely want to try this out with brown rice!

  27. OH MY GOODNESS. I love this recipe! I started making it a few years ago from the same gourmet recipe and am so excited to try yours- I seem to remember in theirs (not made it yet this year- zucchini bugs have destroyed all of my squash plants) having 2 layers. Your adapted recipes always seem to be more helpful to me than the originals that I have tired. I’m a recipe idiot so thank you :D.

    Can I make a request (if you see this)? It’s for the fall. I like lentils but not THAT much. However I have had a pureed lentil soup that I loved and can’t seem to replicate. I know you’d like to do the work for me… Right? Unless you’re a lentil hater and in that case I understand.

  28. I am inspired. The rice cooking is impressive, I rely on (as my Japanese mother in law does) on an electric rice cooker. I am looking forward to making this gratin when my three tomato plants start pumping out the red orbs of deliciousness. Yippee!

  29. Sounds like you’re having the same overflow zucchini issue I’m having…though my zucchini’s coming from my own garden and I almost wish it would stop, lol! I am enjoying trying all sorts of new-to-me zucchini recipes (better believe I’ll be trying your zucchini rice gratin!) but I can already tell I’ll be going on a long zucchini hiatus after this summer. Thanks for an excellent recipe to change up all the zucchini recipes I’ve been cranking out!

  30. liz

    we made this tonight – so, so, SO GOOD! we also have rice-loving toddlers in the house so we will often cook up a big pot of rice to use during the week, and leftover rice worked perfectly in this. we used 1 cup and it looks like we guessed right as to how much cooked rice 1/3 c. would be. can’t wait to make it again!

  31. I need to go to remedial school for rice. I also make it for my 3 year old but rice ends up scattered all over the place and pasta seems like the easier option. This zucchini recipe has inspired me to try it again! Thanks.

  32. Lynne B

    Summer means CSA boxes chock full of zucchini and tomatoes and the zucchini always stumps me. This recipe looks delish and now I can’t wait for next week’s box so I can try it! Thank you

  33. Candice

    I saw an episode of Sara Moulton’s weeknight meals where she also said she could never cook rice. So she boiled and strained it as if it were pasta. I haven’t tried it, but of she says it works, I’m sure it does!

  34. There was a time when I could give your toddler a run for his money, I could eat rice all the time in any form. Let´s pretend my palate got more sophisticated over the years, but I still heart a good old fashioned arroz con pollo, reheated if possible. I know, I should be banned from the food world for the reheated part but it´s true. Anyway, one measure of rice with two measures of water, cook until there´s no more water. That´s how my grandmother taught me. Your rice casserole fits me perfectly, and when I make it I will double it so I can reheat it.

  35. ET

    If anyone is curious like I was, this bakes up great in a regular 8×8 square pan.

    (Yes I did run right home and make this for dinner. What?)

  36. Leslie

    This looks fantastic and not too fattening (trying to cook lowfat lately to be a bit healthier). Would this work okay if all I have as far as a baking dish is a 9X13 glass pan? I really need to get a couple more, but that’s all I have for the moment.

  37. Lori E.

    Have you ever tried BAKING rice? Thirty years ago, I found this recipe in The Mother’s Almanac, and I haven’t burned rice since! Here you go: Preheat over to 350 degrees. In a 9″x13″ glass pan, place 2 cups long grain rice (I always use Uncle Ben’s Converted) and 4 cups boiling water. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake 20 minutes. That’s it–no more burned pots! (If you want a more savory dish, you can add 2-4 T. butter, 4 bouillon cubes, 1/4 cup finely chopped onion, but you don’t have to bother with these extras at all.)

  38. Hi! This look so good, rice could be tricky for others but since i am asian, i grew up knowing how to properly cook it. I might try this dish later this week! It look so interesting and rather easy :)

  39. Looks delicious…really love your blog..but sweetie, listen to Molly and now to me…get a rice cooker if you have the space. It will change your life ! :)

  40. hennifer

    Two quick comments: While preparing food for a large group at a homeless shelter we learned from the cooks there that you can make rice in the oven! I think you use the same proportions but just bake. This would be a lot more helpful if that hadn’t been over 3 years ago. I’ve been dying to try it at home. Although not really necessary for small servings I suppose. Ok, now I’m just rambling because it is 1 am.

    Regarding the tomatoes – When I make quiche I just put my tomato slices on top about half way through. I find that that and sitting on top of the cooling dish cooks them perfectly, for my tastes. Just a thought!

  41. Yvonne

    Just thought I’d share that here in the UK we have had just a week of sun in the last 3 months ( maybe a small exaggeration) and only last night I picked my first courgettes, about 6 that were 3 inches long. Oh for a glut! Love your site and I make most of your recipes since I found you a few months ago.

  42. Audrey

    The dish looks great. To save time fry onions and garlic first, just to brown a bit, then add rice, stir till coated with oil, add water and cook as usual.

  43. As somebody who adores rice (Indian ancestry), I learned to cook it pretty early in my cooking career following Delia Smith’s directions. The full details are here:, but essentially:

    – Boil the kettle.
    – Put a pan to which you have a lid on the heat and add a tablespoon of olive oil and about a 1/4 tsp of salt.
    – Measure a scant cup of basmati/long grain rice per person and throw it into the oil.
    – stir to coat and fry a little.
    – add 1 cup of boiling water for every half cup of rice you added – take care, the pan is hot and it might spatter.
    – clap on the lid and turn down the heat to the lowest it goes.
    – time 10 minutes and check. Cook until the water has all been absorbed and the rice is beginning to look dry – the sound should be a crackly frying sound, rather than a bubbly watery noise. This never takes more than 20 minutes.
    – take off the heat and leave to dry out, uncovered, while you plate the rest of your meal, then serve.

    This works perfectly for me, every time.

  44. OMG Deb! I’m just in the process of finishing my post for a “rice pie” dish I cooked a few days back, which is gonna debut tomorrow! I know you hate comments like this, and it’s a more “carnivores-style”, but I really think you will enjoy it. Please come check it out tomorrow!

  45. I’m spending the next 10 days at the beach with my family and in-laws…this is going in the file for recipes that will happily and heartily feed a crowd and make use of the farm stand bounty out where we are going…thanks!

  46. Caterina

    Thanks Deb, now I have too many zucchini recipe options :) I have made your zucchini strand pasta, zucchini bread, quick zucchini saute recipes and now have your zucchini pancakes and this planned for the weekend!

  47. jill

    This is an awesome recipe for zucchini and tomatoes….always looking for more great recipes like this. Sounds like tonights supper!

  48. Amanda

    I know this has been stated already but I need to reiterate – rice cooker! It will change your life, seriously. I’ve completely forgotten how to cook rice on the stove, and my husband never knew (my in laws have a rice cooker a toddler could fit inside of).

    Plus you can use it for other things! Like Quinoa! And other grains! It’s really wonderful. Do it.

  49. FLT

    I just use a rice cooker, but now I use quinoa instead of rice for almost everything. I feel like there’s more nutrition.

  50. debby

    i’m glad i’m not alone. i have never made rice that didn’t burn. i began to think that that was the ‘way it was supposed to be’. hmmm, i’ll try your suggestions…thanks.

  51. maria

    Thank you Deb, maybe I’ll eat zucchini this time without a fighting with mom!
    ;), by the way, all friends and family members now adore your lil cutie! my sis was about to gobble him up when she saw his pics, :)!

  52. I am such a fan of zucchini (or courgette as they call it here in the UK). It’s such a versatile vegie that’s great in both savoury dishes and baked goods, like the chocolate zucchini loaf that I baked last week. By the way, you should invest in a rice cooker. It will change your life and your rice dramas!

  53. i’ve made ina’s vegetable tian a half dozen times, each go-round hoping that maybe *this* time the juices won’t puddle at the bottom of the dish. now i know, rice is the secret! can’t wait to try this one.

  54. Flora

    Made this last night and it was really tasty. Probably will need to triple the recipe because we had NO leftovers between me and the husband (and we had steak and salad too!). I own a rice cooker, but I usually only use it for sticky rice–mine is one of the pressure cooker ones that also claims to make porridge, bake bread, etc. But if you need to keep rice on hand all the time, it’s pretty convenient. For this recipe, I did use the pasta-cooking method for the rice…the cleanup just seems easier (no scrubbing pots).

  55. Hi, this looks fantastic, I’ll try it soon.

    By the way, I always hated to cook rice as well – same problems.

    But, since I own a decent rice cooker it is very easy and never burns, you only have to watch until its done and than switch it off, otherwise it might stick or burn as well.
    I tried both brown & white rice.

  56. AL

    I like to do something similar, but I use summer squash and dill instead of zucchini and thyme, and I add some green pepper when I saute my onions. I’m eager to try it with thyme (though I might stick with the summer squash since that’s what I have in over-abundance). Thanks!

  57. Jennifer

    While I use my rice cooker to make most of my rice, I also have a fool proof way to cook rice on the stove top. Rice can (and IMO should) be steamed. So, put the rice and water in a pot over high heat until it starts to boil. Then, cover, turn off the heat, and let the residual heat/steam make you perfect rice. In 15-20 minutes you’ll have perfect rice EVERY time.

  58. Susan Wozniak

    I have two comments to make in re: this recipe. I always cook rice in a casserole in the oven. I can tell the difference in taste between rice cooked in a closed casserole and rice cooked in a pot. Oven baked rice is tastier. Both white rice and brown cook perfectly in this way.

    I also never burn rice but the pot on the stove always bubbles over.

    The other comment in on salt. I never salt rice. I never salt eggs. I hate the taste of both with salt added.

  59. I made this recipe a few years ago, and we loved it. I actually just made it again a week or two ago and added some chicken & lemon zest to it (and used brown rice), and it was a great full meal.

  60. Jamie

    Although I am not a gadget person, I do own (and love) a cast iron “flame tamer” which is a a solid disc of metal that you put between the burner/flame and the rice pot. If you can’t get your burner low enough to cook rice (or steel cut oats) without boiling over, this does the trick. Nice slow barely bubbling simmer. They are cheap too.

  61. This is crazy! I made this same gratin this week to use up my zucchini abundance! It was in a special edition Gourmet magazine for summer and looked irresistible. And I have to admit to also having serious problems with burning rice because of a gas stove. I’ve experienced Grumpy Dishwasher syndrome firsthand…and I’m so thankful for your rice cooking advice. Thanks!

  62. Emma

    Echoing many of the previous comments, a rice cooker is an essential tool in my kitchen, especially given my aging and often distracted mommy-brain. However, pre-rice cooker, I used the finger-measure method to make perfect rice every time (as long as I remembered to turn down the flame!). Put your desired amount of rice in a pot, shake to make it level. Stick your finger into the rice, with the tip of your finger on the bottom of the pot; note how far up your finger the rice goes. Begin to add water. Place the tip of your finger on top of the rice, add water until the level comes to the same place on your finger that the rice did before. Put the lid on the pot, and place on high heat until steam begins to escape from the pot (this is the part where you have to pay attention). Turn down the heat as low as it will go, and cook for 20 minutes. Don’t take the lid off while it is cooking. After 20 minutes, remove from heat without taking the lid off, allow to continue steaming for about 5 minutes. If you have trouble getting the flame on your gas stove low enough, try a heat diffuser:

    1. deb

      Emma/Jamie — Wow! I never knew such a thing existed. I could definitely use one. What my stove calls Medium is definitely Medium-High, and it’s lowest flame is a Low-Medium. Sometimes you just need a low flame. Thanks for the suggestion.

  63. Marcee …. ILLINOIS

    Looks sooo delicious and inviting.

    Years ago my Indian pals/ladies taught me a/the precise way to steam rice. They are pros! Overall ….. verrrry easy and ALWAYS delicious.

    Have used all types (I usually start w/2 cups raw) rice. Leftover rice is great for the next day …. add to soups, etc.

    Whatever amount of raw rice is choosen …. a specific brand has never failed me.

    Firstly, put rice into a round stainless steel (no handle) pan. Rinse (grit, etc.) rice 5-6 times. I use lukewarm water. On the final rinse …. fill clean water 2-3 or so inches above rice. Doesn’t matter really. Let soak/stand. You can do this step for 1 hour …. or overnight. I do all the time. Great results!

    When ready to steam …. rinse raw rice again. Fill rice-pot w/fresh water 1/2 inch above rice. Put this pan into a larger pot filled with 1-1/2 inches water. Cover with a tight fitting lid. Stove steam for maybe 15 minutes on medium/low flame. Watch your clock. Please …. try not to look in the pot!

    Rice should be absolutely perfect. Fluff …. then enjoy!!

  64. Susan

    I’ve never had a problem with rice that wasn’t my fault. I just follow the directions on the package and, if I’m paying attention, it never fails. If I don’t set my timer or check on it occasionally, it’ll overcook and stick to the pan. The timer is my savior!

    This gratin looks like dinner to me! Can’t wait to try this.

  65. Sequoia N.

    I have been trying to think of something awesome for a welcome home dinner for my boyfriend this Friday and you have just hit the nail on the head with this one! Every night after dinner the question arises from him ‘ok, which recipes came from her?’ and her is of course you because you have yet to disappoint on anything!

  66. Suzanne

    I’d totally make this, but I’d have to turn on the oven. And to 450 no less! I just can’t fathom the thought right now.

  67. Shannon

    I know it’s tough in a small kitchen to have a unitasker like a rice cooker, but I promise it is worth it. I even got one at a resale shop for less than $20 (maybe $10?) and I have never looked back. I even convinced my mom to get one who was even more skeptical about the idea than I was. You will thank me and the others who have suggested a rice cooker later. :)

  68. Helen

    Regarding rice: I would be negligent, even selfish, if I didn’t tell you about stove-top rice steamers (you can use them for veggies, too). No reputable southern cook would be caught dead without 2 of them! See the picture on this Ebay page My brother just drove to Denmark, SC (they have 3 stoplights!) to get 4 steamers–that’s how much we love ’em and can’t live without them. Buy one, try it and you’ll never go back to boiled rice again. I promise. You can call that Ebay source directly–they seem to be nice, nice country folks who are eager to help! I’m sure they’d ship to you.

  69. My main problem with rice is that my husband cooks it, eats half of it, and leaves the remainder on the stove to dry out and get crusty. This dish looks like such a wonderful way to use the copious amounts of zucchini we have around here! I love it!

  70. Stephanie

    Hi – I was intrigued to see your recipe, as it is very similar to an old Zucchini Tian recipe I found last week that turned out so delicious it will enter the permanent rotation, especially since we are ‘blessed’ with an abundance of zucchini. The tomatoes and cheese in yours are different, and the technique varies a little too so I look forward to comparing the two. The one I used (although it is slightly different than the one i found last week – all gruyere, some bread crumbs and olive oil drizzle on top before going in oven):

  71. Christina

    Deb, do you think this could be made in advance – everything but the final baking – kept in the fridge and then baked right before serving. Or would everything get too soggy and gross? I’m excited to try this recipe, and sometimes I like to prep in advance saving just the final touches before dinner. Thank you!

  72. Georgina

    Do you think you could do this with just broiling the the veggies instead of roasting them and then cooking it for a shorter time and then broiling at the end to get brown? I am loath to turn on the oven in the summer…

  73. Katie

    This looks awesome! My only issue is that I’m allergic to tomatoes. Is there anything else I could substitute that would have the right liquid consistency?

  74. This dish looks so summery – I love it! I made a summer squash pizza last year using most of the same ingredients. I find that with rice the packaging always tell you to cook it MUCH longer than necessary. If it says let rice simmer for 30 minutes, and stand for 10, I usually stop after 15 and let stand for 5. It depends on the type of rice of course but I swear the rice manufacturers want us to over cook!

  75. This recipe looks scrumptious! I do have to say – it puzzles me to read about problems with cooking rice. Growing up in a Chinese household, we always had an abundance of rice… which we made using a rice cooker. Now, my mom has a fancy rice cooker that makes up to five cups of rice, plays a tune when it’s done cooking, and has special settings for brown rice (which uses significantly more water)… but I have a simple $40 rice cooker (capacity: 3 cups) that I purchased at Uwajimaya, a large Asian grocery chain here on the west coast. It works perfectly, never burns, is easy to clean, and takes the hassle out of dealing with cooking rice. All you do is put in the rice (measured using the cups that come in the rice bags – they are smaller cups as I believe they are Japanese), fill it up with water to the appropriate line based on # of cups used, close the lid, and press a button. I usually use Jasmine rice from the same grocery store, but have also used it to successfully cook wild rice. It dings when finished. Perhaps it’s something to consider for anyone with problems cooking rice.

  76. Julie

    Can you saute the onions and garlic, then add the rice and boil, like a pilaf method? That would save half a step. Have you ever tried brown rice?

    Loving the zucchini this summer!

  77. Lara

    Hi deb!
    just wondering, how long in advance can you prepare this so that (in effect) it is a ready meal that needs to be bunged in the oven for 20 minutes – or more if it is from fridge.

  78. Camille in PLG

    Two zucchini posts in a row? You are a goddess among food bloggers!

    I am drowning in CSA zukes. Ahh, sweet relief!

  79. Lynn

    Enjoyed this excellent dish last night. I made it using some leftover brown rice, and before serving, I garnished the gratin with some olive oil toasted bread crumbs that I sauteed and crisped (in the pan which the onion/garlic sauteed in…a nod to your cutting down on extra pan usage). It added a nice crunch/texture to the wonderful flavors of summer which this dish certainly is! Cheers.

  80. Julie

    Should you let the rice/onions cool before you add the eggs and cheese? I’m afraid that they might cook when I put them together. But perhaps you haven’t had a problem with it.

  81. Nicole

    If you aren’t huge fans of cooked tomatoe, what other veggie would compliment this? I’m thinky any veggie, right? I have broccolli at home needing to be used…

  82. Liz

    This looks amazing. Maybe you could reduce one more pot by using a large cast iron skillet for the onions and for the baking. Do you think it would work to bake it in a skillet?

    1. deb

      Liz — I was thinking that, too. Be sure to use a well-seasoned one and oil it well (maybe even better than suggested her). That egg-rice mixture really likes sticking to pans.

  83. Lucy

    Thank you, again, Deb for this marvellous newsletter – always enjoyed by us! I have the oven heating up for your gratin and can hardly wait to try it – smells heavenly. with a glass of white!! Thanks again.

  84. Joanne

    I know you keep such an efficient kitchen, but – turns out a RICE COOKER is amazing. I never used to cook rice, but with a rice cooker it is the fallback starch when i am busy after wprl, i can start the rice and walk away. I live in a city wtih a huge asian population, and my kids were convinced we were the only family in town that did not have a rice cooker before i finally acquiesced and bought one. Completely worth the counter space.
    Also have to tell you your recipe for zucchini and almonds has been the defining recipe of my summer – i must have made it 3 times a week all summer. Thanks,

  85. Naomi

    Rice is my thing but I never cook it on stove because the better ways to preserve vitamins in rice are using the rice cooker or another way I find very convenient is, cooking rice in a microwave! Trick is, you need a glass or ceramic bowl with a lid (lid is a must). Then press the button on high heat for 20 minutes and you can work on other preps in the mean time.

    Adding water is tricky and you’re right, most packages give you the wrong measurement. My mom secret and it always works is that, once you done adding rice and water, make sure the rice surface is even, dip your index finger in until touch the rice surface only and the right amount of water is exactly between the tip of your index and the first knuckle. Old rice may need a little more water (..and it’s better to buy new crops, as says on some packages). If you want a little bit firm rice (ex: for later cooking like fried rice) then add a little less water.
    This works fabulously for both rice cooker and microwave!

  86. Amy P

    Perfect timing! I have a zucchini but no savory recipes to use them in. And I’m considering buying a rice cooker – not because we eat tons of rice, but because they can cook so many other grains perfectly too.

  87. Mindy

    I’m going to try this in a cast-iron skillet to reduce the amount of dishes I need to use. Would you get the same result cooking the tomatoes and zucchini on the stove?

  88. Judy Wigginton

    I’m sorry but it’s too hot to turn the oven on especially to 450…maybe something to adapt to the bbq…I will try it.

    1. deb

      cck — I don’t see why not. It reheats very well.

      Mindy — It’s worth trying but I’ve never really roasted something well on the stove.

  89. Melissa S

    My husband isn’t terribly fond of either zucchini or tomatoes, but if I dress them up enough he’ll eat them. This is a big hit, and made a nice dent in our CSA zucchini and garden tomatoes.

    For easier cleanup on the veggie roasting, I use silicone baking mats. They’re amazing, non-reactive, don’t take up much space, and are easy to clean. I have a couple that are just sheets of silicone. I also have a Silpat (woven fiber with silicone coating), but that’s not as good for things other than bread/cookies.

  90. LHigs

    Made it tonight – with turkey tenderloins on the grill. Delicious! Thanks Deb for another wonderful creation! All the flavors come through!

  91. SBlanco

    In response to those who want to try it without eggs, you might want to sub 1/4 cup blended silken tofu for each egg instead of omiting them entirely. You’ll get both the protein and some of the binding properties of the eggs without the eggs, though the resulting color might be different than with eggs. Disclaimer: I have not tried this yet, but plan to and will comment on the results once I do.

  92. Betsy

    Made this tonight and it was delicious–a huge hit! I will definitely make it again. The best part? My husband is washing the huge pile of dishes even as I type!

  93. shari

    Oh Holy Yum! I adore squash and tomatoes together, and the addition of rice is genius! We eat a lot of rice in our house, and I invested in a good rice cooker many years ago. I know you’re limited on space, however I really think you would be a happy rice eater if you had one. You can even make a good Spanish rice in it. Just sayin. I am going to make this ‘omelety’ goodness as soon as my zucchini starts producing, which shant be long. Have you ever made the squash tomato gratin from ATK? One of my all time faves, -the flavor is intoxicating.

  94. Mary

    I’ve been making this dish for a couple of years now, and my kids have always loved it. A few things I’ve learned: it also works great with halved cherry or grape tomatoes. If you use these, you can throw the onions and garlic in with them and let it cook a little longer. I don’t end up using the onions and garlic in the rice, but the flavor is still there. I also think it works just fine if you up the rice to a cup and then the extra bulk can make it a main course for 5 (3 little ones, 2 big). I also have grown to really like throwing a1/4 of bread crumbs on top for some extra crunch. So good. Thanks for reminding me. I Love this dish especially when I have leftover rice to use bc it’s one less step.

  95. Deborah

    Thanks for this tasty last-minute dinner. Read it at the office and was delighting over it a couple hours later. I’m already looking forward to the lunch leftovers tomorrow!

  96. cs

    Sounds delish. I can’t wait to try it. I agree with the washing and soaking of rice (either brown or white). I could never understand why I would either burn rice or have hard rice or turn it to mush. Left over brown rice with a little almond milk and maybe some dried fruit makes a nice breakfast if you need another left over rice idea.

  97. Kathy

    This may become a summer staple for us, I combat the zucchini bounty with a zucchini pie- willing to share if you are interested. Love your recipes and your writing style. Thanks for all your work!

  98. Caroline

    Ok, this was seriously good. I changed things up a little: used brown rice instead of white, mozzarella instead of parmesean, and basil instead of thyme. I was all out of fresh tomatoes (!) so I made a quick sauce with canned and spread it between the rice and zucchini layers. It looked a little like lasagna with pretty circles of golden zucchini on top. I think this is a great little recipe that is open to endless modifications.

  99. Shikha

    I made this tonight and it was DIVINE! Zucchini & tomatoes were about all I had in the fridge, so this recipe was the perfect gift today. Much thanks for the words of wisdom, as always.

  100. Guy

    If you cook rice reasonably often, do it in a rice cooker. Inexpensive, full-proof, and lasts forever. You can even use it to slow cook other foods.

  101. m o o n marked

    I dry-roasted the zucchini in a cast iron pan—just heat the pan well before placing the zucchini circles, let brown well before flipping. I didn’t use any oil and they were nice and brown and tender. Then I removed the zukes and used the pan to do the onions/garlic, and then mixed it into a bowl with the rice, eggs. etc. Oiled the pan and then put the rice mixture in. I’d cut the tomatoes into wedges and tossed them with olive oil and slat while I worked on the rest of the tasks; mixed the tomato water with the rice and then put the wedges on the rice mixture before baking as directed. Tomatoes browned up and shrunk deliciously.

    Used one pan, one bowl—and kept oven time to a minimum. And the rice mix didn’t stick to the well-seasoned pan!

  102. Julie

    My husband is deeply skeptical of all things zucchini (except for bread), but I made this anyway last night for a friend’s visit, because I just got back from a long international trip and have been desperately missing summer produce. This recipe is slightly fussy, but the result is so very worth it! We had this gratin, corn on the cob, and good crusty bread, with peach-blueberry pie for dessert — the perfect summer meal. When I asked my husband if he liked it, he said in a surprised tone of voice, “Yeah, I did — sort of against my will!” It’s definitely not a quick throw-together kind of dish, and it did make my kitchen disgustingly hot with all the roasting, so it might not go into everyday summer rotation, but I’m definitely going to make it again before long.

  103. I have to say I really love my rice cooker. It has never burned my rice and I can throw the insert in my dishwasher. Even after downgrading to a studio apartment I couldn’t give it up. The only adjustment I had to make was to add a bit more water for brown rice, but otherwise great. I highly recommend the investment.
    I also remember the first time I burned rice. I was 7, and I thought I would be all proud of myself for making dinner as a surprise for my parents. The pan caught on fire.
    Rice cooker good.

  104. Erin

    Another winner from Smitten Kitchen! Deb, I’ve been reading your recipes and using them for YEARS, and I have NEVER had a disappointment. You are the absolute BEST on the web, hands down. Can’t wait for the cookbook!

    In the meantime, I’ll continue making all of your amazing recipes that have become part of our regular rotation around here. (Your easy pizza dough is used weekly, and my husband is head-over-heels obsessed with your Asian turkey meatballs…)

  105. Stephanie

    My life forever changed when I got a rice cooker. I now love making rice. I figure if most of the asian world has a rice cooker, that I am not any less of a gourmet to use one, too!

  106. Willy

    All these recipes are amazing and I can’t wait to make every one of them – maybe in October. It is about 95 degrees here in the summer, who wants to use the oven? You post recipe after recipe that must be done in an oven! What’s up with that? Have pitty on those of us who don’t live in your perfectly sir-conditioned world and post recipes that people can cook when it’s hot outside (and inside).

    1. deb

      Hi Willy — My kitchen is not air-conditioned either and vast majority of dishes I’ve shared this summer only require stovetop cooking, if that. The Bacon Corn Hash makes an excellent break, lunch or dinner on a hot day. The Zucchini Bread Pancakes make an awesome weekend breakfast (or a weekday toddler lunch, if you lived here). The cold rice noodles only requires 4 minutes of broiler time (and only 1 pot quickly on the stove) to make a full, hearty awesome dinner. There have been broccoli fritters, also cooked on the stove and easily reheated. And there’s a beloved chopped salad that requires no heat cookery at all. So, although this dish is baked, the majority of recipes I post in the summer are not.

  107. margie s

    You’re right, it’s very delicious! A bunch of dishes, even though I skipped one by dumping the rice herb egg and cheese right on top of the onions in their pan. I have a lot of zukes this summer, so keep them coming. We also tried the zucchini bread pancakes, also very good. Eating it once a day barely keeps up with the supply!

  108. Alexis

    Made this last night – amazing! And the fiance loved! Replaced the rice with roasted spaghetti squash, cut out the oil to roast the zucchini and tomatoes, and added sauteed mushrooms to the egg/onion/spaghetti squash/thyme mixture. Will totally make again for company. Thanks Deb!

  109. Julie

    Ok — I commented earlier, but right now I’m eating the one leftover piece of this gratin from last night, and I’d like to revise my earlier verdict from “fussy but worth it” up to “omg this is just ridiculously delicious and you should make it tonight, no matter how many dishes you have to do or how hot it makes your kitchen.” Thank you, Deb, for another brilliant dish! I can’t wait for the cookbook.

  110. michelle

    I made this gratin yesterday –I added a layer of eggplant along with the tomatoes and zucchini…it came out perfect!! Thank you so much for the recipe and the beautiful photos!! :)

  111. Angie

    I’m a new subscriber to your blog and I want to say thank you for your delicious recipes. I just made this and it’s delicious. My daughter loved it. I also made the broccoli fritters last week which was a big hit. It was finished within minutes. I hope to try many more of your healthy recipes. Thanks!

  112. Maria

    Hi, I was wondering if you have any zucchini salad recipes? I had an amazing one earlier this year at Morandi at NYC and have been half-able to recreate it. It contained raw zucchini, some thinly sliced red chili, toasted pine nuts and chopped mint, all marinated in an olive oil and lemon dressing. I googled potential recipes and came up with one of my own, but when I made it, after some 30 minutes of having tossed in the marinade, the zucchini had shredded so much liquid that the salad wasn’t quite right (still pretty nice though). I wonder if you’d recommend wilting the zucchini with some salt first and then drying them on paper, like you do in some of your recipes.

  113. This looks absolutely delicious! Now I wish I had planted zucchini in the garden this year. With all these great recipes I’ll never look at zucchini the same again!

  114. Willy

    Deb it’s probably a case of always wanting what you can’t have. The recipes that jump out at me most are the ones that would turn my kitchen hot as Hades (so I easily interpret that as EVERYTHING must be cooked in the oven). However I am gonna try making the peach pie on my grill. I’ll let you know how it turns out!

  115. judith scott

    this is delicious! i’m eating it right now. right this very second. if i had to change anything on my end,i’d probably use less rice and more zucchini. what would be totally miraculous would be to learn how the persians burn/brown the bottom of their rice. i’d like a little more stability/crunch at the bottom.
    i’ve had a ball this summer cooking everything you send in the email! thank you,deb.

    1. deb

      theRunt — Thank you! I totally missed that.

      Michelle — Uncooked. Will clarify in recipe.

      Maria — It’s hard to guess because I haven’t tried it. It sounds so good! I need to get back there. If it seemed wilted, yes, presalting is probably an easy way to do it. Also, you have to figure at the restaurant that it would bring the zucchinis to a point that all they’d have to do is add the toppings, which is useful for service.

  116. Layla

    I just riffed on this for dinner (most notably doing farro instead of rice and putting some crumbled feta on top), and it was absolutely awesome. Can’t wait to make more variations of this!

  117. Ana

    I made this dish last night and it was divine! It was so flavorful with the combination of the onions and grilled zucchini. Thank you so much for giving me yet another recipe to use up the dozens of zucchini I’ve gotten from the garden. So far I’ve tried 3 of your recipes and they’ve all been wonderful!

  118. Jessica

    Hi Deb and everyone else
    This looks so good I may need make it right now! It’s dinner time here.
    I want to share another method of cooking rice and I apologize I did not read every post so if some else has shared this me a culpa if they have.
    Preheat oven to 375
    Take a couple teaspoons oil and toast your rice then add your water so for 1 cup rice I used 1 1/2 cups water
    Bring it to boil
    Then cover and put in the oven for 13 minutes
    Enjoy your perfect fluffy rice
    Brown rice takes a little longer 15-17 mins
    Try it and tell me what you think

  119. barbara

    I just made this, used roast asparagus instead of zucchini, as that is what I had. And used haiga rice. And a little cheddar mixed in with the parm. It was really good!

  120. beautiful recipe! also, i appreciate you mentioning that some zucchini actually did go bad on your watch, despite your best efforts. having the freedom to let produce go bad has given me confidence to buy (and therefore eat) so much more of it. it was very freeing :)

  121. This sounds delicious, but you must have air-conditioning–I would not be able to use my oven for that long during the summer! I think I’ll wait for cooler Autumn weather and give it a try.

  122. Hannah

    I made this for my friends last night – thank you so much! They absolutely loved it. I cheated a little: I used tons of coriander and mixed that through the rice, and also added some mozzarella in the middle and on the top. I made a huge dish expecting it not to last and it was polished off! On a rooftop in Seville, Spain with a glass of wine, it was heaven. Thanks for your constant brilliant recipes.

  123. leah

    This recipe looks delicious, but the giant Mitt Romney campaign donation rollover and ads covering this recipe page are making my stomach turn.

  124. Santadad

    Well, my wife (Deb’s mother) made this dish on Wednesday, and we ate it again (leftovers) on Thursday, and it just gets better! Added some sliced chicken caprese sausage on the side, and it was phenomenal. *****

  125. Laura

    I can’t say this enough. You must get a rice cooker! They are worth their weight in gold. Trust me. No more scrubbing pots…no more boil overs…no more guessing whether the rice is cooked…they are a dream. REALLY! Space an issue? They are worth it. Put the rice and water in (no need to wait for the water to boil) close the lid and flip the switch then forget it. No matter when it stops cooking (it can tell before you can) it will keep the rice warm while you finish making your meal. You get perfect rice every time.

  126. jmarie

    Against all common sense, I fired up our oven today while it was 90+ degrees out. I have to say that this dish is worth it!! Due to sheer laziness, I used some already-made wild rice that I had on hand (a little over 1 cup), omitted the onions I didn’t have, and accidentally put in too much cheese (subbed out a different cheese–pecorino romano). That said, it still turned out GREAT and I would totally make it again!

    I loved the sweetness of the roasted tomatoes against the crunchiness of the perhaps-baked-too-long rice!

  127. This recipe sounds fantastic. I am of Armenian ancestry…Rice Pilaf is a staple…easy…melt 1 to 2 pats of butter in saucepan, add skinny egg noodles (enough to cover bottom of 2 quart pan), add 1 cup long grain rice. Add 22 oz of chicken or vegetable broth or you can use a little water as a part of that). Bring to a rolling boil, turn heat to very low, do not stir (or it will be gummy). Add lid. cook for 30 minutes…let it sit for 10 minutes before serving…you will have ni messy pan, nothingstuck to the bottom, no scrubbing and perfect Pilaf. enjoy….for you recipe, I would use at least double the rice for the base of the recipe…you could make the pilaf minus the egg noodles…

  128. JanetP

    Oh, this is sooooo my kind of recipe! I adore rice in all its forms and eat it at least 4 times a week. An overgrown zucchini is leering at me from the garden, and a vegetarian friend is coming to stay for a few days starting tomorrow. Here’s one meal down — and I can’t wait to see your winter rice gratin recipe, too. Bliss.

  129. That looks heavenly! What an awesome way to dress up regular rice, especially for the summer. :) Our tomato plant is bursting with fruit; I only wish we had a zucchini plant as well!

  130. Mariana

    Hi Deb! just made this for dinner with my husband! We couldn´t stop eating! the sweetness of the tomatoes and zucchini with the rice and cheese, were perfect. Thanks again for the best recipes ever!

  131. Lea

    Hi! Love your blog – and can’t wait for that book :). first time im posting here – but i just had to say it:
    Rice is SIMPLE! there are no set directions – but rather rules.
    1. DO NOT STIR
    2. Wash. Especially basmati or jasmine. Persian rice does not require washing.
    2.5: water ratio is 1 rice to 2 water, with basmati it can be 1 rice to 1.5 water.
    3. Flavor – before cooking rice fry up some diced onion, garlic and…. a bay leaf. If you cant be bothered – dont, but do not omit the bay leaf!
    4. Season: a but of salt and pepper are a must.
    5. DO NOT STIR.
    6. Do not open pot when done – give it 5 mins.
    basically the basic flow for rice cooking is:
    sautee flavourings (veggies, spices, etc) – add rice and sautee, stirring for 2-3 minutes – add hot water – shake pot (DO NOT STIR) and reduce heat to minimum – cover – wait (15-20 min) – turn off hear – wait 5 min
    perfect results each time. Advanced step – once rice i fully cooked, turn up heat to maximum for 2 min, and then turn off. This gives a slightly crusted brown bottom – a true delicase

  132. You know that secret joy you get when everyone at the table starts going for seconds or – be still my heart – thirds? That was last night with zucchini rice gratin on our table – we loved it! We added minced chives on top for a tiny pop of color – such yumminess!

  133. Beth

    I made this today with brown basmati. I also didn’t roast the veggies first; I pan fried the zuch and used the tomatoes raw, as it was too hot to use the oven for so long and it was still excellent. Also used jalapeno jack because that’s what i had and I liked the spice. This tasted wonderful and used ALOT of zucchini.

  134. carissa

    so you mentioned a version of this gratin briefly in another post about 4 years ago and i totally make a zucchini rice gratin with tomatoes at least twice every summer since then. i am in fact making it right now, and decided to look up your notes on it because i couldn’t remember if i usually add eggs, and here this was! the thyme is a nice touch, i’ll have to try that next time i have some.

  135. We just finished our Sunday dinner featuring pulled pork and this wonderful gratin!!

    Having found myself leaving my beauty salon with not only a trim off the ends, but a zucchini that would rival the size of a giant whiffle bat made for those who are 8 years old and under, I was in desperate need of a stellar recipe to go with the pulled pork I had planned to serve today.

    I definitely found it here!

    This Zucchini Rice Gratin recipe is immediately going into my permanent “keeper” recipe binder!


  136. I made this last week and loved it. Our neighborhood has a farmer’s market every Thursday and this was the perfect vehicle for fresh veggies. I used brown rice and cooked it with the sauteed onions and garlic and a parmesan rind. I also added goat cheese and topped with parmesan and fontina.

    I promise I don’t sell cheese.

    I recently made something similar with quinoa (yes, with lots of cheeses too). I love to find new things that I can tweak and cook on the cheap and easy! Thank you!

  137. jANE F.

    SO GOOD! So good, I will actually double it next time. Bump up the rice ratio, add a salad and you have supper. This is now a staple at our house. Thank you!

  138. Rachel S

    Hi! I love all your recipes that I’ve made before..except for this one. I’ve actually never had a gratin before, so I don’t know if I did something wrong, or if I just don’t like gratins. I feel like it was too ‘eggy’. Maybe 2 eggs was 1 too many. I did everything to a T, except I didn’t have thyme. I added plenty of salt and pepper, cooked my rice in a rice cooker (after burning my stovetop rice). I found this didn’t have a lot of flavor, even with using fresh zucchini and tomatoes from our garden. I think I was expecting more rice and veggie taste, and I got a lot more egg taste. It came out looking beautiful though! It brightened up the plate next to steak.

  139. Kathryn

    This was SO delicious. My only complaint is that I had to turn my oven on (and a hot oven, at that), which heats up my entire little house, but it was totally worth it! This is a great clean-out-the-fridge dish (aren’t all the best recipes?). I used up 1 cup of rice, added 3 oz of mushrooms (sliced, sauteed), and a cup of carrots (chopped, sauteed). I will make it again exactly as written, but I’ll probably double it!

    And I’m so glad you mentioned the gratin in your upcoming cookbook! Sounds fabulous and I will save a place on the Thanksgiving menu for it!

  140. Kelly

    Thanks to the CSA I’m a member of this summer I have soo many zucchini and tomatoes. I love zucchini; I was actually looking to do something with all the tomatoes…anyway, this is an excellent recipe, and I’ve been making and sharing a ton of your recipes with my CSA friends. :)

  141. Sally

    Hi Deb. Thanks for such a great looking recipe. I was wondering if I could make this ahead of time and freeze it? Do you think it would bake well later on? I have a 1 and a 1/2 year old who likes to be by my side in the kitchen, but I try to make life as stress-free as possible (especially when entertaining guests) and do as much of my cooking in advance as I can :) Thanks for your help!

  142. EmilyG

    This was very good, but 1/3 cup of uncooked rice did not seem like enough. I started with 1/2 cup uncooked and even then I had barely enough to make 2 layers in a 2 quart dish. It’s definitely not 1 1/3 cups, right? Maybe different types of rice cook up to different amounts? I used 365 brand long grain white rice.

  143. Constanza

    This was good. I’ll be making it again tonight for company, with a salad and some protein on the side. To save a dish, I used a cast iron skillet to saute the onions and garlic, then used the same skillet to assemble the gratin and bake it. I used a 10 1/2 inch skillet, but could have done it in a smaller one as well. When it came out of the oven, I put it on a hot burner for just a few minutes to give the bottom a nice toasty crunch.
    Deb, 1/3 cup of dry rice is a very small quantity, no wonder you’re having a problem! Try cooking one dry cup at a time, with 1 1/2 or 2 cups of water, depending on the rice, and 1/4 tea salt. Bring to a boil, turn heat to low, put the lid on, set the timer for 20 minutes, turn off the heat, and let rest at least 5 minutes. When dinner is ready, take off the lid, fluff with a fork.
    Figure out what pot is your rice pot, and stick with it. If you keep the dry rice quantity constant, you’ll learn to adjust water, cooking time, and flame until you can do it the same way every time. My rice pot is a small enameled Dutch oven (a 2 quart Le Creuset #18) but I used a different pot for years before I diverted my shoe budget to kitchenware :-) I do have a rice cooker, but I only pull it out for large quantities.
    For this recipe, I used around a cup and a half of cooked rice, and that quantity just barely spread to the edges of the skillet in two layers.

  144. Rachel

    This recipe was delightful! As are all your recipes, Deb! I substituted brown rice for white and simply roasted the onion in garlic with the other veggies to skip a cooking step. Yummy!

  145. Ali

    I made this the other night with the abundance of fresh veggies my friend gave me from her garden. It was scrumptious! I did add dill to my rice, I am not exactly sure why I did, but I liked it. I reheated some just a bit ago and it made my kitchen smell so good…thanks!

  146. terri


    I too would like to know if this can made ahead of time. It sounds like a wonderful dish for entertaining but would be even better if it can be made a day or two ahead … thanks!

  147. morgan

    Saw one other comment about this – I also added sausage (~one pound bulk sausage for triple the recipe) and used brown rice. Made it in my 15″ cast iron skillet, which made for a nice presentation, and it got devoured by a hungry mob of potluckers. I’ll make it again!

  148. Emmi

    I’m cooking this tonight, can’t wait!’My 2 year-old won’t eat zucchini (or chicken, he’s weird like that), so am hoping this will persuade him. I’ll try adding feta on top, that seems like a good suggestion.
    I’m wondering if you have different rice in the US than we do here in the Netherlands, since so many of you have trouble cooking it. We can get quite decenet rice here in the supermarkets (like Pandan rice) and I find it super easy to cook:
    boil generous amount of water with some salt, then add rice (there must be at elast two fingers of water above the rice), bring to boil and cook for 8-9 minutes, drain, let stand for 15 minutes, stir through: tadaaaa. But then, I’m married to an Asian guy, who would probably divorce me if I burned the rice…. :-).

  149. Mary C.

    I just prepped this for tonight’s dinner, but added ground beef with my onions. It looks great already :) Love your recipes Deb!!

  150. Karin

    what might be the baking the gratin temperature? I assume 450 is too high. Mine is in the oven at 400 or should it be lower?

  151. Nelleke

    I made this as a main dish for supper tonight. I tripled the rice and used cheddar instead of parmesan, but otherwise left it alone. It was delicious. I don’t think there’s any way a person could ruin this, since it was still good with such a wildly different amount of rice.

  152. Guest

    Made this tonight. So yummy. Felt it was not enough rice. Next time will increase to half a cup. But otherwise delightful and a total keeper.

  153. Mattie

    So, I made this tonight, and it was incredibly delicious. Admittedly, I made a minor change, however. I don’t love omelets or anything too eggy, so i used only one egg. In place of the second egg, I used some white wine, because…well, I don’t think using white wine needs any further explanation. It was delicious!

  154. RE

    I’m going to make this for dinner tonight! Lucky me, I have leftover rice in the fridge.

    Two words: RICE COOKER! :D I don’t have a food processor or even a blender right now, but I do have a rice cooker! I always messed up rice until I got one. I have a cheap, $15 one that works wonders.

  155. Ritika

    This surely looks good. But as asked by Angela, can we do away with the eggs or replace it with something else (not wine :))?

  156. AB

    A couple of suggestions for the ‘rice-challenged’ here: EVERY Chinese restaurant will happily SELL you rice, perfectly cooked and ready to use. They’ll even sell you lovely BROWN rice!

    Second, the directions on the Carolina rice box recommend too much water, rather than too little. The fault, dear Brutus, lies in our stoves (to sadly paraphrase Shakespeare) and not in ourselves. Getting one of those heat shield thingys from Bed, Bath & Beyond or wherever, will transform how you feel about cooking rice: put it under your rice pot after it comes to a simmer. Lower the flame to the lowest possible setting and you will NEVER burn rice again and it will be perfect. I use BARELY 2C water for 1 C rice. If it’s 2C of rice, then, per Alton Brown, 3 1/2 C water is used.

    Hope this helps and this gratin sounds YUMMY!

  157. This is TOTES DELISH. I am trying to decide whether I should finish it now or if I will feel too ashamed to have eaten the whole thing in only two sittings. But while I consider this, I keep eating it, so we’ll see. I used brown rice and the nuttiness is perfect in it, and mine is much deeper (this baking dish is 8″ across and 3″ deep) and I love it. Oh, and my rice was definitely not in the best shape when I used it, but you’d never know it now. I also removed one yolk from the eggs part. Another huge thank you to you, Deb! <3

  158. Jenetta

    Just made this tonight and it was excellent!! I love how roasting sweetens the zucchini and tomatoes. I used a yellow zucchini which was delish. My husband had the idea that a layer of roasted red pepper sauce would be really yummy in this too. I subbed thyme, which I didn’t have, for basil, which I did have. Very tasty with that herb too.

  159. susan

    Went out to my best friend’s NJ farm yesterday and picked way too many zucchini and japanese eggplant. Prepared this and your eggplant salad toasts for dinner tonight along with (rumor has it the best corn in NJ from Sweet Valley Farms in East Amwell NJ) Amazing. Thank you thank you thank you.

  160. Christina

    I made this with brown rice tonight and it was awesome! I also used dried thyme, so halved the amount and put it right in with the onion while it sauteed. Next time I’ll use egg whites only to cut down on some calories. This recipe is delicious!

  161. Patty

    I can’t wait to make this, but can you please tell me about how many servings it makes? I’d like to serve it as a side to some grilled salmon at a dinner party. Thanks!

  162. Naomi

    Made this last night and it was delicious, but am I the only one whose rice/onion mixture did not come close to being enough for two layers? I used brown basmati and had to just do one layer of the rice/egg/onion on the bottom of my large cast iron skillet to cover the bottom. Still was delicious though!

  163. Coming from you, I knew this recipe would be good. But man, I was surprised at how awesome this dish tastes! Such flavor from the roasted veggies and garlic! (and I’m not much of a zucchini fan) So glad I purchased a rice cooker so I can make fabulous dishes like this with less stress :P

    Keep up the fantastic work Deb! Your blog has brought so much inspiration and happiness to me this past year (ah if only I discovered the joy of food blogs earlier :P)

  164. Deb, I just found your site and absolutely love your recipes. This looks like the perfect summer dish. I tend to get tired of the usual summer cook out food. I can’t wait to try this recipe out next weekend!

  165. I have been reading your blog for a bit now but have never gotten the chance to try any recipes… until this one! We had some zucchini and cooked rice that needed using, so thanks for the rad recipe! I made it for my family for dinner yesterday night and it was perfecto. It’s a keeper! I shall try it with different rices next time, like brown. It was even delicious warmed up as leftovers for my lunch today.
    <3 Larissa

  166. michelle

    Do you think you could do the baking portion of this on the grill? We don’t have a/c and I am loathe to turn on the oven in the summer, but this sounds delish. We cook pizza on the grill, why not this? What do you think?

  167. This looks awesome! I’m not much of a rice cooker either (much to the chagrin of my sweetheart) so maybe this will help change my ways. I just posted the first of three blog posts about what to do with the (mildly irritating) bounty of zucchini this time of year. Happy to have another recipe to add to my repertoire. I hope you’ll peek at mine too!

  168. Wow. I always love seeing a recipe that has both carbs and protein in it that is vegetarian. I’ll have to try this out if I can get my hands on nicer tomatoes that the grocery store kind.

  169. Linnie

    I made this last night, even followed the recipe (which I hardly ever do) and was very disappointed. I’ve NEVER tasted a Smitten recipe that I didn’t love so I’m pretty sure I missed something in the process. It just came out bland. The zucchini fritters, though, pure genius!

  170. Heidi

    This is the first recipe I made from your site and I have to say it was fantastic-the perfect summer dish! The only change I made was to reduce the amount of onion a bit and dice them rather than slice. I just found your blog on Flipboard-I will be trying the peach blueberry cobbler tonight-can’t wait!

  171. nanci

    I made this last night, however, when I mixed the rice/onions, etc. together, it did not appear to be nearly enough for two layers of rice mixture. So I added more rice. I still only had enough for one layer. Perhaps you are not doing a full solid layer when making this?? In other words, they are scanty and spotty layers?
    So I did my own thing: layer of rice, layer of zucchini and layer of tomatoes and cheese. Mine was not quite as crispy looking but we both enjoyed it. I personally think 1/3 c. of uncooked rice (which is only 1 C. cooked) is not nearly enough to make two layers out of.

  172. Alana

    I just made this recipe this afternoon, I was looking for a way to use up bunch of zucchini and heirloom tomatoes from the farmers market last week. The only change I made was adding 1/4 c of fresh ricotta cheese I made yesterday. It was absolutely delicious! I will be it making again and again. Good for bunch, lunch and dinner! Thanks!

  173. Rebecca

    Yum scrum! I made this last night and it was truly delicious; definitely a ‘do again’. The only tweak I made was to replace white rice with brown (cooked in some veggie stock, the nuttiness of the brown rice worked well) and added some roasted mushrooms to the middle courgette layer. Thank you!

  174. JanetP

    Ah, it is a spotty layer. Because I found the same thing as nanci above and only had enough for one layer of rice. Maybe you could clarify that in the recipe? I used a 1.5 quart dish, too, so it wasn’t that my dish was too large. This tasted very nice but somehow I didn’t fall in love. I think it might be excellent with bulgar, though.

  175. I made this tonight. I can say with certainty that it is one of the best things I have ever put in my mouth. I had to do some tweaks to make this a main dish for my family of 5. I used approximately 4 cups of cooked brown rice – as measured AFTER cooking. I doubled the onion and added the garlic directly to the rice/egg/cheese mixture rather than to the onions while they were cooking. I added another egg too.

    Kids licked their plates. This is going into the regular rotation. Thank you for yet another wonderful recipe! :)

  176. Wow, this takes summer vegetables and makes them even better. I added some fresh corn to the onion mixture and I added a layer of mozzarella before I added the tomatoes. A perfect summer dinner. Thanks for a great recipe.

  177. I made this for dinner last night and it was ah-may-zing! I used quinoa instead of rice though, and added fresh chopped parsley to the quinoa instead of thyme. Also, to use even fewer dishes I sauteed the onions in a deep dish pan and then cooked the quinoa in it after the onions were done and then used it to cook the whole dish. So, basically I made this into a three-dish meal (bowl, dish, cookie sheet) which made clean up quick and easy! Thanks for this fabulous recipe — I can’t wait to make it again and again!

  178. Kieran

    Made this last night with some unspecific proportion modifications (e.g. twice the rice, because I love rice) and loved it! I used my rice cooker (because I, too, am incompetent at cooking rice on the stove) and just mixed the eggs and cheese in the same pot.

  179. I made this last night. It was late, my husband and I were both tired and grumpy – three things that would normally doom any dish. The pans piled up, plus my husband is a trained chef and likes to interfere (we let the tomatoes roast for way too long). Let me state unequivocally – this was EXCELLENT. We agreed this is going into our heavy rotation file. We’re thinking of adding eggplant and prosciutto. The possibilities for this dish are endless. Thanks!

  180. Christina

    This is another winner! I’ve made it twice in the last three weeks, and am planning a third time this weekend when we have friends over. The first time, I followed the recipe exactly (except with yellow squash rather than zucchini… I’ve always preferred yellow!), and of course it was delicious. The second time, I substituted an eggplant for the bottom later of zucchini, and it was quite tasty as well. I also made a double recipe that time, and it fit in a 13×9. If I could just offer one suggestion, it would be to cut the zucchini (/squash/eggplant/whatever) lengthwise into planks, rather than in rounds. You don’t really specify in the recipe, though the pictures show rounds. Tastes the same to me, but way easier to flip over while baking the first time, and to layer into your casserole dish later on. Anyway – yum!

  181. I made this tonight with brown rice and also added a roasted red pepper because we have several peppers from a friend’s garden. It was delicious!
    I used the iron skillet where I cooked the onions for the tart in order to cut down on one extra dish.

  182. WhiskeyDaisy

    We’ve made this at least four times now. It’s a great way to use “imperfect” tomatoes and all of that zucchini. We’ve used half rice and half quinoa each time and it’s been fantastic. Once we forgot the eggs and it was still wonderful, but as you said, doesn’t quite hold together. I think we could use just about any vegetables and it would be fantastic. Planning to try with cauliflower next!

  183. Grace

    I just made this and, halfway through, was convinced it was going to be a complete disaster. The pan I used was way too big, and I didn’t roast enough squash, so I ended up having to do only one layer of squash and the top layer was only tomatoes-no squash. When I made the rice mixture, I had more eggs than rice – maybe because I used brown rice and it doesn’t expand as much with cooking? I completely forgot to salt the roasted vegetables, forgot the thyme, forgot the olive oil in the rice mixture, and tried to salvage my efforts by sprinkling salt and thyme on top. What I put in the oven was, well, a bit flat. Despite my fears, the results were delicious! Turns out the combination of roasted veggies with rice, eggs, and cheese is very forgiving. YUM!

  184. Grace

    Also, thought it might be worth mentioning that I used the rice pot to mix my rice/egg/onion mixture instead of dirtying up a mixing bowl. And I roasted my tomatoes in the same pan I cooked the gratin in.

  185. emily

    Do you think it would work to cook the elements and assemble it earlier in the day and then bake it just before dinner? Or would you keep the elements separate until ready to bake? I have a new baby and I’ve been trying to figure out ways to make progress on dinner while she sleeps during the day.
    And thank you for the effort you make to respond to comments (even if you don’t have time to get to mine). I always look down through the comments to see what you’ve responded to when I’m interested in a recipe.

    1. deb

      emily — I think you could roast the zucchinis and tomato in advance and make the rice-egg mixture and put them together right before you bake it. That would give it a texture closes to the original. Or, really, if you don’t want to be too fussy, you could assemble the whole thing, cover it in the fridge and bake it when you need it. Finally (can you tell I really understand how hard it is to cook with constant interruptions and pauses?!) I find that this whole gratin reheats fantastically, so you could just bake it when you can and reheat it when needed. I did that with this batch.

  186. Amanda

    I made this tonight and it tastes great! Wasn’t paying attention and accidentally used 1 cup rice instead of 1/3 (we do one cup in our steamer very often, I was on auto-pilot apparently) but I don’t think it hurt the recipe at all. I think next time I’ll chop the veggies, though, because the slices were awkward for my kids to negotiate.

    For those that asked about pre-assembly, I did all the work in the afternoon then just popped it in the oven when we needed it. Came out fine.

  187. I’ve got it! (And i hope this comment isn’t redundant..)
    I don’t own a rice cooker. Not since the $10/Walgreens went defunct. Why? Another appliance in the kitchen that I don’t have anywhere to store. Boo.
    But I too suffered from insufferable rice cooking issues. Mostly because I’m a terrible busybody and impatient. Well, there’s a bit of Zen required to succeed.
    My favorite pot in the kitchen happens to be a nice, tall, metal sauce pot. Not the best for things that have a tendency to burn if neglected. BUT! As it happens, I took some advice. If I may ~

    I rince the rice first (never used to do that..) in cold water, in a strainer so it drains best. Into the pot that goes, add recommended water, salt, and when i feel indulgent a little bit of butter. (Matter of preference) :)
    Bring that to a boil. Stir to your heart’s content for this duration, but once it’s boiling, this is where you put on your patience hat. One last stir, bring the heat down as far as you can, and put a nice fitting lid on the pot. THEN? Do. Not. Lift. Lid. at any point while it’s cooking (the time for which I reference the packaging.) No lifting lid. No peaking. Just set timer and let it sit in peace.

    So… I guess, the trick would be, that when you hear the timer beep and you turn the burner off – then then – tilt the lid to let some of the steam start escaping and YES, set the timer for another 7-10min of the rice just sitting. It doesn’t cool down very much, but there’s something about this last step that ends up encouraging the rice to become ridiculously fluffy and NOT stuck to the bottom of the pot. Wahlaah!

    Phew…… I simply wanted to share this, because… well, I suffered through so many rice cooking mishaps, I seriously thought something was wrong with me that I couldn’t cook something SO simple! Bah… yes, without an electronic device of some sort. ;)


  188. This was dinner yesterday, and what a memorable meal it was. Thank you so much for this recipe, it’s the perfect, gentle transision into autumn. I made it with Dutch gouda instead of parmesan, and can heartily recommend that twist.

  189. SusieMT

    After much wailing and knashing of teeth “He who dislikes rice and zucchini” had 2 helpings and said he would eat it again ! Thanks !! I loved it and was hoping for leftovers.

  190. Eric

    I simplified it a little by making the tomatoes and zucchini on the same pan (10 mins just zucchini, then flip ’em and toss on the toms for another 10), and added a basa filet chopped into finger-sized chunks (baked it for ~8 minutes to the point of being almost done, then cut it up and added it to the rice mixture) because who doesn’t like fish?

    It came out wonderfully, and was enough for at least 3 big servings.

  191. This meal was delicious – even all the meat obsessed in my household ate up every last bit! Like others before, I added a roasted layer of aubergines (eggplants) and it was perfect! I was even thinking of trying to un-vegetarian-ise it and add cook some minced meat with the onions and stir it in the rice mixture.

  192. I like how simple this is and I like the high quality pictures. I will try this next weekend when one of my son come over to stay with his dad and I will make this as a surprise for him. I will add my own onion & garlic recipe mix to make it more my style. Thank you!

  193. Made this Monday night and it was excellent. I went with 1/2 c. rice because my normal cooking is 1c and it was easier to halve the proportions than 1/3 them (math not my strong suit…). Mr Psmith doesn’t do cow’s milk cheese so we went with Manchego (a really good sharp goat cheese), and instead of oiling the casserole I buttered it and then swished some Progresso crumbs around to coat. At the last moment discovered I didn’t have thyme so we used summer savory. All in all, this knocked it out of the park. Definitely going into the “Keeper” file for sure!

  194. Monica

    Hi Deb, I’ve just discovered your site and have been looking for some inspiration for weeknight dinners. This is one of the recipes that I want to try. I’m not a very experimented cook, but cooking a mixture of onion and garlic for 20 minutes is way too long – even if it’s on low…

  195. Ohmygoodness… I baked this tonight, and it was just lovely! My husband and I scarfed down over half of it in one sitting. (We usually eat more daintily, but this was that GOOD.) :) I think every part of the process was worth it, as the end result had so much flavor, was warm and inviting and perfect for a late autumn dinner. Also, this is one of those ‘keeper’ recipes that you can mix up and have fun with: next time I’ll be roasting some eggplant for it too! All the best to you. Keep up the amazing work.

  196. Kyla

    A bit late to the party, I know, but I’ve only just discovered your blog, and I have to say I love it! You’ve become my go-to when I have a glut of a particular veg in my farmers box. I also have a rice loving toddler who can sniff out “ricey” at a great distance, and if you have the room in your kitchen a rice cooker will change your life. Anyway, loved this dish, amazing how such simple ingredients combined to such deliciousness. Will definitely be making it again.

  197. Rebecca

    Hi Deb ~ I love everything Smitten Kitchen! I especially love this recipe and would love to make it this week as a main dish for 4 people (with a tossed salad and good bread). I know it really only feeds 2 adults, but do you think I could double the rice mixture (double the eggs and cheese too) and have it turn out equally as fantastic? Here is a silly question….would I increase the baking time if I doubled the rice layer? (Can you tell that I’m a novice?!?) Thank you so much for your help! Rebecca

  198. Grace Bender

    I am using your new terrific cookbook and want to make the wild rice/kale gratin. I noticed in your picture that the wild rice being poured into a pan is not just wild rice but a wild rice blend (with brown and other types of rice) It looks like this in the photo of the finished product.. so…. do I use real and plain wild rice or a blend??? Please advise! Thank you.

    1. deb

      Grace — Actually, I used a blend (although both work). This was a typo, sorry for the trouble — the word “blend” is missing from the ingredients and will be fixed in future editions. Thank you for reminding me that it needs to be added to this section. I hope you enjoy it. It’s one of my favorite recipes in the book.

      Rebecca — You can double it. You’ll probably want to increase the cooking time, just a little.

  199. Grace Bender

    Deb, thank you! When reheating the short ribs since I made yesterday for tonite…. Shall I add more liquid (beef broth) and can I still crisp up in hot oven and reduce sauce for an elegant presentation or is that too much handling when reheating.

  200. mm

    Yum! our golden zucchini plant is (still) in overdrive here in Australia and I was running out of ideas; I had tomatoes, parmesan and leftover cooked rice in the fridge so this took less than an hour to put on the table. Simple idea with a delicious result and i am going to use it regularly. Thanks again smitten kitchen.

  201. I had a couple cups of cooked rice drying out in the fridge, so I’m using it up with this gratin (in the oven). I love recipes that use mainly kitchen staples — I had to pick up just zucchini and tomatoes at the store. Can’t wait to eat it! Thanks, Deb!

  202. Jenna

    You’re right about this being a lot of dishes and a decent amount of work! It’s not that it wasn’t worth it; it was pretty tasty and the toddler and I finished the whole thing in one sitting. But for a dish that requires so much time, so much work, and reheats so well, it’s kind of silly to make so little. I’ll definitely double this the next time I make it so that there’s more than two (admittedly generous) servings.

    I should be better about cooking extra rice when I do make some, because this would be a perfect vehicle for extras. I also saw frozen, precooked rice from Trader Joe’s – that would definitely save a step, even if it feels like cheating! I’m not sure that double-roasting the tomatoes did it for me – they were a little too crispy at the end, and I might try a version without pre-roasting them. I noticed some comments about this being too eggy, and I agreed, but then found I had used jumbo eggs (accidentally purchased by a sweet & helpful guy, I’m not complaining!) instead of large. So when doubling the recipe, I may decide to use 3 large or 2 jumbo eggs instead.

  203. Rose

    I’m going to try to make this in a muffin tin. Do you think that would work? I’m going to have to freeze it right after baking it and I’m thinking that would be the best way. Let me know if my thinking is flawed.

  204. Autumn

    Absolutely delicious!! Wouldn”t change a thing, unless I were to double the recipe!! Great meatless meal with hard bread and crisp white wine!!!

  205. Sue R

    Fantastic recipe -thank you.I made this with 3 different colours of courgette and I also added some torn up mozzarella into the mix.Absolutely gorgeous and looked fantastic with the cheese and tomato topping.
    Any ideas for a runner bean glut?!!

  206. Jenny

    I have a great tip for this recipe to reduce the dishes used – make your rice like my grandmother, and cook it with the onions: saute the onion in the skillet with the thyme, garlic, s&p. When onions are translucent, add rice and toss to coat well. Saute dry rice with onions 2-3 minutes til it begins to look opaque. Add cooking water, return to a simmer and cover to cook. This also reduces the cooking time of the rice. Can’t wait to make this with the tomatoes I got out of the garden this morning!

  207. Pauline

    This dish reminds me both of a tian, thinly sliced ratatouille components baked slowly and a stuffed vegetable baked on rice dish. Both dishes cooked by my dad on long summer evenings…He would put rice at the bottom of the dish and sit the stuffed veg (any combination of tomatoes, courgettes, aubergines, mushrooms stuffed with sausage meat, herbs etc). The rice would cook by absorbing the juices running from the veg with a little added water. Take the tian element of your original dish, add the rice trick and tadam, one dish! Maybe?

  208. Jen

    Hi! I am new to Smitten Kitchen and love it! Was wondering if this rice gratin could be assembled earlier in the day and then baked for dinner? I would love it if you had a “prepare in advance” section for those of us who love to cook but get home from soccer/gymnastics/chorus at 7:30! Thanks.

  209. Hi!

    I love your site and recipes, but find that you often leave key information to us non-cooks out — such as how many people dishes will serve. Again, love your stuff, so not a critique as much as a plea for more details :)


  210. Lena

    So I saw that a bunch of people asked if they could make this overnight, and then bake it. No one seemed to post a response that they had tried it. Well, I did indeed prepare everything on Tuesday night and baked in on Wednesday. Don’t know if it’s because it had been sitting in my fridge for a day but I thought it was kind of dry. I did let it come back to room temperature. It could very well be the rice that I used wasn’t great for this kind of dish. It may also be that I only used 2 zucchinis, instead of 3 (perhaps the extra one would have given off more moisture while baking). I think the rice absorbed a lot of the egg mixure while it was sitting. Instead of fresh tomatoes, I used some canned ones (I didn’t pre-roast them). I would give this a try again, but will try to cook it that day.

    Also: I don’t think anyone mentioned this, but I have a feeling that orzo would make a really great substitue for the rice.

  211. Lena

    So I wanted to follow up on my initial post from January. I’ve made this dish several more times. Let me tell you: it tastes good the first day but incredible on the second day! It’s as though all of the flavors blend together to create a richer dish after you’ve baked it.

    I’ve also realized that I’ve made this dish with just 1 egg, which might be why I have thought that, while very good, it was on the dry side. I’m going to have to remember to try it with 2 and see if it makes a noticeable difference.

  212. Katelinlee

    Finally, finally made this. Turned out great! It’s quite similar to the filling I make if I were going to stuff a zucchini, but the egg is an inspired touch.

  213. gigi

    Just made this, excellent and completely worth firing up the oven, even on one of the hottest days of our summer. Will double the quantities next time as I’m seeing that it’s delicious the day after and we barely have any left.

  214. marie

    Just made this for dinner and it was an absolute delight! A bit too much eggs for my taste. I’m thinking next time I’ll only add one and see what it does. Otherwise i really loved it and so did the whole household. Thank you for the recipe!

  215. Pam Hare

    Yum… It almost is like a pilaf recipe…we added other herbs from our garden…for those who need meat…we grilled a couple of thin ham slices with homemade applesauce!

  216. BHT

    I made this last night, and it was very good. It did seem a bit counterproductive, though, to be precooking my rice (hydrating it!) at the same time as I had the veggies in the oven to dehydrate. Have you tried dumping the raw zucchini and tomato and raw rice in the pan and letting the rice cook in the juices from the veggies? I would guess it would take a bit more water, but not sure quite how much.

  217. Beth

    Just made this.
    We are blessed with a large veggie garden. I added tarragon to the tyme and used freshly dug leeks instead of onions.
    Roosting the home grown zukes and tomatoes really added a nice deep flavor to the dish.
    Will make this part of the summer rotation .

  218. stephanie

    another “rabbit hole” post but this recipe just speaks to me.

    for one, one thing i remember my mom making growing up (my mom can cook, but this task almost always fell to my dad) were zucchini boats stuffed with rice, cheese, and tomatoes. and i haven’t had them in so long and now i’m craving that combo like nothing else.

    and for another, i have the same rice woes – the package directions always seem so simple and yet they are always full of lies for exactly the reasons you mention. and the only time i ever cook rice and have it turn out is in a casserole. so i admit i was kinda hoping you didn’t have to cook the rice first here, either, but i’m still gonna try :)

  219. Delicious! I made this tonight, and the two of us almost ate the whole thing. . I had to sub quinoa for the rice (didn’t have any), but it was still amazing! I highly recommend fresh, home-grown or farmers-market tomatoes; they really bring the dish together!

  220. Rebecca

    Experimenting to see if I don’t use the e-mail that WordPress has logged, I can avoid being forced to log in.

    I made this over the weekend and it turned out pretty well, but flavor was not awesome – think part of the issue may have been the overripe/left too long to sit on the counter zucchini I was using (kind of bitter). I also subbed the parmesan for a blend of parm, asiago, etc. cheese from the store and I’m not sure if that was a good call – did not love the cheese flavor. I’m going to try the Julia Child one next, with fresh zukes!!

  221. elaine

    i threw in the corn niblets sauted off 2 fresh ears of corn, really boosted the flavor and added another level of yumminess

  222. Trushna

    What I love about your recipes is that they are perfect for the beginner cook who needs *very specific* instructions, but also ideal for those who like to tweak things a bit and just looking for inspiration and new ideas in the kitchen.

    [Fir example, see comments above: No rice? Ok, use quinoa! No eggs – no problem! No cheese – leave it out! Hate zucchini? Use eggplant! Throw in a bit of corn too!]

    I started out as the first, and thanks to your steady hand guiding me in the kitchen, have managed to transition to the second. Tonight, I made this recipe, doubling all the quantities, adding grilled eggplant as well as a layer of fresh sliced tomatoes as I (inadvertently) over-roasted the first batch. Turned out absolutely delicious – even my toddler who usually refuses rice asked for thirds! This one’s a keeper – but then, I’ve said that about literally every single recipe of yours that I’ve tried.

    Thank you, Deb, through many years and many recipes… and here’s to lots more to come.

  223. Margaret

    I made this last night! My husband raved over it immediately. I can’t say I used exactly the proportion of ingredients, because I never strictly follow a recipe, but it was fantastic. I used wild rice, I roasted 3 zucchini and 3 tomato, I added 1/2 cup tomato sauce to the rice/egg mixture, and it was tad dry, I could’ve used some broth, more tomato sauce, or some milk of some sort to keep it moist, but we still loved it and gobbled it up. We ate it with tortilla chips for a crunch (so it wasn’t a side, it was our main dish).

  224. Erika

    This is a summertime staple for us and tonight I reduced the dishes lower than I ever have! Zucchini on one half sheet, tomatoes on another. Rice in 3 sq saucier, onions in 11″ stainless skillet (going at the same time, while veggies roast). Dump cooked onions into rice in saucier, cool a bit, add eggs and cheese to rice, stir. Assemble and bake gratin in the cooled onion skillet. Two pots, two sheet pans, plus the cheese grater and a wooden spoon.

    I also used twice the rice (brown), twice the eggs, and twice the Parmesan because I’m 27 weeks pregnant and otherwise I’d either eat the entire dish or be hungry an hour later! We love this dinner. Thanks so much for an awesome, easy, adaptable recipe.

  225. (Another) Deb

    My only quibble with this recipe is that it was quite a bit of work/pots/pans for what turned out to be a fairly small dish. I would think you could double this easily in the same space, and that is what I plan to do because it was really delicious.

  226. jan

    I’ll definitely try this- It contains all my favourite things; it should be a treat. I have a question, though. What is wrong with roasting the tomatoes on aluminum foil? REactive??? I do it all the time…is it dangerous?
    For rice- I never touch the white stuff and brown rice is definitely harder to cook. I use the pressure cooker nowadays and get it right every time. Short or medium grain brown rice is nutty and satisfying unlike white rice which tastes like the paste we used in kindergarten. Don’t try long-grain brown rice, though- it’s so bad it should be illegal. Or maybe there is a unique place for it in some exotic cuisine, but I don’t know about it.

  227. Gina

    Made this over the weekend, and it was amazing. Some things I changed

    – Brown rice, because it’s what I had. Really worked for me (has more bite). I cook it in a 2:5 ratio of rice to liquid.
    – Doubled the recipe and made it in a big dutch oven. Thank goodness, or I wouldn’t have had leftovers.
    – Also threw in a few eggplants (prepared exactly like the zucchini).
    – Used cherry tomatoes because they were what I had on hand

    Ate this with a little dollop of yogurt, sliced avocado, and toasted pine nuts. Highly recommend.

  228. SallyT

    I made this tonight, and LOVED it! I upped all the amounts to make it 6 dinner-sized portions. I used 1 cup of uncooked rice, sauteed the onion in a 12″ cast iron pan that I later used to bake the whole gratin (so only 2 pots plus the sheet pans), about 2.5 lbs. zucchini, enough tomatoes to cover the top, 1 cup of parmesan gouda (so good), and 3 x lg eggs. It was definitely eggy-enough. I roasted the zucchini on a tin-foil lined pan, and some zucchini and the tomatoes on one with parchment – it was was easier to get the veggies off the parchment lined one, so I’ll use that in the future. THANKS!

  229. Penny

    This is sooo good. I had some leftover cooked rice, one zeppelin of a zucchini and a big tomato on hand. I felt guilty turning on the oven in the heat (about 90) but the AC was working fine so I decided to give it a whirl. Delicious. And plenty for two. Baked the final assembly on a ceramic pan about the size of one-quarter sheet pan. My husband all but licked his plate AND the baking dish. I was going to serve it alongside some Polish sausage but in the end didn’t serve any meat. We didn’t miss it. Next time I might do the prep the night before and bring it to room temp before baking.

  230. In honor of the post in the season of tomatoes and to give further nod to the prior post of not using the oven when its too hot, I made this almost entirely on the grill. I still sauteed the onion and garlic as directed, and used wild rice (what a great layer of flavor) yet gilled the zucchini and tomatoes and even finished the final “bake” on the grill. A superb recipe, it will be in regular rotation!

  231. Julie

    Delicious! Made this last night and both little kids gave a double thumbs-up! We used wild rice, basil (instead of thyme), left out the garlic and doubled or tripled everything. It was the perfect summer veggie entree. Looking forward to trying the gratin in Deb’s cookbook this winter.

  232. Char

    This is sooooo good!! I have made this so many times, though will admit the recipe gets a bit looser each time I make it.
    Reduce the dishes by one more: Use leftover cold rice (I use around 1.5 cups of cooked medium grain). For the onion and garlic, use a pan that is big enough to accommodate the cooked rice. Let onion and garlic cool in the pan completely, then add in the rice, eggs, etc.

  233. mary

    I was looking for a gluten free recipe – having a family dinner with a family member that is gluten intolerant.
    This recipe has Parmesan cheese.


  234. Frederique

    I made this last night and really liked it! As I wanted to make it as a main dish, I doubled the rice quantity and did not regret it, as it was still quite “eggy” with the two large eggs. It made four servings but I could have easily eaten two : ) I also replaced parmesan with shredded emmental. With a side salad this dish makes a great light vegetarian meal for summer.

  235. Hello you recipe looks great. I see you recommend 1/3 cup uncooked rice. So how much water do you use to cook the rice. My recipe says 1 cup rice to 2 cups water and it is done in 15-18 minutes covered. so what is your method for 1/3 cup?

    1. deb

      I always thought rice was about 1 cup to 1 1/2 cups water, so I’d use 1/2 cup water here, maybe an extra tablespoon if needed. No harm in using too much and draining it.

  236. Wow! Fabulous! I’m not even a zucchini fan to be honest and I loved this. My 15 and 18 year old did as well. I will be making this again and again. I also think it would be very good with broccolini instead of zucchini. I used one zucchini and 1 large yellow squash. The tomato was lovely. I will make again but will double it. I cooked the rice in my rice cooker, the onion in a 9-inch cast iron and used the cast iron for the baking dish. Make sure you oil the baking dish, the “crust” that the rice forms is amazing. For my taste, I’ll be more careful with the thyme, I used dried and was a little heavy handed, it overpowered a bit. I also think basil would be nice. Great recipe, thank you Deb.

  237. Maxine Catalano

    I made the gratin yesterday, not only was it as described, the house didn’t heat up and I had a meal, which is how it was used last night. Lots left over, so for lunch or a side dish, would be perfect. I did, however, add scallions along with the onions only because I wanted a little of sharpness, otherwise, recipe was perfect, will make again. Thank you for never failing us with your recipes!!!

  238. EatFood

    I’ve made this twice and was disapponited both times at how dry the rice layer came out. The roasted veggies are delicious, but the rice might have been better if I’d added some milk to the beaten eggs.

  239. Maari

    This is an old post but I made this tonight and added potato (sliced and roasted the same as other veggies). Cooked everything in a cast iron pan and the rice got crispy and super delicious! Awesome recipe:)

  240. Lorraine Glazar

    Dear Deb,
    Would you allow me to share this recipe on my community sustainable agriculture’s website (or alternatively, just in the weekly newsletter)? We have a lot of summer squash and yes, hallelujah, tomatoes this time of year. Your recipe is IDEAL as many of our subscribers are vegetarian and IT IS A FANTASTIC RECIPE. You will, of course , be credited and there will be a link to your website. You can find the CSA at

  241. Iris

    Can this dish be pre-cooked? I have a luncheon gathering at our house and I won’t have time to cook, but only enough time to re-heat the dish. Any suggestion on pre-cook and reheating the dish?

  242. Deb, this is so perfectly delicious, fresh out of the oven or leftover! Would you allow me to put the recipe in the newsletter of my community sustainable agriculture program? I will properly credit the website and your cookbook.

  243. Cécile

    Dear Deb,
    What’s for diner? is the daily brain scratcher of many French women, there is even a facebook page “Maman, c’est quoi le dîner”. After many years cooking the same gratins, baking the same quiche and making the same deserts I have finally found a genuine source of inspiration for daily cooking and special events!
    I made this gratin yesterday and really enjoy the fact that it is different from traditional gratins in terms of both texture and flavor. I made a mistake because I dumped all the parmesan in the rice and egg mixture and it turned out making a crust type layer at the bottom, crunchy and soft at the same time.
    Very good recipe, thank you from a French fan!

  244. I followed the recipe but saved some time and a dish by cooking the onions and garlic in a large cast iron skillet first, then adding rice and extra water and cooking everything together-risotto style. I used the same cast iron skillet to assemble and bake the whole thing. So yummy and easy!

  245. This is so yummy! I saved some time and a pan by cooking the onions and garlic first in a large cast iron skillet, then adding the rice and extra water and cooking them all together risotto-style. Used the same skillet to assemble and bake the gratin. Definitely will make again.

  246. Helen K

    Thank you! We adore this entrée! It’s REALLY DELICIOUS, fairly easy and has intriguing flavours. Once you prepare the tomatoes and zuc, the rest is quite straightforward. Can serve 2-3 as an entrée with a green salad for a light vegetarian meal. The next time I may serve it with toasted crostini and basil pesto. I use organic white basmati and some cayenne pepper in the rice mixture. I like placing the zucchini on the top layer and use just one layer of each item … i.e. rice, tomatoes, zuc. I turn my oven down to 375 degrees for the cooking of the casserole.

  247. jjjeanie

    I made this last night; my changes:
    * used brown rice–we like it better and don’t keep white rice (except arborio)
    * cut zucchini in heavy bias to have fewer pieces to turn (and then didn’t bother turning!)
    * baked it in the pan I’d used to brown the onions
    * used more cheese (cuz why not?!)
    * doubled recipe
    * omitted thyme (forgot–but it’s not one my fave flavors; i bet oregano would be stellar)
    It was definitely good, but a lot of work. May or may not make again.

    1. deb

      There is a print icon that leads to a print template at the bottom of each recipe, where it says “DO MORE:” You can also click CTRL + P from any recipe post and it will take you to a streamlined print template.

  248. Shayna

    Made this tonight with some girlfriends – delicious! Easy prep and simple ingredients makes for a savory main dish or a superb side. Highly recommend this recipe!

  249. Susan

    I made this a couple of weeks ago when I had an overabundance of summer squash from the garden. I was in a hurry so took lots of time-saving liberties: started with brown rice left over from earlier in the week, and skipped roasting the squash and tomato slices (I know, I know, but I really was in a hurry). It was fantastic, although I will admit roasting the vegetables would have made it even better. Still, my husband is begging for this again!

  250. Clare

    How far ahead could this be made? Would you recommend preparing it fully and then just refrigerate till cooking and serving?? Thanks!!!

  251. Bonny

    Delicious! Only change was to add 1/2 tsp bouillon to rice when cooking. And I had two already cooked ears of corn that I added the kernels in with the rice mixture. I’ll make this one again.

  252. Dennis Johnson

    Deb, this is one of the best dishes that I’ve ever eaten! My wife and I were blown away by the aroma, flavors, and textures. Thanks for sharing this with us!