zucchini rice and cheese gratin Recipes

zucchini rice and cheese gratin

September has always been my favorite month. The grimy, relentless sauna that is New York City in August finally lifts and we can almost always count on a solid week (or more) of impossibly sunny low-humidity days that I consider my personal obligation — as happy repentance for all the above griping — to spend entirely outdoors. My best memories are from Septembers; this may sound weird, but I remember going to work on the morning that nobody knew yet would be 9/11 and thinking it was as clear-skied and gorgeous out as a day could ever be. Two years later, I met my husband on that day. Six years and a few days after that, we met our baby boy, and I distinctly remember checking into the hospital on a hot summer day and checking out three days later when it was unquestionably fall, disoriented.

zucchini nose...
... to zucchini tail

And yet, the last few Septembers have roundly kicked my ass. Since having a kid, a pattern has emerged of September being back to everything that will continue for a decade or two. This one is especially a doozy — good stuff, all (holidays and baby namings and birthdays and first days of all the things) but still lacking in a single unscheduled, unstructured day. All of this is to say: thank god for freezer meals.* I didn’t make many when I was frenetically nesting in the third trimester. Mostly, I liked the idea of them more than I had the energy to make them happen. Post-baby, my husband was off for few weeks and worked from home for a couple more, making dinner every night (yay) so freezer reserves needn’t be called in. But now, now that we are ostensibly back to “it,” Deb of June 2015, I’d like to thank you.

grating the zucchini

And you! A few years ago, I wrote about a zucchini tomato and rice gratin that we like to make in the late summer, a layered casserole of roasted tomatoes, zucchini, cheese and rice with fun stuff like garlic, sauteed onion and eggs. It’s as delicious as it sounds, but also rather full of steps. And dishes. Several people suggested in the comments that I make Julia Child’s Zucchini Rice Gratin instead, and I was all “Julia Child has a rice gratin?” It seemed so strange to me, so different from what I expected from her classic French repertoire. Even more embarrassing is that it hails from a book that has forever been on my shelf and clearly not given enough time in the spotlight, a 1970 first edition of the equally-worthy but much less gushed-over Volume II of Mastering The Art Of French Cooking that my father had given my mother at the time with an inscription complimenting how far her cooking had come. For shame, Deb.**

shreds, ready to salt
drip, drip, drip
squeezed and drained zucchini
rice into a zucchini mass

But the dish is fantastic. A giant cheerleading pyramid of zucchini (okay, 2.5 pounds) is shredded, salted and reduced to a moderate heap, mixed with a tiny amount of uncooked rice, some onion sauteed until sweet, garlic, and a just-right amount of Parmesan and baked in a dish until you wonder why you’d ever eat zucchini another way. This is not a gratin in the swimming-in-cream or in the baked-cheese-with-a-few-flecks-of-vegetables sense, but in the casserole-of-the-highest-calling ideal, largely wholesome, bronzed lid, freezing and reheating perfectly. Let’s all make a habit of it.

one for the freezer, one for now
zucchini rice gratin

* Freezer Meals: Looking for more? Check out this list for some of our favorites. Plus, a few more coming this month as I work through them. And do suggest any favorites from the archives that you like to freeze we may have missed — thank you!

** Volume II: For those of you who have cooked more than me (clearly!) from Volume II, tell me about your favorites from there. We’re about to make up for lost time, posthaste.

One year ago: Chocolate and Toasted Hazelnut Milk and Herbed Tomato and Roasted Garlic Tart
Two years ago: Baked Pasta with Broccoli Rabe and Sausage (another freezer love)
Three years ago: Fig, Olive Oil and Sea Salt Challah
Four years ago: Roasted Eggplant with Tomatoes and Mint and Red Wine Chocolate Cake
Five years ago: Grape Focaccia with Rosemary and Linguine with Tomato-Almond Pesto
Six years ago: Nectarine Galette and Corn Bread Salad
Seven years ago: Crisp Rosemary Flatbread and Marinated Eggplant with Capers and Mint
Eight years ago: Hoisin Barbecue Sauce
[New!] Nine years ago: Silky Cauliflower Soup, Key Lime Tart and Romaine Pesto and Egg-Stuffed Tomatoes

And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Red Bean and Green Grain Taco Bowl and Black Bottom Oatmeal Pie
1.5 Years Ago: Broccoli Cheddar and Wild Rice Casserole
2.5 Years Ago: Potato Knish, Two Ways
3.5 Years Ago: Coconut Bread

Zucchini, Rice and Cheese Gratin (Tian de Courgettes au Riz)

  • Servings: 6
  • Time: 60 to 90 minutes, depending on version
  • Print

From Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume II

A big update! Several people asked very logical questions after this was published such as: If you drained 2 1/2 cups liquid from the zucchini and need to add 2 1/2 cups liquid back, is that salting and draining process necessary? Related to this, it sounds like many people who did not get 2 1/2 cups liquid from their zucchini and thus added some back found the end results soupy? Also asked: Is the flour absolutely necessary? And does the rice have to be parboiled, can’t you just bake the gratin longer?

And so I retested this several ways and found that you could skip the flour, skip the salting and draining and even skip the parboiling and it all worked out! Note: It takes much longer to cook the gratin this way, even if you parboil the rice (thus I’m advising you don’t even bother because it doesn’t save enough time) mostly because it seems to take a long time for the zucchini shreds to release enough liquid to cook the rice. You’ll want to give yourself at least 90 minutes including prep time. This may or may not make it worth it, so I left the original instructions as a second set below. Finally, you’ll need to add 1/2 cup liquid to the uncooked rice to make up for what it would have absorbed in parboiling.

  • Butter for dish
  • 2 1/2 pounds (about 1 1/8 kg) zucchini
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt (I use Diamond brand, use 1 1/2 of other brands)
  • 1/2 cup (90 grams) plain, uncooked white rice
  • 1 medium onion, minced (about 1 cup)
  • 5 tablespoons (75 ml) olive oil, divided
  • 2 large cloves garlic, mashed or finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons (15 grams) all-purpose flour (optional)
  • 1/2 cup milk, as needed, although water or broth of your choice would work just fine [1/2 cup needed for streamlined directions, less for original]
  • 2/3 cup (55 grams) grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • Salt and pepper

New, simplified directions:

Heat oven to 325 degrees F. Oil or butter a 2-quart baking dish, or 2 smaller 1-quart dishes (as I did, with the intention of freezing one).

Prepare zucchini: Wash zucchini and trim ends. Halve lengthwise, and if seeds are particularly large, core them out. Coarsely grate and place in a large bowl.

Prepare remaining ingredients: In a large frying pan, cook the onions slowly in 3 tablespoons oil for 8 to 10 minutes until tender and translucent. Raise heat slightly and stir several minutes until very lightly browned. Stir in garlic and cook another minute. Add uncooked rice and sauté for another two minutes. Season generously with salt and pepper.

Assemble gratin: Transfer to bowl with zucchini and stir together with 1/2 cup liquid of your choice and all but 2 tablespoons cheese. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Transfer to prepared baking dish.

Bake gratin: Cover tightly with foil and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until rice within is cooked but not mush. Increase oven temperature to 450 degrees. Remove foil, drizzle top with remaining olive oil (or dot with butter), sprinkle on remaining cheese and bake uncovered until browned and crisp on top, about another 10 to 15 minutes. For extra color, you can run it under the broiler for one minute at the end.

Directions as originally published here:

Prepare zucchini: Wash zucchini and trim ends. Halve lengthwise, and if seeds are particularly large, core them out. Coarsely grate and place in a colander set over a bowl. Toss with kosher salt. Let drain for 5 minutes, says Julia Child, but more like 20 or, if you’ve got the time, up to 30 minutes.

Save drained liquid and squeeze a handful of the zucchini and taste. If it’s very salty, rinse and drain it again (not saving liquid this time). Squeeze all of the zucchini in handfuls, gently, collecting any juices in the bowl of drained liquid. Blot dry on paper towels.

Prepare rice: Boil for exactly 5 minutes in salted water. Drain and set aside. [In comments I’ve read about this recipe online, many people say that they skip this step and it all works out in the oven. But I didn’t this time.]

Prepare remaining ingredients: In a large frying pan, cook the onions slowly in 3 tablespoons oil for 8 to 10 minutes until tender and translucent. Raise heat slightly and stir several minutes until very lightly browned. Stir in the grated and dried zucchini and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Toss and turn for 5 to 6 minutes until the zucchini is almost tender. Sprinkle in the flour, stir over moderate heat for 2 minutes, and remove from heat.

Assemble dish: Measure the drained liquid from the zucchini. If you have less than 2 1/2 cups, add milk to bring the level up to it. (I became sidetracked and mine drained for an hour; I ended up with the full 2 1/2 cups and needed no milk.) Stir into zucchini-onion mixture, return pan to stove over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer, stirring. Remove from heat again, stir in par-cooked rice and all but 2 tablespoons cheese. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.

Turn into a 2-quart baking dish, or 2 smaller 1-quart dishes (as I did, with the intention of freezing one). Sprinkle with reserved cheese and remaining olive oil, although I apparently used butter instead, because: butter

You can cook it right away, or let it sit until 30 minutes before you want to serve it.

30 minutes before serving: Heat oven to 425 degrees. Bake in upper third of oven until bubbling and browned on top, about 25 to 30 minutes. (If yours begins to brown too quickly, you can cover it with foil until the last 5 minutes.) The rice should absorb all the liquid. Serve immediately.

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260 comments on zucchini rice and cheese gratin

  1. Christine

    AAAAHHHH you guys make the cutest, sweetest babies.

    I love this time of year too. It’s the summer weather I want, coolish nights, beautiful days. *sigh*

    I have a pile of zucchini that are going to become a parmiggiana tonight…but it’s September! I have a little more time to get this into the rotation too. Maybe double the recipe and freeze some for winter when I miss zucchini. Did you freeze it after cooking in the oven or before?

  2. Jane M

    My favorite time of the year as well – got married on the most glorious September day (a day like TODAY) and even tho it was still summer, I considered us married in the FALL! HAHA! I like this time of year as everyone is BACK TO IT! I like to complain ALL SUMMER that I DON’T HAVE MY SUMMERS OFF – grrrrr. Must be the jealous gene in me … so yeah YAY for FALL and back to more cooking and baking! Your bitsy baby is a real cutie by the way!

  3. Liz

    Deb, this is so weird–I JUST made this (it’s in Genius Recipes, which I just got and is running my cooking life for now) and was wondering a) whether you’d ever made it and b) whether there was anything you’d do to streamline it. And here it is! Also: DELICIOUS.

    (And yes: I love your zucchini/rice/tomato gratin, but oy, the process.)

  4. What does “although broth” mean? If I want to freeze this, should I be baking it all the way through and then freezing it? Par-baking it?

    Right now in my freezer are my own take on your broccoli parmesan fritters — I did them with cauliflower. And the double chocolate banana bread to have on hand if people unexpectedly stop by. (Every time I take Lilli grocery shopping she asks for bananas and never eats them. Every. Single. Time.)

    Happy New Year, Deb.

  5. Claire F

    This sounds amazing. My husband bought me the books just after the film came out and sadly I’ve never made anything out of them! How do you think this would work out in a slow cooker?

  6. Julia Child had a thing for rice! She uses is to thicken soups (great for GF thickening) and also in a thing called “soubise” which is caramelized onion and gruyere. Gorgeous! Putting this on the weekend menu.

    PS I have made your “addictive” cucumber-avocado salad dozens of times this summer. My favorite add-in? Blueberries. Swoon. Totally addictive.

  7. Steph

    Adding to the inevitable chorus of “how do I do this with XXX trendy and marginally healthier grain”… Just add extra broth to the zucchini liquid until it’s enough to cook brown rice or farro?

  8. Margie

    I have made it for years; in fact, it was one of the first things I made from Julia’s #2 book. I never (!) modify the recipe – don’t be tempted as it is perfect just as it stands. I felt positively redeemed when Food 52 choose it for their book “Genius Cooking.” Because that’s exactly what it is.

  9. alex

    This looks like the best way to use up our boatload of summer squash from our CSA while preparing for our own imminent arrival! Since we got ours that way, I have no idea how much they weigh. It looks like for you 2.5lbs equalled 5 large zucchini? Also wondering about the when to freeze question, and whether it would need to thaw before being reheated…

  10. Kathleen Camp

    Hi Deb,
    Do you think it would be possible to substitute brown rice? Would you increase the liquid? Also, if you substituted brown rice do you think it would be essential to par cook it as well or could you attempt to skip that step?

  11. Seasoned meal-freezers please ignore these dorky questions: do I cook this dish all the way through, cool & then freeze, or freeze the dish once assembled? And if freezing assembled & uncooked is the answer, do I defrost or pop right in the oven? Adjustment to cooking time? It occurs to be that my rapid-fire questions sound a little frantic, but uh, this is dish needs to get.in.my.freezer.

    (First time commenter, though I will sheepishly admit, I have been blog stalking & singing your praises FOR EVAH. When I need a recipe, your blog is invariably the first place I look. You’re a treasure!)

  12. deb

    To freeze — I baked it before I froze it. However, I like baking things just a hair pale if I’m going to be freezing them, so they don’t get too dark when reheated.

    With other grains — The lovely Sprouted Kitchen blog made this with brown rice. Sara writes: “Mine took longer in the oven than the recipe led me to believe but that may have been because of the brown rice. The recipe suggests the oven at 425′ but I went with 400′ since it needed to be in there a good 35 minutes and I didn’t want it to burn.” So, I think other grains would be fine, but if they take longer to cook than white rice, you’ll want to anticipate that with a longer baking time at a lower temperature or at the same temperature but with foil on top for maybe half the cooking time.

  13. Carissa

    I don’t have a way to weigh my zucchini :( I have FIVE quart-sized freezer bags of already shredded zucchini in my freezer (my plants died early), each with about 2 cups of shredded zucchini in them. Anyone have an estimate of how many cups of shredded zucchini I should need for this recipe?

  14. Karin

    Deb, it’s as if you know what’s going on in my head at any moment. I made your other zucchini gratin a couple weeks ago and was thinking about throwing it into the rotation again but it just seemed like so much work for a weeknight. And then, right on time, here you are, saving my weeknight dinners.

    PS – turned your mushrooms bourguignon into a vegetarian shepherd’s pie earlier this week and it was amazing.

  15. September and October used to be my favorite months of the year, but having school aged children sure makes it hard to enjoy these glorious two months as much as I used to. They are always complete madness.
    Also-NO EGGS! I was crying a bit inside as I read this post, sure that I wouldn’t be able to try this recipe out for a while because of my middle daughter’s egg allergy. Three cheers! It is on the list.

  16. Nicole R.

    I’m going to add to the chorus of bizarre questions you never anticipated people would ask: What do you think would happen to this without the cheese? Would it still be tasty? Worth my time? A total mess? Should I just try it?

    Also, I think you should add this to your budget category! In-season zucchini + rice is about as budget-friendly as it gets!

  17. Anne

    Mastering, Volume II, is superb, and somehow, freer. Try the eggplant caviar with walnuts, La Tentation de Bramafam…it is killer with toasted pita bread.
    Richard Olney, The Master, in his Simple French Cooking has a OMG recipe for zucchini gratin with rice…it does call for 2 eggs. Totally delicious!

  18. Charlotte

    Ha, I could have used this recipe last week when I had the world’s largest zucchini in my fridge (I made 2 zucchini breads, 2 pasta and zucchini recipes, zucchini fritters and it was in a thai salad as well – phew). I’ll have to find some smaller zucs at the market and make this pronto. Looks divine (as does your sweet wee one).

  19. Marcia

    I have been making Julia’s grated and sautéed zucchini/ and or yellow squash for years. Easiest side dish ever. Grate, sauté in butter, add a little salt and pepper. People ask “what is this ?” They don’t believe it’s zucchini. They don’t believe something so simple is Julia Child.. It is bright green, buttery delicious, like some new vegetable. No salting, no draining, the extra liquid cooks out while you sauté.
    Can’t give you the page or title as I am not in the same place as Vol. 2, but you really don’t need a recipe.

  20. Marcia

    Makes me wonder then if you need to drain the zucchini … Wouldn’t the liquid in the zucchini just cook the rice, without pouring it back in? Might be worth a try ??

  21. Cindy

    This looks crazy delicious! It seems to me that you could possibly skip squeezing out the water from the zucchini since you are adding it back in. Not only am I super lazy but I prefer my veggies lightly cooked so if it works, it would be win-win.

  22. I had the intention of making ratatouille this weekend and didn’t and was wondering what to do with all those zuchs! Now that one can finally tun on an oven this will be perfect

  23. Having no children and a job that means I don’t eat dinner with my husband most nights, this still looks like the type of cook once, eat many times meals I like to make so neither of us live off of canned soup. I feel like I’m seeing this all over the place- it’s probably time to try it.

  24. Rena

    We love your tomato zucchini gratin! I have streamlined it by just roasting the onions with the other veggies. Then all you need to do it layer them with the rice mixture and you are done. Can’t wait to try this one!

  25. Emily

    Yum! This is great! We had a overzealous zucchini plant this year that left us with 3 giant zucchinis by the end of the season. We shredded them and threw them in the freezer (after baking two zucchini cakes first) but still have a ton to work through – this will definitely be on the list for dinners this week! I’ll have to research the draining of frozen zucchini though… hmm.

  26. Loving every single thing about this recipe and I want to gobble it down right now! And I agree about NYC and your heat comments. It’s the most exciting city in the world to visit, except on garage day which is decidedly unpleasant. So I’ve decided that Fall is the best visiting time. Just the word gratin is such a happy word.

  27. bear

    Question: I must be missing something…. why take drain out the zucchini juice only to add it back in? Why not just saute the veg and toss it all together and bake it?

  28. Elise

    This is exactly what I want to make! But I’m intimidated by all of the draining, squeezing, and blotting dry. Will the world end if I skip this step?

  29. I *wish* I had that in the freezer right now. I’m in the process of making a dessert buffet for a friend’s wedding on Sunday and I officially have no energy for dinner tonight. We will probably be ordering in. Next time, I will totally plan ahead (right?)…

  30. Erin

    So exciting! I am always looking to process a mountain of zucchini, and just when I thought we should give up, along comes this. Thank you! As an aside, our new family favorite recipe comes from A Girl and Her Greens by April Bloomfield–Stewed Zucchini. Although the name leaves a little to be desired, this is a super-simple, one-pot dish that (doubled, which we always do) allows four or five people to plow through three or so pounds of zucchini without realizing what’s happened. It’s vegan, but somehow creamy, supports parmesan cheese, and is great on toast. So worth adding to the list.

  31. bea

    Deb, what kind of rice did you use? The one in your picture looks like basmati or some kind of long and fast-cooking rice, but i have a shelf full of carnaroli and vialone nano, who take almost twice as long to cook – shoud I try with those, maybe par-boiling them a little longer?

  32. Lisa

    Every fall, I make your butternut squash galette from your cookbook – but actually I make like 8 or 16 single-size ones (I can’t remember if I usually double the recipe, too). They bake beautifully from the freezer, still with that wonderful flaky crust… and quite a good trick to pull off when friends come over or stay longer unexpectedly too!

  33. Wow, this looks like such a nice feelgood dish!
    I’ve been on the hunt for new recipes for zucchinis and this is definitely one I’m going to try out on the next gloomy Saturday and Sunday. Thank you for sharing this gem! <3

  34. Teresa

    This looks great! I’m excited to make it for a crowd thus weekend. Would this be a dish that could be prepped, refrigerated, then baked later? Thanks!

  35. MR in NJ

    My favorite recipe from Vol. II is Pea-Pod Soup. People’s eyes light up: What’s this? Familiar, yet not. Different and special, and yes, freezes just fine. So many years of throwing the pods away in the spring….

  36. I’m a pretty new cook – I’m teaching myself to cook as an adult since I never learned growing up! I’d love to make this as a side for a dinner party but I think it’d look lovely plated in tiny individual ramekins. To the Smitten Kitchen comment community: Do you think it’s possible to do this? How do I adjust cooking time? I did a google search but didn’t get any general information to help me figure this out. This is the first time I’ve ever thought about modifying a recipe on my own and it’s both an exciting and scary thought! I’ll absolutely test-run it before serving it to guests, of course. I’m not that confident in the kitchen…yet :)

  37. Alicia

    Oh! Deb, do you have John Thorne’s “Simple Cooking”? He has several similar dishes I love, a chard one and a spinach and a couple of pumpkin ones for a later in the fall. I searched for “pumpkin tian simple cooking” and it came up as the first result for me in Google Books.

  38. Kate in MN

    Hi Elizabeth #61: I wouldn’t hesitate to make a dish like this in individual ramekins, if that’s your inclination. My experience when adjusting batch or baking size (ie baking it in a deeper/more shallow dish, or multiple small dishes, or doubling the recipe, etc etc) is that frequent checking on the item serves me best.
    Enjoy your foray into the wide world of recipe tweaking! After two decades of strict recipe-following, I have spent the last handful of years adapting recipes as I prefer, and…it’s great.

  39. This reminds me of a healthy grownup version of the broccoli-rice-cheese casserole my family ate when I was young. That was made with the ubiquitous “Campbells Cream of God Knows What” soup cans.

    Thanks for a healthy real food alternative, and for using my favorite cast iron casserole pan.

    Love your food styling.


  40. Jetagain

    I read your blog as much for the writing as for the recipes. As a retired English teacher and professional writer–“The Life Cycle of the Honeybee” was one of my triumphs–I’d like to suggest that it’s really poor style to use the noun, “gift”, as a synonym for the verb, “give”. You’re much better than that.

  41. I have a ginooormous courgette from the garden that will be so perfect surrounded by pools of melted butter, cheese and rice. Although, is there anything that isn’t wonderful when surrounded by pools of melted butter and cheese? Totally scumptious.

  42. Dahlink

    Jetagain (#70), gift as a verb also makes my teeth ache, but I did a bit of research and discovered that it’s considered acceptable in British English (by way of the Scots, if I recall correctly).

  43. Alexandra

    sharon c – it means Deb is linking to recipes currently suited to those of us in the southern hemisphere. Her recipes are seasonal and of course we are in a different season to those of you in the northern hemisphere.

  44. Gerley

    Deb, you are a saint. I know you read these comments since you answer to them and yet you are always sweet and helpful. You give so many hints and options and alternatives and never make a passive aggressive stab at your readers – which a lot of bloggers do after a while. I understand their frustration but reading texts always peppered with comments on how the readers might react gets very meta very fast and adds to the negativity.
    I would never have that much restraint so I bow to your wisdom not only in matters of cooking but also netiquette and obviously patience and love for the community!
    As a thank you I want to gift you a box of uncooked brown rice but I fear it might make your teeth ache so I will just tell you that you are my favorite blogger in the whole wide web, Deb!

  45. Deb, if you have a parmesan-hater in your house, what other kinds of MILD cheeses could you use? We mostly eat cheddar and jack, but I realize that the texture is so different than the drier parmesan.
    Thanks, and L’Shana Tovah.

  46. Kristin

    Oh my goodness! That baby! What a dolly! Also, this recipe sounds delicious…. a great use for the zucchini waiting in my fridge. On as side note, I made your brioche pretzels from your cookbook recently. I think my family thought I was nuts, but I could not stop talking about them. Seriously, one of the best things I’ve ever eaten.

  47. Vidya

    Since I grew up in an Indian household with rice on the table every night the idea of rice + cheese is still just so…bizarre? Even risotto weirds me out at times. I remember cheese rice – literally cheddar cheese melted onto white rice – was a staple at my preschool. Toddler me didn’t like it. Having said that, Luisa at The Wednesday Chef just posted a recipe for a Sicilian baked rice with eggplant, peppers and tomatoes that I’ve made twice in a week, so this is definitely next. I like the technique, using the liquid from the zucchini to cook the rice in the oven is so smart.

  48. Ariel

    I am new to gluten free cooking since my daughter was recently diagnosed with celiac disease. Can anyone more experienced advise how to make this delicious sounding recipe GF? Can you just leave out the bit of flour, or do you need to substitute a GF flour instead?

  49. Mandy

    Thank you, Deb! I made this last night for dinner and it was huge hit. I forgot to rinse the salted zucchini and was worried midway through that the dish would be too salty. No matter. I used 50/50 water and milk instead of the reserved zucchini water, since I didn’t want to add any more salt. Final dish Came out great. I also had perfect results not pre-cooking the rice (I used jasmine).

  50. Sara

    This sounds like exactly what I’ve been craving! I love that zucchini is still the clear star here, and that it’s not drowned in a flood of cheesy sauce like so many casseroles are wont to do. Do you think this would work equally well with a sharp grated cheddar instead of a Parmesan?

  51. Suzanne

    I can’t wait to make this – thanks so much for sharing the recipe!
    P.S. Mind if I ask what type of camera you use for your food photography? I love all of the images – nicely done.

  52. Gail

    oh, and I forgot to add to my previous comment: I am now a devotee of cheesecloth in my draining of things like zucchini and potatoes (for fritters and latkes, and for this kind of dish I’d imagine, too). I can wring out so much more liquid when I bundle up all those grated strands in cheesecloth, compared to pressing in a colander or squeezing by hand.

  53. deb

    Elise/Bear/Cindy/Re, do you really need to grate, salt and drain the zucchini? — Chalk it up to me being a million months pregnant when I made this and a wee bit sleep deprived when I wrote this, but someone also asked on FB yesterday if the draining then re-adding the drained liquid steps would just balance each other out. I said that the thing was that you didn’t know how much liquid you were going to get from the zucchini and if it’s less than 2.5 cups, you’ll need some milk or other liquid to compensate. But then — here’s the DUH moment — I remembered that I’d unintentionally let mine drain forever and indeed got 2.5 cups liquid just from the zucchini. In conclusion, I hope to make this again very soon and skip the whole salting and draining process altogether and let you know how it goes. Theoretically, there should be enough liquid in the zucchini to cook the par-boiled rice, yes? Even if it will take longer because you’ll need the zucchini to first collapse?

    “Gifted” — I never realized! Now fixed. P.S. The not-so-big secret is that I’m a terrible grammarian; you wouldn’t want to know about my initial SAT verbal score. Pretty much everything I do passably now is purely from the regular practice of writing/correcting/being corrected over the last 12+ years.

    Jetagain — How awesome are you? Serious question: Amazon says your book is for ages 4 and up. Is it really geared for kids? My son is petrified of bees and I think it would be cool to get him a book that gave him a fuller picture.

    Using other types of cheese — I don’t see why not.

    Ariel/to make this gluten-free — I definitely think you could use a GF flour blend here instead.

    S. McIntyre — You can see them in the recipe index over here. And thank you!

    Suzanne — Thank you. I use a Canon 5D Mark II that’s 7 years old and a 50mm lens; I think trying to shoot in natural light is a gazillion times more important and impactful on photos than a fancy camera, though.

    Gerley — Thank you. I have my moments, but I — not to sound overly twee — still think it’s pretty cool that I get to do this everyday and try to remember that. Also, see my comment above, re, “being corrected,” I seriously learn a lot from comments. So much for not sounding twee.

    Glen — That reminds me (thanks Carissa!), I have a version of that too. (But with all real ingredients!)

    sharon — I have been surprised/delighted to learn that a lot of people who read this site live in Australia and New Zealand, where it is now heading from winter into spring. Thus, they’re not seeing apples and plums, but spring produce, or will soon. So I try to highlight recipes that might speak to what they’re cooking.

    Elizabeth — As Kate said, I think you’d be just fine making this in ramekins. The cooking time will be less, but I bet not significantly less because it takes rice a certain amount of time to cook regardless of vessel size. I’d check in halfway through, though, just to be safe.

    Alicia — No, I hadn’t heard of it. I should pick up a copy? I bet Bonnie Slotnick has one!

    bea — I used a long-grain rice, can’t remember the type (maybe Carolina?) but for short-grained thicker rice, just increase the cooking time. Maybe cover with foil for the first 2/3 so it doesn’t brown too much too fast.

  54. Kathryn

    These days, any recipe that looks this delicious and includes the words “giant pyramid of cheerleading zucchini” is what’s for dinner. Thank goodness the CSA share didn’t have zukes this week because my one plant is overproducing even though temperatures have chilled and it’s soggy wet out. The freezer already has enough shredded zucchini and zucchini bread. What a great problem to have!

  55. marcella

    Hi Deb, what is your rice’s standard cooking (boiling) time? I have some on hand that cooks in 8 mins, some in 12 mins, some in 15 and some in 20: which one should I use?

    also, I often use the salt-and-squeeze method with zucchini because I love how it takes the bitter water out of them: I confess I am a bit perplexed at the thought of putting it back in and even cooking the rice in it. But if you say it’s good it must be good, so I’ll take a leap of faith – and let you know how we liked it :)

    thanks for another wonderful recipe.

  56. Lila

    Yumazing! Made this for dinner tonight and my husband and I both loved it. I’m going to do something crazy and try to juice some broccoli and make it with that. The plan is to use the solid broccoli that is shredded by the juicer (pulverized, more accurately) in place of the shredded zucchini and use the juice…I realize that you have a broccoli and wild rice gratin recipe but I just love the consistency of this recipe. Thanks for another winner :)

  57. Leah

    Perfect way to use up the baseball bat-sized zucchini I just got at the farmers’ market! I’m new to Maldon sea salt; can you sub it in the same amounts for kosher salt in a recipe like this? More or less? Or is it just better as a finishing salt, rather than a cooking salt?

  58. Ishtar

    Tried this last night and LOVED IT. I wanted to hug this meal. While I cut the recipe in half to get 3 servings, I am beyond excited to go home and eat my leftovers. Did my own modifications and I used couscous instead of rice (was out of rice) so left it completely uncooked when stirring it in before the oven and it worked AMAZING. I also did a mix of Parmesan and Havarti (helped with the browning process) and added roasted peppers (needed to get rid of them) and turkey bacon (had a few slices left).

    Great recipe and wonderful suggestion on letting the water drain longer from the zucchini. Needed no milk! Also I saw that someone asked about making it GF. I used GF all-purpose and it worked wonderfully!

  59. JP

    After much pondering and knowing I am the only one out of all your readers to make this negative comment, I am going to go ahead. Please forgive me if I sound like a complete prude (maybe its because I am old enough to be your mother), but one of the reasons I love, love, love your writing is because it is 100% clean language. It is so refreshing not to have to play dodge ball with a blog…will it have bad language, or not? I may be the only reader that the term “…kicked my a**” bothered, but I just want to remind you know that there are other ways to say that same thing that won’t offend anyone. You will never go wrong using clean language and can still express yourself in the darling way you normally write. Thanks Deb for considering this! I have read your blog from the beginning and plan to continue because it is one of my favorites.

  60. Susan

    I just made a double-batch intending to freeze one. I hate to ask what may seem like a basic question, but … should one freeze the batch destined for the freezer before, or after, one bakes it? Many thanks!

  61. MyCityMyLOndon

    I make Zoodles all the time but this is def a knew way to use courgettes! Can’t wait to try it:) Although I am thinking what else i can use instead of the cheese, to make it dairy-free. Any suggestions?

  62. RG1

    I love the one pot pasta idea and do something similar with rice, onions, tomato, greens, sausage. The thing abt removing the zucchini(tomato in my case) water is that it helps to make the rice more like risotto. That is, i toast rice with sausage and then only add liquid as rice absorbs it. I add veg early, because they release liquid as they cook. Of course that means I stand over the stove stirring instead of baking it, but worth it!

  63. Gretchen

    I made this tonight. I am not quite ashamed to say I ate one half of it for dinner. The other half is supposed to go to the freezer, but the thought of it waiting for me after work tomorrow might be too much to overcome. You never fail me, Deb.

  64. ClanMorgan

    Tried this tonight and it was fantastic! Went over with rave reviews from my whole family, including a not-easily impressed 5 year old! We ended up mixing in 3/4 lb lean ground beef and serving it as the main dish with slices of roasted delicata squash. Thanks – this is will make repeat appearances for sure!

  65. September, it’s’a’my’favo’month too! I didn’t even know it was okay to admit … it seems so plain. But now that Smitten’s admitted she’s a fan – all is right :)

    Simply the mention of a ‘pyramid’ of salted, garlic’d, onion’d parmesan’d zucchini, just nails it. –Keeper recipe.

  66. Thanks for this Deb, just when I needed to actually cook something and not just make tacos with some shredded cabbage slaw. I made it last night and I food processes my zucchini and added pulverized dinosaur kale as well, which was a welcome addition. I didn’t rinse my zucchini a second time because I was being lazy (and the recipe is already pretty labor intensive) and it turned out a bit on the salty side. I will rinse it next time.

  67. This looks SO good! I love all that zucchini that’s get mixed in….fabulous! And don’t beat yourself up…Julia Child’s books are huge and it’s pretty much impossible to see and know every recipe! Hope you enjoy the rest of your September! XO

  68. Angela

    Ok, I had a major pregnancy craving for this and made it last night – it was delicious!

    I let my zucchini drain for about 25 minutes and then squeezed it, got about 1.5 cups of liquid – so I added a cup of milk. I didn’t parboil the rice – decided to chance it, and it all came out really well – it was seriously amazing – how can zucchini, parmesan, and rice taste so amazing? I made one to freeze but I ate half of it today for lunch ;) The butter on the top is amazing – the top had a perfect buttery crunch.

    I forgot to add the flour – it was still great, but I’ll try to be more careful next time & see how it goes.

  69. Penny

    Thanks, making this was fun! (I don’t do much that’s this complex.) I tried to halve the recipe and I ended up with too much liquid and too salty (even though I rinsed the zuke a second time. I will definitely try again though. I think this would be a great side at a big dinner!

  70. Julie

    Made this today–followed the directions to a “t”–yet way too much liquid left in dish after it cooked. Delicious flavor, but I think next time I would not salt and drain zucchini. That would also simplify- too many steps for such few and simple ingredients. Also I would recommend cooking in a shallow casserole dish for more crust on top. Worth another try!

  71. Mimi (another one :)

    I made it today and used too much salt – don’t know how “kosher” salt translates into my kind of salt. But it is still delicious, just a tad too salty.

    I also would like less steps in this recipe, but I don’t know if it would work if you don’t drain the zucchini.

    When you drain, you have a puddle of water/milk on the bottom of your dish for the rice to cook in.
    If you leave the zucchini as it is, the rice lies “on the dry” so to speak. Maybe the water doesn’t come out of the zucchini fast enough (in the baking process) so that the rice has enough time to cook through.

    Maybe I’ll try it again without softening the zucchini in the pan (with onions etc.)

  72. Leeleecooks

    I followed the recipe exactly and it was a tad watery. Would not parboil the rice next time and cook at a slightly lower temp. Also added some nutmeg and basil before I baked. Apologies to Julia but it was better.

  73. Adria

    I made this tonight, following the exact directions but with brown rice and it was fantastic. I did parboil the rice. I probably backed off on the oil a bit (didn’t measure).i had to add about 3/4 cup of milk to my zucchini juice.
    My thought on the necessity of draining/drying the zucchini: though you just add the water back, cooking the dried zucchini allows it to caramelize instead of steam, adding to the flavor.
    Thank you Deb, it was the hit of the dinner party!

  74. sara

    So, I approached this recipe with some skepticism, having dealt with watery rice-and-veg casseroles in the past. And true to form, this one was indeed incredibly watery – it took 50 minutes for it to resemble the photographs here. If I make this one again, I won’t be adding the zucchini juices back – just a cup of milk, which seems much more suited to the recommended cooking time here.

  75. I have Vol. II and would like to highlight this recipe. What page is this on, having trouble finding this. Chocolate cakewith almonds is amazing. I just made yourpear breadastweekend and it was a huge hit. Delicious.

  76. Erika

    I made this tonight and it was good, but it definitely felt like more of a side dish than a main (we eat 95% vegetarian so it wasn’t about lack of meat, but for us, this needed something else to bulk it up). Next time I might use all milk instead of the zucchini juice, and more cheese and maybe an egg or two to help firm it up. And maybe more rice, like 3/4 cup, to help it absorb some of the liquid. But it’s a cool technique–glad I tried it!

  77. CL

    Made this tonight! Simple and easy – I’m struggling with what to pair it with so I think I may fry an egg over it for the husband and add a chunk of bread. I, on the other hand, am happy to just eat it straight. Letting it cool is a must. I followed the recipe exactly, and ended up with over 2.5 cups of zucchini water. I tossed out the extra.

    Someone asked above if they would put it in the fridge before cooking – I would cook right away (so it didn’t get more watery) and then reheat the next day as needed. More opportunity to throw some cheese on top.

  78. Yael

    I made this last week and it was delicious. I didn’t have parmesan and substituted shredded gruyere instead which was terrific. I am guessing it would work well with leeks instead of onions and might try that next time. Thank you for a wonderful recipe.

  79. Shauna

    Thanks! You just saved my life (I think) ;) I had a couple of zucchini on the porch waiting their turn to turn into something yummy, but when I looked out there the other day there were MORE…and last night they had multiplied again. I think we have a breeding problem or something, as I can’t imagine where they’re coming from if they’re not reproducing while I sleep. They’ll shortly be in my freezer in this cheesy goodness and halted from their goal of taking over the world! :) I’ve never made one of your recipes yet that has failed to please my super picky tribe. Please keep it coming!!

  80. I made this on Saturday night, and it was dinner along with a fried egg. It was perfect!
    I followed the recipe, with the following lazy cheats…
    I didn’t feel like parboiling the rice, so I added cold water to it in the measuring cup, and let it sit til it was needed. When it was time to add it to the mixture, I simply drained it and was good to go. I used the full 2.5 cups of liquid in the gratin, and a long-grain white rice, and had zero issues with excess liquid. It baked up perfectly, in 30 minutes exactly.
    I also used my 12 inch cast iron skillet for the entire recipe, stovetop to oven. (I was all about fewer dishes this weekend!).
    My other lazy cheat was to NOT rinse the salty drained zucchini. I just didn’t salt the onions or zucchini while cooking, and it all worked out perfectly.
    Thanks, Deb. It’s a keeper!

  81. Tamara

    I didn’t have any zucchini so I made this with an eggplant over the weekend and it was decadent and delicious. I didn’t want to make it dairy so I added all broth, left out the parmesan cheese, and I used farro because I felt like it. It’s a super adaptable recipe and was fab!! Thank you!

  82. mirandamidas

    I’ve made this twice in the last few days now, adding some crumbled sausage meat to the onions as they cooked, so that there was sausage rubble spread through the gratin to make it a main dish rather than a side – it was seriously great. I only had arborio risotto rice to hand, so boiled it for 10 mins before adding into the veg. I really liked the bigger grains. I used cheddar the first time and parmesan the second (was just what I had in fridge), both tasted delicious. I found I didn’t need nearly as much olive oil, so I cut that right back the second time to just one tbsp. I didn’t quite have enough zucchini the second time, so padded it out with a little very finely grated carrot – went really well and looked pretty too! I was skeptical at using so much zucchini in one dish – it truly is a huge amount – but I trusted that Julia Child and Deb must surely be right, and they were :-) Great recipe that I will definitely make again. For others looking to pad this out to become a main dish, I would think some shredded chicken, pancetta, crisped bacon or flaked salmon might all go really nicely, and are on my list to try next.

  83. Hope Denney

    We grow zucchini here through early October, and we’re constantly looking for something new and enticing to do with it. This is just the ticket!

  84. Ivy

    Just made this tonight and it was very good. Did not parboil the rice and it was fine. Did not find the zucchini too salty and got just a hair under 2.5 cups (just topped with a splash of water.

    Next time I would do the following: double the garlic, add a dash of nutmeg, and top with a mix of breadcrumbs and cheese for a crunchier texture. We made a full batch as a side and the three of us still ate 4/5ths of it.

  85. Deb

    I made this on Friday night and had some of the leftovers for lunch on Saturday and it was SO good. I want to make it again some time round about right now.

  86. Holly C

    I made this last night for dinner, and even though my husband and son aren’t big fans of zucchini they loved this. My son made a point to tell me a few times how good it was. Thanks for the recipe! I love your website.

  87. MaggieToo

    Made this and loved it so much I immediately made a double batch and stashed four 1-quart pans of it in the freezer, since I could tell it would freeze like a champ and provide a luxurious side for a fast dinner, or even go solo as a lunch.

    STRONGLY recommend:
    1– following Ivy’s suggestion of adding a dash of nutmeg
    2– adding some dairy with the reserved veg water; it gives it a touch of richness that amps it up.

  88. erinc

    Deb, To your plan to publish more freezer friendly meals, do you think your Broccoli, Cheddar and Wild Rice casserole would freeze well? I imagine I’d assemble all the components (as the broccoli and rice get cooked on their own) and then freeze it? I’m stocking the freezer for Baby #1’s arrival in January and we LOVE this dish as a winter staple.

  89. nzle

    In case anyone was wondering if it will all turn out okay when you realize belatedly that you are out of rice and sub in broken-up nests of fideos instead: it will all turn out okay, and in fact deliciously!

  90. Brittany W

    I saw your response about subbing in a gluten-free flour blend, but am wondering if cornstarch would work as well in place of flour? If so, is it the same quantity?

  91. caarin

    Made this Sunday night and loved it. I followed directions to the letter except – I did not parboil the rice – and I used short grain Japanese white rice. I threw the rice in with the the sautéed onion as if it were risotto. There was a bit of liquid in the bottom of the dish when I served it but it was completely absorbed by the rice overnight and was even better the second day. Am making now, again, for a break fast tomorrow. Thanks for the recipe Deb!

  92. Jess

    Thanks for the recipe. I just wanted to report that I used raw Arborio rice (not parboiled) and it worked well. Also, I had only 1/2 cup of zucchini liquid, and only 1/2 cup of milk left, so I added a tablespoon of Chicken Base and another cup of tap water. It was delicious!

  93. deb

    Jean — You might be able to but it also might look a little curdly since the mixture is damp for most of the baking. I might instead dollop some on top after baking.

    Cornstarch — Would probably be fine for the flour here, too.

    nzle — Now you have me dreaming of a pasta bake. Maybe with orzo!

    JenH — With cooked brown rice, hard to say. The liquid from the zucchini cooks the rice. I suppose you could skip the liquid and use the cooked rice, but I’m not sure how it will turn out.

    (Btw, in the oven right now, as promise, is an audition of this dish with half as many steps. If nothing else, it smells good. I’ll keep you all posted.)

  94. G

    Had this yesterday and while it was not uninteresting, it was missing something in texture IMO. Can’t quite put the finger on it just now. Some oomph (chili powder?), some crunch, some… something. Thank you nevertheless!

  95. Rachel

    Thank you so much for this recipe! I made it Monday night and it was delicious. My picky 2 year old sidekick who currently doesn’t eat anything besides peas, cheese, strawberries, and beans turned up his nose at it but for once I didn’t care, more for me! A note on not parcooking the rice: I found that if I choose to not pre cook the rice (one less step and one less pot) I definitely needed to cover the dish for a good portion of the baking time to get the rice to cook. Hope this helps and I can’t wait to make this again. Thank you.

  96. Priyanka

    I made this dish with brown rice and it took foreverrrr to cook. I did make it in a convection oven (since that’s all I have in my teeny kitchen) and it took almost an hour! I had two batches and I just cooked the second batch on the stove (no yummy crunchy bits, but still yummy).

    I have an obscene amount of zucchini (due to my inability to read a scale and distinguish between kgs and lbs) so I am going to try again but this time cook the brown rice for much longer before I stick it in the oven.

    But the dish was really good (even though it was only ready after dinner was done)

  97. Kris

    Yikes! I cooked this following the recipe exactly but using a brown rice I often cook with – I put it in the oven for the better part of an hour, and it was still extremely watery and the rice was even still a bit undercooked! I only got about a cup of juice out of my zucchini, so I added 1.5 cups milk. The zucchini seemed to be dry enough after squeezing and leaving it to drain a bit more on paper towel, so I really don’t know why it just didn’t work…it came out tasting like watery zucchini with a salty/cheesy flavour. As someone who hates grating large quantities of things, I don’t think it will be something I’ll try again!

  98. Tracey

    Tried this with Bomba rice (all i had on hand), I par-boiled because of the thickness and used 2.25 cups of combined drained liquid and milk..it turned out amazing!! Added a little bit of nutmeg and it was fantastic. I have enough to eat with eggs in the am! Another fab dish Deb!

  99. Jenna B.

    I made this tonight without parboiling the rice, and I am pleased to say that it turned out perfectly. For reference, I used regular old store brand basmati rice, shredded the zucchini in the food processor, and stirred in two well-beaten eggs just before baking because I loved the consistency and richness the eggs bring to the zucchini tomato and rice gratin. The crispy bits of the edges and the cheese on top were the best parts. I do love the gratin, but with the shredding done in the food processor and no need to roast the veggies or pre-boil the rice, this one is much more likely to become a weeknight standard for my house. Only about the millionth time I’ve said that about a smitten kitchen recipe. Thanks for all you do, Deb!

  100. Deepa

    We loved this! Made a half recipe to use up three summer squash we had lying around. Didn’t rinse the squash post-draining and didn’t parboil the rice (Trader Joe’s jasmine). I forgot to add/cook the flour until after the liquid was already in, but it worked out just fine. Topped up the squash juices with the remnants of a container of sour cream and a splash of water. I do not care for zucchini and summer squash (unless they’re hidden away in bread or pancakes), but I could not put my fork down with this. Thanks, Deb!

  101. Brooke

    Deb, wondering how the updated, streamlined recipe went. I’m trying to decide whether to make this or the sauteed zucchini that Marcia mentioned above (comment 36). Love, love, love this blog, btw.

  102. Jennifer

    Made this over the weekend – and we all loved it! I’ll have to try to remember not to over salt the zucchini next time – I tossed it on with abandon before remembering the liquid would be re-added. A wee bit overly salty – but some in my family like that kind of thing. I may have to try this with the egg addition that someone else mentioned – and will look forward to trying it sans salting/draining/ squeezing if that turns out ok.

  103. I made this for dinner last night and it was a big hit! Now, I’m happily eating leftovers for lunch. I would just suggest cooking it in two dishes — as Deb did — instead of one. My one dish took about 55 – 60 minutes to absorb the liquid.

    Also a note for Celiacs: I used sweet rice flour instead of wheat flour and it was perfect.

    Thanks for another great dish, Deb!

  104. Lizzy

    This was delightful. My family gobbled it up. However, I cooked this in a high-sided 2 quart casserole dish, and I wound up having to cook it for 30 minutes longer than the recipe stated.

  105. Claire

    I subbed quinoa for the rice but felt that it was too mushy. I would add more quinoa or less liquid next time. I also think herbs such as thyme or parsley would enhance the flavor.

  106. Phoebe

    I made this for a vegetarian friend newly home after a hospitalization; she said her family loved it. I followed the recipe closely, understanding the need for draining (and de-salinating) while still finding the process quite tedious. Each to their own, but I favor recipes lacking nutmeg and the other New England-ish seasonings. I’ll definitely make this for my household when I have the time.

  107. I made this last night. WOW! so good, a little time consuming but so worth it!! I divided the recipe as suggested but decided not to freeze so we could have later this week. Thanks for the great recipe!

  108. Susan

    I have lurked for years, finally commenting. I made this last night with a mega zucchini and it’s amazing! Much more complex in flavor than I expected from such a short list of ingredients, creamy and almost sweet, this is a dish to make lots every summer. I hope I get a monster crop of zucchini next year!

  109. Irene

    What happened to your measures in grams for the people on the other side of the Atlantic???? I’ll have to go to the book :-) I’ve had it for a long time and barely used it, maybe it’s about time for me as well!

  110. KatieK

    The cookbook where I found this originally also gives Julia Child as the source. However, it doesn’t call for keeping the zucchini juice, which is pretty salty. Instead, using 2-1/2 cups warm milk which is added in stages to the zucchini/flour mixture so that it is well incorporated. As this was going to be the main dish, we needed the extra protein the milk provided. I had hoped there would be leftovers, but alas! I also precooked the rice, have each time I’ve made it. Depending on how wide/deep the pan/baking dish really determines how long it’ll take to firm up and brown. This last time I did everything in one skillet so I only had one thing to wash, but it was wider than a time before and it took longer, but not by much.

  111. Melissa

    The same thing happened to my zucchini gratin as Kris described on 9/23. I only got about a cup or cup and half of juice from the zucchini–to which I added milk to make 2.5 cups of liquid. I let the zucchini sit in the colander for about 1/2 an hour, and even used a potato masher to try to squeeze out as much juice as possible. I also used brown rice, which I parboiled for 8 minutes. I baked at 400 (and I do have an oven thermometer) for a full hour, and it was still extremely watery. Tastes good, but the watery texture is not so nice. Does this have something to do with the brown rice? I see on Sprouted Grain she tried what is basically this recipe with brown rice and she says she baked it for 35 minutes.

  112. Michele

    I made exactly as written (shredding the zucchini with the large holes of a grater) and it came out perfectly. I didn’t find it hard to parboil rice for 10 minutes, and I figured white won’t kill me for one recipe. My zucchini didn’t make enough liquid after about 30 minutes, so I did have to add (oops..I guess I did deviate from the recipe) light cream which is all I have for coffee purposes. I’m anxious to hear how the simplified experiment went because this was delicious and I want to make it regularly.

  113. Michele

    I was just thinking that some people got enough liquid, while others didn’t, so skipping the salting and measuring step might sometimes work and sometimes not depending on how juicy your squash is..?

  114. Masha

    Made this tonight and it was tasty but turned out fairly soupy, alas. I think if I make it again I will scale back on the liquid.

  115. Amy

    I made two pans of this and neither made it to the freezer because my family inhaled it. My six year old son has not stopped pestering me about when I will make the green rice again. Absolutely fantastic.

  116. deb

    Irene — Weights now added!

    Kacy — Claire (#158) used quinoa and felt it came out too mushy. I suppose it needs less moisture, so I’d adjust accordingly.

  117. deb

    An overdue update on this dish!

    Several people asked very logical questions after this was published such as: If you drained 2 1/2 cups liquid from the zucchini and need to add 2 1/2 cups liquid back, is that salting and draining process necessary? Related to this, it sounds like many people who did not get 2 1/2 cups liquid from their zucchini and thus added some back found the end results soupy? Also asked: Is the flour absolutely necessary? And does the rice have to be parboiled, can’t you just bake the gratin longer?

    Zucchini is still everywhere at our markets, so I retested this two ways: 1. No salting or draining, but with parboiled rice. 2. No salting or draining but with uncooked rice and 1/2 cup liquid to make up for any liquid it might have absorbed while parboiling. And both times, I forgot the flour (!) and it didn’t matter a whole lot.

    The upshot: It totally works without salting and draining and re-hydrating, with or without parboiled rice. But, it takes a very long time to cook the gratin this way, even if you parboil the rice (so I’d advise not bothering), mostly because it seems to take a long time for the zucchini shreds to release enough liquid to cook the rice; you’ll want to give yourself at least 90 minutes including prep time. This may or may not make it worth it. I feel that what I’m describing below is such a different dish (in process, not taste) that this recipe might benefit from a full refresh next summer, after which I’ll have tested it a few more times. In the interim…

    Here’s how to make it much more simply:

    Heat oven to 325 degrees F. Shred zucchini and place in a large bowl. Oil or butter your gratin dish. Heat oven to 325 degrees.
    Cook the onions cook the onions slowly in 3 tablespoons oil for 8 to 10 minutes until tender and translucent. Raise heat slightly and stir several minutes until very lightly browned. Stir in garlic and cook another minute. Add uncooked rice and sauté for another two minutes. Season generously with salt and pepper.
    Transfer to bowl with zucchini and stir together with all but 2 tablespoons cheese. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
    Transfer to prepared baking dish. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until rice within is cooked but not mush. Increase oven temperature to 450 degrees. Remove foil, drizzle top with remaining olive oil (or dot with butter), sprinkle on remaining cheese and bake uncovered until browned and crisp on top, about another 10 to 15 minutes. For extra color, you can run it under the broiler for one minute at the end.

    1. The 10/3/15 update works beautifully! The second time I made it I sprinkled 2T flour (from original recipe) in at the same time as the uncooked rice. The end result was even better–fully cooked rice, not soupy at all. Spiralizing the zucchini made me feel like my spiralizer wasn’t a total waste of money. Thanks, Deb!

  118. ck

    This looks amazing – I’m just about to try the revised method for this horribly rainy day! Question – when you freeze, do you defrost and then pop in the oven? Any other defrosting tips?

  119. Nancy in CA

    We had two large zucc’s from our CSA so I made this tonight, trying for a half-batch as we only had a bit over a pound of zucchini. I did drain and parboil, because I routinely actually follow directions on a first try with a new dish. We use converted rice here, because I’ve found it handles reheating/freezing/general abuse much better than any other kind. I threw a shot of cream in with the milk because, well, why not? It went beautifully with a ham I’d thrown in a very slow oven this morning and left to its own devices. Now I’m wondering how the leftovers would be with an egg for breakfast…

  120. Julie

    Just made this the lazy way (no draining, no parboiling). It worked wonderfully, and needed only 40 minutes in the oven. I think it helped that the rice, though not parboiled, soaked in water for about twenty minutes before I tossed it in the courgette-onion-cheese mix. Thank you so much for yet another fantastic recipe!

  121. Anna

    So say you shredded all the zucchini and set it to drain, and then your husband pointed out that it was already awfully hot outside to turn on the oven for any extended amount of time. Could one in theory save the shredded zucchini and its liquid in the fridge for a day or two then resume as written? Or would you recommend preparing it up til the baking stage before pausing?

  122. Anne

    I was playing with a new spiralizer attachment for my KitchenAid mixer when I decided to try this recipe, so works with spiralized zukes as well as grated!

  123. Amanda

    This was delicious! My 4.5 yo ate it, 7 yo did not, but rave reviews from our dinner guests. Only problem was it came out salty. Followed to the letter except for leaving out flour as mentioned in your update, and had to add about 1 cup milk. Did not have any trouble with soupiness, and I did do the parboiling step. I wonder if the full 2.5 teaspoons salt is really necessary for the draining process? The squash itself did not taste overly salty, but of course the juices were. I will be trying it again without the parboiling to save a dish, and backing down on salt overall.

    I served this with tomatoes marinated in cranberry balsamic, and the two things combined were absolutely heavenly. The tomatoes helped cut the salt and added more bright flavor. I’ve made your other zucchini rice gratin with tomatoes a few times, and liked it well enough, but this one is both easier and tastier, despite such similar ingredient lists. Maybe I’ll try adding tomatoes to this one next!

  124. Alexander

    Long time reader, first time poster. Never disappointed with your recipes!

    I’ve made this twice. Mine was delicious the first go around but a little too mushy for my preference – I thought it might have been due to the enthusiasm of my food processor. Hand grating the second batch gave it a bit more oomph (I also added more milk rather than zuke juice back in to up the richness cause why not).

    While my boyfriend likes this recipe, I’ve basically eaten two batches by myself and plan to eat another one very soon.

  125. May

    Made the recipe using the simple/revised instructions and it came out amazing! The boyfriend gave it two thumbs up and asked for it to be put in rotation. Can’t wait to start playing around with the recipe!

  126. Tamar

    Made this tonight using the revised instructions and it was really good. If you do decide to revisit this recipe, I have a streamlining suggestion – use an oven-proof pan for sauteeing the onion/garlic, then bake the whole thing in that pan. No casserole dish needed!

  127. Rose

    This may be a foolish question, but I have to ask: can this be made with cooked (leftover) rice? If so, how would one adjust the recipe?

  128. Mandy

    Rose – I just made this with leftover (cooked) rice and it was perfect! I drained the zucchini for a while and got a lot of liquid out, added just a small amount back (not the full 2.5 cups since the rice would not be absorbing as much).

  129. Allison

    I’ve made this twice, exactly as written (I used milk, not broth). It is absolutely delicious. I was amazed at how well the flavor of the zucchini shines through. It is a fair amount of work, but I found that I could shred, drain, and cook the zucchini with the onions/garlic in advance and keep it in the fridge (also the zucchini liquid). Then I just hear it up, add the flour, and proceed with the recipe. It made it more manageable for a regular night’s dinner.

  130. Rebecca

    I made this tonight (with the original instructions) and it turned out well in terms of consistency (I added only 2 cups of liquid instead of 2.5 to combat soupiness) but WOW it was salty! I think I may have made a few mistakes: 1) may have oversalted zucchini initially, 2) may not have rinsed/drained zucchini enough (although I did rinse and drain once since they did taste salty – but I didn’t recheck taste after one rinse, just proceeded), and 3) clearly should not have added MORE salt before baking. I’m also wondering if it’s possible that the parmesan was above average salty? I got the “powdered” kind from the store vs grating my own (shame!!). I’d try it again but be WAY more careful next time!

  131. crysrowe

    This looks so yummy – I can’t wait to try it! Do you think it would freeze well? Or, could you use frozen zucchini?? I have TONS of zucchini from the farm today and am looking for ways to save it for those long, cold days of winter.

    1. crysrowe

      Well – nevermind – just disregard that. I just read a little more closely and answered my own question. Some days Mom-Brain gets the best of me. Trying it tomorrow!

    2. deb

      I have never worked with frozen zucchini before but I think this might work well with it. Plus, anything else you’d use shredded zucchini for, maybe bread, pancakes, fritters, etc. May I offer some suggestions? ;)

  132. natalie

    Hi! I have a comment not the recipe, which looks amazing, but the fact that it was really hard to find the print button. I found it, but it took me a moment because its a tiny icon.

  133. Joanie

    I have made this twice, as written (topping up drained zucchini liquid with whole milk). First time I prepared and baked the dish in a large cast iron skillet. Second time I baked in a glass casserole but the dish turned out quite soupy, so I actually tipped it into a cast iron to bake off some of the liquid. Both times I drained the salted and shredded zucchini for 30-45 minutes.
    I plan to make this again, it’s delicious and a great way to use up in season zucchini, but next time I will try not parboiling the rice (or if I do parboil the rice I will reduce liquid to 2 cups vs. 2.5 cups). And I will always use a cast iron skillet to prepare, bake and serve the dish.

  134. Lisa

    Had this last night after a friend dropped off some zucchini and summer squash. Loved it! It is one of those alchemical dishes that ends up being
    more than the sum of its parts. I used some Swiss cheese in addition to the Parmesan, and also added some nutmeg and a trace of cayenne. It took a little longer to prep than I thought, but was well worth it in the end. I thought the parboiled rice to thicken it all up was ingenious. Very light, too. May throw some leeks in there next time and, who knows, a bit of cooked bacon….

  135. Maria

    Made this tonight and we just loved it!! From the 1 yr old to the 3yr old to 30yr old!
    I did add a shredded carrot just for some extra veggie for the kids.
    It came out far better than I expected, but wasn’t surprised as your recipes never ever ever disappoint me 😘

  136. Julia

    Hey! 2 questions: What would you think about making this with an unnamed yellow-skinned summer squash instead? And what type of gluten-free food might you use in place of the flour for a GF guest? Thank you!

  137. Peeweemee

    I just realized I used twice as much rice as I was supposed to but it turned out great! I also threw in some diced sauteed smoked chicken sausage. So delicious!!!

  138. Nathalie

    I made this! I would recommend cooking the rice for a few minutes before adding it to the zucchini mix. I didn’t cooke the rice, and some of it seems pretty undercooked in the finished dish. Otherwise, this is delicious and a great way to use a bunch of zucchini in the summer time :)

  139. I loved this! I let the zucchini sit for an hour, because I also tend to get distracted, and then I made up the small amount or liquid I needed with some white wine, which will never be a bad choice! Plus I made the whole thing in my Dutch oven so that it was one pot. Shared some leftovers with my coworkers, and one said she could eat this every day for the rest of her life!

  140. Elizabeth

    Thanks for the revision to this, which I had made with part of a large, hidden-under-a-leaf zucchini (which I took from my friend as a favor), and even with most of the seeds removed, it was kinda soupy. I think the revision about adding the rice while sauteeing is really the key. When rice is “prepped” this way, it can cook longer without getting mushy. I’m off to try it again, hoping to find a younger zucchini in my friend’s garden …

  141. putnamk

    I made this last night while tired and hangry. Let me list the ways I screwed this up.

    1) Laziness. Threw the rice in with the onions to pre-cook a bit. Didn’t read instructions that the zucchini was also going to cook for a few minutes.

    2) Undercooked zucchini out of concerns about the rice.

    3) Forgot flour

    4) Poured into too small of a gratin dish. Overflowed.

    5) Continued to overflow while cooking, making my kitchen a smoky mess.

    6) Because kitchen was a smoky mess, pulled it out 5-10 minutes earlier, so rice was still just a hair crunchy.

    It was still so good I just sat there and ate it with a spoon. Can’t wait to make it properly in a better frame of mind.

  142. Joanna

    I have some rather large zucchini and really don’t want to be forced to make zucchini bread. Can I use the big ones for this recipe?

    1. deb

      See here and here about brown rice, here about quinoa… perhaps farro. As with the quinoa, you’ll want to make sure you’re only adding the amount of liquid from the zucchini that you need for farro, not the amount for rice (although perhaps it’s mostly the same?) as this recipe is built on the balance of zucchini liquid provided and rice cooking liquid needed.

    1. deb

      See this commenter, who found it mushy. I think quinoa is tricky because it probably needs less liquid than rice (and baking time). So, you’d want to do the salting, wringing and saving-the-liquid steps in the original recipe directions (second set) and then only add the amount of liquid (usually 1 cup, I think) recommended for 1/2 cup quinoa.

    1. deb

      If it’s already cooked, you’d have to do the salting and wringing out zucchini steps or the liquid in it (which is used to cook the rice) will be excessive.

  143. Ziggy Bracey

    Well this looks delicious! Do you think this would work as a cold lunch in individual portions? Maybe if I cooked it in muffin tins?

    1. deb

      Yes, but it might be tricky to keep them from getting too brown in such small cups before the rice is cooked, if using the updated/easier instructions.

  144. chitowncook

    Made this tonight with some garden zucchini. The end result was delicious, but it took a LONG time to get there. I tried the streamlined version, not minding the extra time in the oven. But my rice wouldn’t cook! At the 60-minute mark, it seemed a little dry, and the rice was still quite crunchy. So I added a little more water and ended up putting it back in for another 25 minutes or so. Then, of course, it was too liquidy and I didn’t get the lovely golden top I wanted. I wish I had put it in a larger dish to make the whole thing more shallow. Maybe that would have worked better. In any case, it was still so delicious!

  145. Sophie

    I made this and it was awesommeeee. This is possibly the most creative use of zucchini yet. I baked it, using the streamlined version, in polish stoneware pan – mentioning since others have commented it matters what to bake in – and it worked beautifully. Will make this again and again. Thanks, Deb, for putting this up on IG yesterday!

  146. Made it today. So good! A couple of slight adjustments: I added grated nutmeg to the mix and finished with some breadcrumbs in addition to the Parmesan and olive oil drizzle. It’s a great side dish for any Sunday dinner or holiday meal. And I can see serving a mound of this gratinee for brunch topped with a poached or sunny-side-up egg. Thanks!

  147. Just made this for my parents — a huge hit!! The updated easy version is so fantastic. I sprinkled the flour into the mixture just because I never say no to extra starch, and did everything (saute and baking steps) in the same skillet. Will be making this a lot!!

  148. So…. I had every intention of making this as you wrote, as a casserole, but I got side tracked and ended up sautéing the zucchini in the aromatics (replaced onion with leeks because of my boyfriend’s allergy) and this turned into a pasta sauce! Would love to try it in a casserole, but the flavors were there for a pasta sauce. It looked a little weird, I’ll admit, but it tasted pretty good!

  149. whitney marie

    This might be a really dumb question, but do you first bake the one you plan to freeze, or put it in the freezer raw? Do you thaw it out before baking it, or put it in the oven frozen and just bake it for longer? Thanks! :)

    1. deb

      I baked it in the pan I froze it in (plus another of the same), you can see it on the left of the second to last photo. You can freeze a regular baking pan, but then you can’t use it until you’ve eaten the frozen dish, so disposable makes more sense.

  150. Jaime

    When you first posted this recipe last year, I thought it looked great, but I was scared off by the complicated preparation. Well, I made this recipe with the simplified instructions over the weekend. This is a glorious recipe. It reheats beautifully for leftovers. It would probably work really well for a potluck too. I will make this again and again. I am going to try freezing a few pans of it too. Thanks Deb!

  151. Krista

    I prepared this as written in the “new” directions. You have the oven temp set at 325, after almost an hour it’s not even close to being done. I just looked at the original recipe and the temp states 425, assuming a typo in the new?? I just bumped my oven up, hoping it’s not ruined.

    1. Krista, the end of the recipe tells you to bump up the temp as you finish cooking “Increase oven temperature to 450 degrees. Remove foil, drizzle top with remaining olive oil (or dot with butter), sprinkle on remaining cheese and bake uncovered until browned and crisp on top, about another 10 to 15 minutes.”

  152. Brittany

    Made this exactly as written in the simplified directions except that I used a shredded cheese and breadcrumbs on top as I ran out of parmesan with just shy of 2/3 cup for the gratin. Delicious, and leftovers were very much enjoyed reheated!!

  153. Elizabeth

    I just saw this today, and the mention of Julia Child took me back to the weekend’s dinner, which included (from VOL I) the soubise recipe from Veal Orloff page. Not that I’ve ever had Veal Orloff. But it’s the same recipe, except zucchini (salted and drained) instead of onions. This is a great thing, because the soubise was delicious, and I have a LARGE under-the-leaf zucchini that needs to be used (not all of it). This will be a good start.

  154. TreaclePie

    You had me at zucchini.

    I’m late to this recipe, and also the gratin party. This was my first, and I am hooked. I went for half measures (with the simplified method) and regretted it. I could happily eat the whole dish I made for my supper on my own. No question – light, savoury and moist. I subbed in grated mature cheddar (no lactose-free parmesan yet!) and added a good hit of peperaglio as I’m addicted. And wowsers. Just, thank you.

    1. Frankie

      Treaclepie, Have you tried parmesan lately? Many people who are lactose intolerant can digest natural aged hard cheeses like parmesan with minimal problems. My dr says it is virtually no residual lactose — and the rule of thumb is the harder the cheese, the lesser the lactose. So, you may be wasting your money on “lactose free” cheddar. Try a small batch natural raw milk cheddar and see if it works for you. A good cheese monger can steer you in the right direction.

  155. Lizzie

    I made this using the new instructions and the rice wasn’t cooked after 60 minutes in the oven and the end result was still soupy like others have mentioned. I think it might have been good if I gave it more time, it’s just already bakes for so long. Also, it stays very hot so after waiting a long time for it to bake, you can’t serve it for at least 10 minutes. Bummer.

  156. Sara

    Yay! I’m happy for the simplified version! My notes on the recipe from last year, say, “Good, but takes way too long. So maybe not worth it.” I’ll try this one and see what we think- our neighbors just gave the largest zucchini I’ve ever seen, so I need this is good recipe for it. Thanks!

  157. Kathe

    I made this with gold bar squash and yellow zucchini from my farm share. I used jasmine rice and whole milk, and more cheese than required. I used a mix of parmesan and also sharp cheddar from the farm share. I did not dot the gratin with butter because I figured it would be oily enough. I oiled a bread loaf pan and a glass pie plate and divided the gratin between them and it worked out just great. I did not remove seeds. I cooked the gratin on the top rack.

  158. Rachael

    I made this with the new instructions and it was delicious. Instead of having extra dishes to clean, I sautéed in my oval Le Creucet and added the zucchini back into it. Put the lid on (I’m not a big fan of tin foil) and after 50 min it was perfect. Skipped the last steps of increasing oven temp but I did drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle the last bit of Parmesan. Next time I will try 1/2 cup of pepper jack cheese. I used basmati rice. Thanks for another great veggie side my whole family loves.

  159. Lucy

    I made this yesterday using the simplified directions, but even after 1h10ish in the oven my rice was still completely uncooked…should i add more liquid? I did use basmati instead of regular long grain (because that’s all i had, but it said on the bag it would cook in 10min if you boiled it) & skimped a little on the sautéing rice with onion time (cos i was hungry and impatient to get it in the oven). Also my rice packet has been open for a while :$
    I kept it in the fridge overnight, so any advice on how to save the dish much appreciated! It tasted great apart from the crunchy rice. What if i cooked some rice separately in a pan and mixed it in before i add the cheese for the final browning?
    Thanks :)
    P.s. have been reading the site for a couple of years, and making things from it, but this is the first time something I’ve made from here has gone a bit wrong – love your recipes and writing style!

    1. Rachael

      I’m trying to brainstorm why some rice isn’t cooking. I used basmati too and 1/2 cup milk. I did sauté the rice as directed. Maybe foil lets too much moisture escape? The Le Cruiset with lid worked great. Cooked in 45 min.

  160. Joni

    Would love to make this, but I have no idea how much zucchini 2.5 lbs is and I have no kitchen scale. Any chance you can give it to us in cups? Thanks!

  161. Barbara

    I’m making this right now. I used the quick version and so far it’s been in the oven for over an hour and the rice still isn’t cooking. I used long grain rice and 1/2 cup of milk in the gratin. I sealed the dish with foil. Did I use the wrong rice? Will it ever cook?

    1. Barbara

      I realized 90 minutes in that the foil might be the problem. Even though I tried to make it tight, it needed a real lid. When I added the lid on top of the foil it cooked quickly. The end result was delicious! Next time I’ll use the lid from the start.

  162. Carol

    This was amazing! I followed the longer directions, and they were quite tedious, but worth it. I will try again using the more streamlined approach.