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.
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.
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.**
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.
* 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)
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.
521 comments on zucchini rice and cheese gratin
This is exactly what I want to eat RIGHT NOW! Looks amazing! Your rice gratin dishes make me so happy :)
Do you freeze before cooking or after? Directions for defrosting/cooking please.
I am making this right now! I divided it and plan to freeze one pan, but I wondered if you baked it first.
which way did you go on this and did it work? Making recipe today and dividing into two portions, don’t know whether on the “save” portion to bake it or freeze it first.
Praying someone has feedback! Made the updated version with no straining the zucs, just adding the 1/2 cup milk. Its been 50 minutes and the rice isn’t cooked and its very soupy and unappetizing. Ive turned the oven up to 350 for another 15 minutes but am a little frustrated. Anyone else experienced this and what can save it? Thanks!
I just made this for the second time and both times it took FOREVER to cook! 2 hours and 15 minutes! I love the taste but how can I make it faster?
I used the streamlined version, but put the shredded zucchini in the skillet with the rice/onion mixture, and heated it until the zucchini started to get soft. I then added the milk and flour and heated to boiling before putting it in the oven dish. It was done and yummy after only 45 minutes.
I made this with the simplified method and used 1/2 cup of milk as my liquid. Unimpressed- after 70 min ( in a 2 Qt Pyrex pan) it was still soupy and some of the rice was not cooked. This is one of the first recipes from Smitten Kitchen where I have not had a delicious result. Disappointed but moving on. Will not try again.
Made it & not soupy at all! Ensure zucchini is salted & drained ?
I’m having the same result. The zucchini looks completely uncooked, the rice is raw and it’s soupy after an hour at 325 degrees using the new, simplified directions. I’ve turned on convection and raised the temperature to 350. Every other recipe I have tried from Smitten Kitchen has been fantastic!
argh I gave up – rice never cooked even a little bit. I live at 5700ft altitude if that matters. So I’m eating cooked zucchini with random crunchy bits.
I’m trying. I felt recipe was unclear. I strained the zucs, and only added 3/4 c. Ish liquid. I’m using only a couple zucchini and 1/4 c. Rice. I parboiled as well. If I get soup or crunch on the rice, I’ll never make again!! Lol it does look delicious however.
I’m trying this, but it seems like a real crap shoot. It says drain to 2-1/2 c liquid, yet part of recipe says add it back in and the ingredients say only 1/2 c. Liquid. Confusing. Which is it??
I’m only using 1/4 c rice and less zucchini so I’m shooting for 3/4 c liquid, ish.
Thanks for posting, dish looks delish, but the recipe really needs some revamping.
I’m hopeful for no crunchy or soupy rice.
I did parboil the rice. -)
It worked! My rice is a bit overcooked, but that’s better than undercooked!!
I’d leave in oven for only 45 min. Next time. I drained the zucs that’s a big requirement I think! It’s good, good enough I keep sampling with a fork as I do the dishes! Lol
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?
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!
This sounds lovely. What did you serve with it?
Mazel Tov to you and your family! The new little one is so beautiful. All the best!
This would probably be amazing with whole grain spelt or kamut instead of white rice!
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.)
September is a great month, for a lot of reasons (mostly the weather). NYC is finally cooling down, and I am looking forward to more hot dishes in my life. This one will be happening soon!!
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.
Looks amazing! A great use for my mountains of zucchini! Question, do you think it would be ok with brown rice?
Love the blog!
I made it with brown rice and it was fine. Use the updated method with the longer cooking time. It might not of worked as well with the shorter time. Good luck.
Wow, that looks amazing. Glad my second planting of zucchinis are coming on because this.must.be.made!
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?
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.
And Dinner is SERVED!
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?
Do you freeze it before or after cooking? Looks great!
This looks absolutely amazing! I’ll be saving it in my recipe book and I can’t wait to try it!
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.
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…
I made this with brown basmati rice. I paroled the rice for 7 minutes and baked it longer
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?
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!)
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.
Looks wonderful, can’t wait to try it when the weather gets a little colder!
I don’t care for zucchini, but it seems like this would also be nice with broccoli.
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?
Any answers for this? I just got zucchinis in my CSA of various sizes and don’t have a way to weigh them…
Sorry, I didn’t check the cup level this time. Will do next time.
I came here with this same question. Found the answer here: https://www.almanac.com/content/measuring-vegetables-recipes-pounds-cups
Looks like 1 lb = 4 cups grated, 2 cups of grated, salted and drained.
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.
This looks so delicious! I need this in my life real soon!
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.
Bess – She has one with broccoli, too:)
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!
I was so surprised when the Instagram link opened up–RED! HAIR! Little Anna is so incredibly beautiful :)
love this! Perfect for fall – thanks!
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!
@carissa #25 – The “genius recipe” version on food52.com says 1 lb. zucchini = 2 cups shredded.
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).
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.
Nicole R. maybe you could sub nutritional yeast for the cheese? Deb?
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 ??
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.
a little short on zucchini. already have some cooked spaghetti squash. thoughts on combining the two? sacrilege?
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
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.
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!
Super, my husband just shrieked at the sight of the zucchini mountain I brought back from the market, must have been telepathy!
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.
I love the idea of cooking the rice in the zucchini liquid. When I need to use up a ton of zucchini I make this with Trader Joe’s harvest grains blend:
Looks so delicious Deb!! I love how you just throw uncooked rice in there. Genius!
Delicious (pre and) post freezing: http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2011/01/chard-and-white-bean-stew/
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.
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?
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?
No, it won’t. I’ve been grating what we call courgettes (green and yellow) into everything this summer. Pasta (just after the water and with the oil or butter); pasta sauces, rice, other veg. It’s almost the best way to use them up — especially if you have a glut, as I always have.
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?)…
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.
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?
For my favourite smitten freezer recipes, I second white bean and chard stew, and add your everyday yellow dal. I’ve frozen big batches of both many times, usually including some 2-cup jars ready for me to throw in my bag frozen for a last-minute packed lunch. They’ve saved me many times! http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2007/06/and-then-i-moved-into-the-refrigerator/
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!
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
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!
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….
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 :)
I made this tonight with risotto rice … yummy. Thanks!
Love the new(?) category, “Put An Egg On It”. Deb, you’re the best!
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.
Just made a batch for the freezer. One of my favourites to have on hand.. I froze them in prepackaged little four / five packs so I can pick them out, reheat and have an easy meal in no time.
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.
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.
What does “for the other side of the world mean” in reference to past recipes??
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.
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.
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).
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.
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!
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.
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.
I made this for lunch today. Let me just say that my belly is very much happy. SO delicious. It goes great with roasted chicken livers!
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.
Where can I find your list of freezable dishes?
Your recipes and clever writing are a joy to receive.
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?
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).
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?
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.
Many thanks for your kind response.
oh my gosh the red hair! so adorable! Also, I have zucchinis in my fridge right this minute – hooray!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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 :)
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?
Looks delish … need more non-meat dishes in my rotation!
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!
I would like to eat this now, please!
This looks delicious, might have to try cooking it tonight! I think I have some Zucchinis in my kitchen.
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.
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!
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?
Looks delicious! I have so much zucchini from my garden, I need to try this!
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!
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.
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!
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.
September is my favorite month but I always get a little anxious about winter near the end of it. I need some comfort food to get me through and this is exactly that!
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.
Your recipe for lentil, chard, and sausage stew freezes really nicely!
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
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.
Made this for Shabbos. It’s not pretty but it’s delicious. Great fall/winter warm you up dish.
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!
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!
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.)
what a great way to use up a ton of late season zucchini! the recipe worked perfectly for me and i will make it again…and again.
Antony Worral’s Chocolate Chip Cookies are amazingly freezer friendly, and the hero of every dinner party! Proven just yesterday. http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/chocolatechipcookies_72335
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.
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!
Am looking for new ways with zucchini so this is perfect to add to my family meals :)
Looks amazing! Think this could be made ahead and kept in the fridge for a day before cooking?
I have some cooled brown rice. Do I think I can use this and what should the proportions be?
Sorry, that would be “cooked brown rice.” Doh.
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.
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.
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!
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.
I have 2 zucchinis left in my garden and they are slated for THIS.
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.
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!!
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!
I made this on Friday night and it was delicious! Thanks so much for all of the great ideas. I love your website.
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!
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.
I cooked this over the weekend and it was delicious. I used brown rice, parboiling for 20 minutes instead of 5, and it turned out great.
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!
I regularly make and freeze some combination /variation of your two Chicken pot pie recipes: (http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2008/11/chicken-pot-pie/ and http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2014/10/better-chicken-pot-pies/). These freeze beautifully in individual ramekins and once frozen, they’re wrapped in foil and shared with my grown kids for those nights they don’t feel like cooking but need some good comfort food in one dish.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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?
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!
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!
Do you think you could sub ricotta for the Parmesan? We have some ricotta I want to use up, and this looks delicious.
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.)
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!
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.
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)
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!
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!
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!
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!
I made this yesterday and have to control myself to not inhale all of the leftovers!
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.
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.
This was so great! Even better one year old gobbled it up!
I d My parboil the rice and it was no problem.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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..?
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.
Hi there thank you for the recipe. Instead of rice could you use quinoa?
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.
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.
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.
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!
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?
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…
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!
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?
Anna — Absolutely.
Having this right now with lamb chops. Wow, this is so good!
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!
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!
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.
This is AMAZING! I’ve made it about 5 times in the last two weeks. Gobble it up in 2 days. Thanks!
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!
These look so good!
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!
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?
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).
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.
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!
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.
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!
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? ;)
Yes!!!! You are amazing!!!
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.
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.
Mine was soupy also. I plan to make it again and will use your suggestion of a cast iron skillet. Thanks.
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….
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 😘
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!
You absolutely can with any summer squash. I realize this is very annoying but in this comment I adjusted the recipe a few ways and totally forgot the flour and it was a non-issue. I think you can skip it. If you’re worried, just use a tablespoon or two of a gf flour blend.
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!!!
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 :)
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!
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 …
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.
I Love this Comment… :-) I’ve had days like that… at least you had a nice meal at the end!
OMG another Putnam who screws up recipes with laziness and too-small dishes?? Are you me from the future, trying to warn me against mistakes I’ll still insist on making in the present?
(PS if this is a double-post, my apologies – the internet/my old passwords hate me today.)
Wondering if you could use cauliflower “rice” in this…
I think it would be mush after 25 or longer baking with zucchini juices.
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?
Yes, but I might cut out the seeds if they’re large, as written.
Any other grains you would sub for rice?
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.
Do you think quinoa could be substituted for rice?
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.
I really like the frozen organic brown rice from Trader Joe’s. It’s quick, tasty, brown-but-not-too-brown. Would there be a way of using this product in this recipe?
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.
Can you make this ahead and cook at a later date?
Absolutely. You could have it wrapped in fridge ready to bake; it also reheats well.
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?
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.
I have a rotisserie chicken to use up. Would adding some shredded chicken to this dish be any good?
It’s not my thing but if you like chicken with rice and zucchini, absolutely.
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!
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!
Can you make this with less zucchini and basmati rice? I only have 1.5 lbs of zucchini on hand.
Does basmati need less liquid or do you mean to scale both ingredients down? If so, just do so proportionally and it should all work out.
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!
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!!
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!
I don’t see flour mentioned in the new, simplified directions?
I mentioned in the headnotes that I found you could skip it without a problem. (Read: I kept forgetting it and it didn’t matter.)
Would brown rice work instead of white rice?
Yes, but you’ll want to give it a lot more baking time.
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! :)
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.
When you heat up the frozen one, any suggestions for temperature and how long? Thaw in fridge for a day first? Or ok right out of the freezer?
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!
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.
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.”
Not a typo; fully uncooked rice is usually baked at much lower temperatures. Ovens can vary, though. You might try starting at 350 though next time.
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!!
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.
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.
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.
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.
I made this tonight, following the “updated” instructions, and served it with some large grilled prawns. I followed the recipe exactly, (rare for me, as I usually make tweaks and add more seasoning) and baked it in a heavy glass 9×13 dish for 69 minutes. Wow! I was amazed at how delicious it was…I could not stop eating it. It was absolutely fabulous, and so easy to make. Mine was not soupy, as others have complained about. I will definitely make this again and again.
Could I add some beans or lentils to this, do you think? I’d like to use it as an main dish.
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!
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.
* skim milk, not whole
P.S. the rice was still a little crunchy but oh well
I made this tonight, and it was ridiculously good! Next time I will try adding lemon zest.
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.
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?
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!
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.
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!
I didn’t measure it in cups this time, apologies.
2.5 pounds is about 6-8 med size zucchini. If you are a cup over or under, it doesn’t really matter with this recipe
6-8 medium zucchini is more than 2.5 lbs. maybe your medium is smaller? I weighed mine and I had 4 medium and it was just 2.5 lbs
Just in case anyone is ever looking for this answer in the future – 2.5 lbs of zucchini, shredded, was 6 packed cups for me today.
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?
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.
I fried up leftovers in a pan the next morning with an egg on top. Delicious!
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.
Made tonight according to the simplified directions and it was delicious. Used milk, skipped the flour and had no problem with soupiness. We had Chicken Piccata with this and I wound up drizzling some of the sauce over the zucchini on my plate which was amazing. We’ll be making this one again. :)
I did the simplified recipe, using stock, and this was delicious. I did sprinkle about a tablespoon of flour on the onion/rice mixture. It took 75 minutes (probably because I took it from the fridge) with the foil on and then another 10 without the foil on. Big hit!
I made this recipe for my newly babied sister and then for myself this summer. We both loved it so much. Today is the day I’m trying to defrost it for my dinner in late fall that feels like late summer. Do you have tips on reheating this particular dish without drying the rice? I plan on foiling the top…
Foil the top, get it warm then remove the foil and crank the heat just to get a renewed crisp on top.
I want to make this and put it in the freezer to use at Christmas. Do I freeze the dish before I bake it?
Looks wonderful! I’m so tempted by this even though I try not to eat white rice. I’m curious if it would work with quinoa. If anyone has tried that please comment!
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.
I made this with the simplified directions. Had less zucchini on hand than I’d estimated, so had to make a half recipe. Accidentally forgot to halve the liquid (used ½ cup whole milk) and added a little extra parmesan cheese. Baked covered for 50 minutes in my Lodge enameled gratin dish and uncovered 10 minutes before a quick broil. Turned out great and reheated well on the stovetop!
In your opinion, what is the best size oval gratin baking dish to get for your recipes? Would a 9-1/2″ suffice for the servings, or should I get a 14″.
I made this last night with the streamlined directions, in a disposable 9×12 pan. The first cooking step took 60 minutes, even in my tiny, finicky oven, and the second took 11. It was delicious, and/but…
I currently can’t eat garlic, so I made it without, and I’m wondering if anyone has suggestions for added spices to give it a little more oomph? Along with adding extra spices to make up for the garlic, I’ll probably use a little less oil next time.
How about some tomato paste (or anchovy) sautéed with the onions? Along the same the same lines, a bit of Worcestershire sauce? Or I think some lemon zest would be grand.
I’ve made this several times – the first few times using the “old” method and the last the “updated” directions. All have turned out splendidly, but I think I like the texture best when the zucchini is salted. My opinion could be skewed by the fact that I used shredded Costco parmesan that had been lurking in the back of the fridge in the last rendition. Poor choice. Use freshly graded parm (or swiss, as other’s have mentioned) unless there’s no other option!
Thanks Deb, another fabulous recipe. This(simplified version) was so easy and simple, yet made a surprisingly complex dish. I did cheat and used a dry sherry I love instead of the milk or broth–it worked very well. I also mixed the sherry soaked zuchinni into the saute pan with the onions and cooked together a couple minutes to let the flavors start to blend and the rice start to soften. I sprinkled the 2 Tbls flour and mixed in the 2/3 cup Parmesan right at the end of the saute (the simplified directions did not mention using the flour but it seemed like a good idea). I also sprinkled some panko on top of each filled baking dish before covering with foil and baking. I don’t think these changes added much labor, but they. Did seem to add some complexity. It was such a hit, we enjoyed it as a main course for two nights (and we are not even vegetarians!). I probably would never have attempted the original recipe–looked great, but so time consuming. Your simplified version, however seemed, and was PErFECt for an easy healthy meal.
I made this last night. It was easy enough, and smelled great in the oven. The only problem is that we thought it was bland. It needs more of something, which potentially could affect that “easy enough” assessment. I doubt I will repeat it (but I will certainly eat the leftovers!).
I hear you. I pimped the recipe the second time to give it more oomf and suit my palate more. Being an Italian tomato addict that included a bit of oregano and home roasted cherry tomatoes. Another time it was using pepperaglio, the italian garlic, chilli, parsley spice mix my Dad brings me back from Naples. I think it’s a good base to riff on and my veggie friends were glad of a new meal I could feed them when they visit
Just a thought, you could add the liquid to the rice when you are sautéing it in the onion….this will start the cooking process like a risotto.
Loved this, so simple and uncomplicated. I added some thyme and some crushed red pepper. A new go-to.
Didn’t read the recipe carefully. Preheated oven to 450. Grated zucchini with a box grater on the coarse side. Put all the ingredients except cheese in a deep, round casserole. Didn’t butter casserole dish. I put a half stick of butter in with the ingredients and did not pre-cook anything. I did use the optional floor. Stirred in 1 cup of cheese after taking out of microwave and sprinkled extra cheese on the top. Cooked on high in the microwave for 15 minutes and then put into the preheated oven. Baked uncovered at 450 for 45 minutes with foil covering the top the last 15 minutes. Tasty, forgiving and a great way to use up extra zucchini in the south. Can always count on your recipes to be good.
I made this both ways and I must say I much prefer the original method of removing the liquid first. I don’t know why it is better, but it is. Plus, the shorter oven time in the original recipe is preferable as well.
I’ve made this the original way a few times and am excited to try the stream-lined version. Just wanted to note that I’ve never halved/scooped out large seeds and it’s been fine, and always saute the onion and garlic in an oven-safe high-sided/casserole pan which I then stir everything into and put in the oven. This would be especially handy with the updated version because then you can just use a lid instead of foil. Hooray for fewer dishes!
I’ve made this dish many times and decided to try the streamlined version today. It’s just not the same. When you salt and leave the zucchini in the colander, reserving the liquid, it is MUCH easier to determine if the salt at a suitable quantity. Made the streamlined way, you are basically testing uncooked, salted rice with raw zucchini. Crunchy! The newer way was still too liquidy (perhaps I didn’t need the half cup of liquid after all) despite my leaving it in the oven for FOREVER. What an awesome chef you are to try to accommodate everyone’s thoughts on the dish and to create an easier method! But I say if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I’ll stick with the original way!
I made this tonight- using the “new simplified instructions”. In my case, the extra 1/2 cup liquid was not at all necessary. I left it out by accident, and I don’t know if my zucchini are simply jucier, but no extra liquid was needed. I added a handful of various chopped herbs to my zucchini mixture. Oregano, basil, parsley and mint. I also made a homemade buttered breadcrumb topping that added a nice contrast to texture and a yummy buttery flavor. I substituted butter for oil in the sauté. 50-60 minutes was not enough time to cook the rice- at least not in my oven. This was very delicious, the texture is a bit on the mushy side, but the flavors were really good. Yum!
One question. Should I freeze before or after cooking. Got a ton of squash and before I start on breads, etc. I want to get some of this tucked away.
I did make this all Julia Child many moons ago. Looking forward to utilizing your shortcuts and thanks!!
I think you could freeze either!
Thanks!! Baked two small casseroles already and they smell outstanding. Can’t wait for dinner tonight!!!!!
I’m making this again (typing as it bakes) because I’ve been craving it ever since trying it the first time. My husband who is NOT a zucchini fan says it’s the tastiest version of this veg he’s ever eaten.
I made the simplified version (#notsorry). After reading other feedback about basmati, I decided to use arborio rice as the instructions reminded me of beginning a risotto. The first time I had less zucchini than called for, so I scaled down the amount of rice and included an equivalent amount of liquid. Worked perfectly!
Definitely one of the best gratins I’ve ever had not to mention an outstanding way to use up zucchini and summer squash. Will definitely try it arborio rice. I do have asome frozen for back up. ☺️
Made this last night using the new simplified directions. I prepared exactly as written using a 1/2 cup of milk. The only thing I added was a panko/parm topping for the last 15 mins of cooking. I did have to cook longer than indicated– about 1.5 hours total and I recommend using a tight fitting lid to cover it as the foil wasn’t tight enough. My husband who is not a fan of zucchini keeps raving about how delicious it. I reheated it today for lunch and had it with a crispy fried egg on top. Yum!
I made this last night, took a bite and thought it a bit bland. I took some leftover for lunch today and oh my goodness, it is amazing. I used brown rice, and added some corn that I needed to use up. I was sure I was messing it up too. I didn’t read the two separate directions correctly and ended up draining the zucchini (in the sink!) but not parboiling the rice so then I had to guess how much liquid I needed to add back in. I hope the kids like it so I can make it again.
I haven’t read all the replies so this may have been covered already, but *instant* (not regular) brown rice works well, too. Just saute as directed for the white rice.
does anyone know if you can use zoodles for this to cut down on prep time? Thanks!
I made this for dinner last night and it was delicious! I wish I had prepped it before coming home, because it took a little longer to get everything ready but it was totally worth the effort! I used primarily yellow squash (grocery purchasing mix-up) and I think the squash combo was good! It took a while in the oven, but I knew that going in. Thanks for a good recipe!
I wonder if this recipe would work with leftover, cooked brown rice? Then you can use raw zucchini in the gratin, but you don’t have to wait for the liquid to be released to cook the rice (theoretically shorter cooking time). Also leftover brown rice is pretty forgiving as it’s already got a bit of “bite” to it so I’m sure it can absorb some of that leftover liquid too.
Will try it out and report back!
Let us know how it goes. I’m a little worried you’ll have too much liquid, since so much comes out of the zucchini…
Made this tonight (using the simple method with broth) and it turned out great! I used a little more cheese (just to use it all up): mostly sharp cheddar with a little parmesan thrown in. I sauteed the uncooked rice for a few minutes longer than indicated and added the flour about 10 mins after it first went into the oven because I completely forgot. I sauteed and baked the whole thing in a 12 inch cast iron; it was a little hard to scrub out because of the stuck-on cheese but it was one less thing to wash. Had to salt and pepper generously, and added a couple of pinches of red pepper flakes. Served with a small arugula and tomato salad on the side to help balance the richness. Totally doable on a weeknight but it helps to have two pairs of hands for grating and chopping.
I’ve made this before (without garlic, with fresh herbs instead) and love it. To streamline even more, thoughts on frying the onions in a big stainless steel saute pan and baking everything in the pan (after mixing in a separate bowl and wiping out/buttering the pan)?
I think it would work just fine, and think I do that here (in that oval cast iron gratin which is fine for the stovetop).
The flour isn’t referenced anywhere in the simplified directions.
It’s listed as “optional,” and in the blurb above the ingredients she says you don’t need it. In the longer directions Deb sprinkles it on after cooking the zucchini. I’ve done it both ways and using the flour doesn’t seem to add anything.
I’ve made this a few times the original way, and loved it. A friend said it was the first time he’d ever eaten zucchini and liked it.
I just saw the streamlined version today and decided to give it a try. I liked not having to salt the zucchini, but it took well over an hour to get the rice to “mostly cooked.” I had 2.75 lbs of zucchini, so there shouldn’t have been any shortage of liquid. Still tasted fantastic!
But even having salted generously, I didn’t quite make it to the seasoning level of the original, and ultimately I prefer the way the salted/drained zucchini bakes into a tight casserole with a nice golden top. Since the streamlined method took longer, I think we’ll stick with the original.
I made the simplified recipe last night and put it in the fridge, and then baked and served it tonight. It worked out great, except that it’s a little confusing that the ingredients list has not been updated for the simplified, so I added the 2.5 teaspoons of salt which I see now was actually intended for salting/draining the zucchini, so the final dish was pretty salty. Totally my fault, but for those of us who are in a hurry, it might be helpful to provide an updated ingredient list ahead of the simplified directions.
In hot weather, when using the oven is disagreeable, I found that it’s possible to make this another way.
I cooked the oil-onion-garlic-rice mixture in a covered frying pan, steamed the salted, drained courgettes in the microwave (which takes only 4 minutes), then combined them for the final browning stage in the hot oven.
When you freeze this, do you bake it first or do you freeze unbaked? Thanks!
I made this last night for company and found the leftovers today to be tastier. It’s a touch mushy with the streamlined directions. I used bacon fat instead of butter, and found I could have skipped the extra fat on top. Next time I’ll add in some sharp cheddar too because I expect gratin to be cheesier. The 4 of us ate about 80% of the dish so portion generously.
I make this recipe (the streamlined version) every summer — just made it with an enormous summer squash our neighbour gave us, doubling the recipe with no issue at all — and it’s delicious ! I always under estimate prep time because we don’t have a food processor, but even if we eat later than initially planned it’s always a hit, everyone loves it !
I made this tonight with my abundance of Golden Glory zucchini, using the new instructions, a half cup of milk, and 2 T flour, which I just added to the whole bowl of ingredients. I also threw in about a half cup of grated cheddar because I needed to get rid of it. Baked covered 1 hour, added crumbs and parm , then baked at 425 for 12 minuets. It was perfect! Really great! The texture is amazing, like a zucchini arancini. I think I can cut it in squares, lightly fry it, add a fried egg and do weekend brunch. Another winner!
Thank you for this recipe. I have beautiful zucchini and am mulling over recipes. Your simplified version looks interesting. I am going to make it my Sunday afternoon bake.
Hey! I am in the process of making this now and have noticed a) my cook time has crept up significantly over 60 minutes using plain white rice and, b) this could be because the simplified recipe lists a cook temp 100F lower than the original. Is this a publishing error?
No, it is intentional. The original recipe uses almost fully cooked ingredients, so it blasts them higher to finish and brown it. Here, we need to fully cook the rice, and a lower temperature is better. Try bumping it up to 350 or 375 (or start at 350 next time, as this is a late response) and see if it works better for you.
I added 1.5lbs of shredded chicken breast (cooked in IP) to this before baking, it was perfect! I used slightly more than half a cup of liquid out of fear that the chicken would soak up too much and it was outstanding.
Stumbled across this recipe and wondering hmmmm can this be done with cauliflower rice? Always cutting carbs! Do you think its possible? If so, would anything need to be tweaked?
I wouldn’t use it here. This works because the excess liquid from the zucchini is absorbed by and cooks the rice, which wouldn’t happen with cauliflower. There’s probably a tweak that would work — wringing out the zucchini before adding it, baking them together — it would be closer to the original recipe.
So! You have three zucchini gratin recipes on your site and I took elements from all three and it turned out delicious! I followed your original recipe here, but when I stirred in the rice and cheese, I also put in fresh parsley, thyme, marjoram, and lemon juice (from your summer squash gratin with salsa verde recipe). And then, when I assembled the dish, I put sliced plum tomato on top to roast in the oven (ala your zucchini, tomato and rice gratin). So good! I also crumbled a piece of bacon onto each serving (because bacon) but the gratin on its own was substantial and yummy!
I made this the old-school way but needed to double the recipe for a large dinner party (and doubling worked fine, but was a fair amount of work squeezing out the MANY handfuls of 5# worth of zucchini). I sautéed the onions et al in a large cast iron skillet, then baked the whole thing in that skillet. I made it a few hours in advance but then heated up the zucchini juice in the microwave before pouring into the skillet (I’d goofed up and already added the parboiled rice) then popping it into the oven. It baked for 60 min, then traveled to the dinner party to finish in the host’s oven under the broiler. It LOOKED beautiful and people raved about it, but honestly I just thought it was…good. Maybe I prefer a cheesier, more guilt-inducing gratin? I DID like the rice in it, but it was a lot of work for what I found to be an average dish.
I love Deb’s recipes, and am letting Julia take the hit for this one…
I made this using Whole Foods ten minute brown rice, homemade chicken stock, and followed the updated instructions including the cooking time. Glorious. My toddler ate a ton!
Dill would be a nice addition but I’m hesitant to mess with the toddler love.
I love that the Instagram account is highlighting old recipes I’ve missed. Just found this and it was great—I did the quick version with a bit of broccoli instead of zucchini because the garden surplus ended up only being about 700g. I kind of estimated the difference in broccoli, steamed it until it was bright but not very long, chopped small, and put it in with everything else. I think the flavour was nice actually and maybe a bit more healthy than just zucchini alone.
I have quick-cook rice. The directions on the box of rice say to cook it only for 8 minutes and then let it stand for 15 minutes, but I’ve in the past cooked it for 8 minutes and then immediately eaten it and didn’t notice anything wrong with it.
How should I adjust the cooking time of this do you think?
I’m not sure because this is formulated to need an amount of liquid for uncooked rice, and yours will need less, but I don’t know how much less.
This was delicious. I had a giant zucchini not sure of size. Only complaint was a little salty but that may have been my error
Do you have any advice on how to “instant-pot-ize” this? I put mine in the oven (using the easier method) and thought “oh man, now I have to wait another hour??” and it’s starting to smell delicious so I think I want to make it more often than I would if it takes 90 minutes. The method also struck me as very similar to instant pot risotto and I have an idea of how to get crispy edges (thank you Melissa Clark!) so I might give it a try. I just have no idea where to start with cooking times and liquid amounts!
I was wondering about the same thing. This seems like a perfect instant pot recipe, especially if you did pot in pot method. Although you may need to take out and broil at the end to crisp. If you take a stab at it, let me know.
SasaQQ fery good
what the fery good?
How is it that just anyone can publish a blog and get as popular as this? Its not like youve said something incredibly impressive –more like youve painted a quite picture above an issue that you know nothing about! I dont want to sound mean, right here. But do you definitely think that you can get away with adding some quite pictures and not really say anything?
I think this is an interesting perspective – to me, the site is not just about sharing recipes that have been riffed in the real world from cookbooks, but also sharing recipes that we might have ignored or set aside as ‘too difficult/fussy’ and creating a community of people who will share their experiences (successes and failures) and ask questions and break down any feelings of ‘I can’t cook’ that might discourage people from trying.
I don’t think Deb or any other food blogger I’ve seen purports to be an expert or a professional chef we should flock to for ‘The Word’ on cooking. Those are the people who write the canonical, classical cookbooks, like Julia Child.
I for one found the transparency of the journey from
“Wow, thanks for the tip, this is great, overcome your prejudices about gratins!” to
“Come cook and eat it too, here’s the recipe as written and my experience in making it” to
“Hey, thanks community, you asked questions and I have done the legwork to test out the ideas and can confirm what works and what doesn’t”
As a result, I discovered a new favourite recipe and have shared it with many people, and adapted it to my own tastes too. Even though my father is a chef, I wasn’t instilled with a natural confidence in the kitchen, and Smitten Kitchen, over the last decade or so has helped me find inspiration and not allow perfectionism to hamper my efforts. It sounds like you might be a more confident cook, or be seeking something a little different from the site. I suppose if people are coming her via encountering her own cookbooks, this might site belie her newfound ‘celeb cook’ status by opening up the journey she has been on.
Either way, I do encourage you to try the recipe, it’s rather lush. I like adding oregano or a peperoncino mix of herbs and spices and use a lactose-free cheese due to tummy issues. It has spawned a number of other rice based gratins too!
I made this with the original method with some modifications that did not pan out :'(
I didn’t find the original directions too fussy. I just started draining an hour before I wanted to finish the rest of the process and that gave it adequate time to release the 2.5 cups of liquids. It came together pretty quickly after that.
I prefer the nutty flavor and toothsome texture of brown rice so I used that instead of white and parboiled it a couple minutes longer than indicated.
I used more like 70 grams of the cheese.
At 30 minutes, it was still soupy and rice uncooked. I cooked it about 40 minutes longer and the liquid got absorbed but the rice was still very crunchy.
I hoped maybe it would come together overnight but no such luck and it was waaaaaay too salty. Mighve been partially due to the extra cheese? The zucchini wasn’t too salty after draining.
Anyway, Id like to try this again and maybe parboil the brown rice for a much longer while and keep the cheese level as indicated in the recipe and cut out some additional salt.
I’ll try salvaging it by microwaving the sh*t out of individual servings to soften the rice and serve it atop a huge heap of cooked greens to address the saltiness :)
I made the same mistake as others, thinking the 2.5 T of salt applied to the simplified version too. Oh well. Would be great if you could put a note in the ingredient list that the quantity only applies to the original instructions.
I am usually a die-hard smitten kitchen fan, but I have to say this recipe (simplified instructions) was a miss. It ended up quite mushy and just overall, uninteresting.
I made the dish. I noticed there was some rice that was crunchy. I might parboil the rice next time. It was delicious.
i like SemogaQQ
no comen..it’s very good
neroqq like the idea
Recipes are just a starting point for me so dont be upset that i changed the recipe.
I didnt salt the zucchini. I shredded it and put in large bowl. I sauteed onion til soft added garlic sauteed for a minute. Added rice and lightly browned it. Emptied all into bowl of zucchini. Browned one lb saussage put in bowl rough chop can of mushrooms added to bowl scrambled 2 eggs [cooked eggs like for fried rice) added to bowl. Added salt pepper 1/2 cup water chicken base mixed parm cheese and mozz cheese and mixed all ingredients in bowl. Poured into oven dish and baked as directed. Removed from oven raised temp as instructed. Sprinkled top with the cheeses and bread crumbs. Baked til lightly browned. I was very pleased with the finished dish
I’m with you on September. I was in Michigan on 9/11, but it was truly the most beautiful blue sky that day, and one of my strongest memories of that day. Both of my kids were born in September, and both times, I arrived at the hospital on a hot sunny day, and left on a much chillier one. And this dish sounds delicious!
What adaptations would be needed to make this with brown rice? Parboil the rice? Add more water and cook longer?
It works but you’ll want to give it a lot more baking time. Use the water amount recommended for the rice you’re using.
Hello what would be the diffwrence if you used brown rice….thank u
It works but you’ll want to give it a lot more baking time.
If freezing, do you cook completely as per instructions and then freeze? Or is there anything special to be done if you plan to freeze directly?
I have a giant cheerleader pyramid of zucchini just begging to be turned into this dish! Thanks!
Hey. Can I use sushi rice here? That’s all I have in the larder at the moment. Thanks
I haven’t. I think it could work; it might need a little more water and definitely more baking time, but should otherwise have potential to work.
i followed the directions for the simplified version except using pattypan squash instead of zucchini. after taking out the dish after the 1 hour mark, the rice was very uncooked and crunchy. i cooked it at a higher temperature for around 20 to 30 minutes until the rice was cooked.
the end dish had great flavor, but the cooking time needs to be adjusted.
Can I make this with riced cauliflower and omit the flour?
It’s not going to work here. You could probably make a rice cauliflower and zucchini casserole but you’d want no flour, no water, and you’d have to wring the zucchini first. And the cauliflower might just taste mushy.
So, could you make this with cauliflower rice instead?
See my previous reply (right above here).
After having made this dish more times than I can count and having read Deb’s take on adapting recipes (see the black pepper tofu and eggplant post) I decided it’s time to finally comment on two things with this recipe:
1. We just LOVE this dish
2. I changed a few things with the ingredients and the procedure and maybe those might come in handy for someone else
Since I make this recipe from memory I haven’t seen the more streamlined directions until just now. My own approach is something between the original and the new streamlined directions and goes like this.
1. Grate zucchini (I use anywhere between 1.2-1.5 kg) and in a big bowl mix with 2 tsp fine sea salt. Let sit while you prepare the rest of the dish.
2. Grate cheese and put aside. I use about 240g / 8.5oz of gruyere (what can I say, I live in Switzerland where gruyere is produced…)
3. Fry the onions on medium heat in a cast iron pan until soft and translucent. I use butter instead of olive oil. Add the chopped garlic and fry for a minute, then add the uncooked rice. I use risotto rice because I don’t usually have regular white rice around.
4. Assembly of the dish is where my approach probably differs the most. I create a layered casserole because I don’t want to mix the rice with the rest of the ingredients. So I add about a third of the zucchini to the pan and DON’T MIX it with the rice. This in my opinion is a crucial step to avoid undercooked rice in the final dish. The liquid of the zucchini will go to the bottom of the pan and since the rice is what soaks up this liquid it should be at the bottom as well. Then I add about a third of the grated cheese and repeat these layers two more times. Finally I add all of the liquid that the zucchini released, which I never measure 😳. I skip the flour and the milk (unless the amount of zucchini water is unusually low based purely on a visual impression).
5. Cover the pan with a lid and bake at 325F/165C for about 50min. I usually skip the cheese browning step because I’m too impatient to wait any longer to eat.
Having read a number of the comments the two issues that seem to come up most are a) undercooked rice and b) not enough flavor. I never had any of those issues with my approach, in fact the dish is deeply flavorful (yes, the generous amount of cheese certainly helps). Other than the long oven time this dish comes together relatively quickly and is a very satisfying meal that we enjoy every time.
As a southerner, I have had my fair share of “summer squash casserole”. Generally laden with cream-of-something soups and topped with store bought stuffing, it is not exactly what you want to eat when it feels like 105 every day. Come August, zucchini are some of the only good looking local produce that hasn’t yet succumbed to the long stretches of heat and alternating torrential downpours that make vegetable gardening an exercise in masochism. This gratin was a revelation! Leave it to the French and Julia to craft such simple ingredient alchemy. I made the modified version (it’s too hot to do any extra steps!) and it could not have been easier or turned out more delicious. I could seriously eat the pan on its own for dinner! The flavors are sophisticated yet comforting. The rice isn’t heavy and the cheese doesn’t overwhelm. I will make this forever. THANK YOU!
Made this a couple of nights ago and we all loved it! Easy Peezy with a food processor for the zucchini. I used a wild rice blend for extra Texture and taste, so I used the simple recipe but did cook the rice approximately half done, and it was perfect once baked. I am tempted to throw in two or three beaten eggs next time to see if I can make it more of a soufflé-like texture. Do you think that would work, Deb, and thanks for another great recipe!
I made this a few nights ago using one giant, overgrown, arm-sized garden zucchini (seeded), and it was delicious!
I used the simplified directions with no draining or wringing of the zucchini at all.
Because I had so much zucchini (so much!) I used a full cup of uncooked white rice and extra parm. Perhaps because of the excessive zucchini and extra rice, the rice wasn’t cooked after an hour of baking, so I added an additional 1/2 cup milk and covered and cooked for another 20-30 minutes or so at 350 degrees. (I’m also at nearly 6,000 ft above sea level, which throws off rice and pasta).
This makes an excellent, hearty side dish. I liked the suggestion of crumbling some sausage in with the cooking onion to convert it into an even heartier main dish.
Thanks for the recipe!
I agree Margo – it’s confusing that the ingredients list still lists 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 t. salt and doesn’t specify that this is only for the original version. I searched the updated, simplified recipe instructions for any other references to salt, and since there weren’t any, I concluded that “season generously with salt” must refer to the quantity listed in the ingredients. I had erred low, and it was still delicious, but it might help future readers if you clarified that this is a version-specific item.
And in every other way the recipe was perfect. Recommended! Thanks, Deb.
cocaqq thanks for look cook .and amazing
I made this yesterday using the instructions as originally published. It was excellent. To turn this into a main meal instead of a side dish, I added cauliflower rice and also a couple of cups of navy beans (clean out the refrigerator) and separated into 2 dishes (1 for now / 1 to freeze). Each dish made 2 satisfying servings. It was a hit!
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You can make this even simpler by just throwing everything into a food processor. Pulse to dice and mix. Then put it in the casserole and bake as directed. Delicious! And useful as a base for lots of other great vegetable tians. Thanks so much for bringing it into the 21st century.
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I made this for years based from a recipe in a vegetarian cookbook. I was thrilled at the short cuts because all the salting and draining took more time than now we know to be necessary. However, my rice was a bit crunchy so I probably needed a bit more liquid. I love this recipe for its good any time of the year, bringing a taste of summer into the middle of winter. Oven temps can be varied depending on what else is cooking. The original Julia Child recipe has a method to grate then freeze the zucchini for times when there is a super bountiful crop, as summer certainly has.
Wow! I read this was a can’t-miss recipe and it definitely is. I love your simplified version, Deb. Hurrah!
Is the optional flour used in the new version? I don’t see where….
I made the simple version with broth and it’s SO good. I can’t stop eating it.
I made this recipe for the second time today. This time I reduced the oil, eliminated the butter, and used parchment paper in my pie plate. I left all the proportions the same except reduced the zucchini by a cup or so, since that’s all I had. I deglazed the onion mixture with a tablespoon of Marsala, and used cheddar cheese ( again what I had ) and added a teaspoon of smoked paprika. Delicious, and I love the versatility of the basic concept. Thanks Deb!
This Zucchini Rice is the Bomb! I made it and your Turkey Meatloaf for a friend recoveing from Knee surgery. She and her 100-year-old dad licked their plates clean. It being Summer and the dad having so few teeth, I also made them a drinkable salad, Gazpacho.
Confession: I subbed BROWN rice after microwaving it 10 minutes before adding to the onion mixture on the stove. Also, most of my parmesan had disappeared, so I subbed in cream cheese, which I added to the milk and microwaved untill warm enough to wisk together. These changes might invalidate my review, but the ingredients and flavors and inspiration all came from you. So thank you!!!!
And, yes I agree with the person who suggested whole grains, like wheat berries or farro. I would defitely like it that way. Though all that texture would not work for very little ones or very old ones, like my friend’s dad.
Hi Deb! So the instructions say to preheat oven to 325F; after an hour of cooking and finding raw zucchini and rice in my casserole dish, I went back and read again… In the instructions for baking right before serving, I saw the oven temp is listed at 425F. I just adjusted the temp and figure I can save it, but wanted to give you a heads up. Just made your zucchini bread earlier today and it was so good!!
Thanks for the heads up, Stef!!
Would this work with cauliflower rice?
Not as written. The liquid from the zucchini cooks the rice; it would turn cauliflower rice to mush.
I have wild rice, should I parboil or bake for longer or add more water??
Please tell me what zucchini adds to this dish besides bulk since it has been my experience that it has no actual taste. Someone convince me I am doing this vegetable a disservice.
Can you swap in brown rice? If so, would you recommend the parboil, or just bake 20 minutes longer (ish)?
Here are some comments from people who have made this with brown rice:
I haven’t tried it. The liquid from the zucchini cooks the rice, so I’m not sure you need to par-boil but it will take longer to bake from raw.
Thanks, I’ll give it a try and see what happens.
Cannot wait to make this!!
Could I substitute brown rice?
Here are some comments from people who have made this with brown rice:
I haven’t tried it. The liquid from the zucchini cooks the rice, but it will take longer to bake from raw.
Can you make this with brown rice?
This was GREAT. I used the updated instructions, without flour. Instead of a 1/2 cup of milk I added 3/4 cup white wine. I added a tsp of dried thyme and of piment d’espelette to the onions. I baked it for 75 minutes covered and 20 minutes covered. I added some grated emmenthal to the rice mix and to the top (with the respective amounts of Parmesan each time) but honestly it didn’t add anything and I wouldn’t do it again. Despite only being a 1/2 cup of dry rice this easily makes 6 main servings or 8 side servings. Most importantly: it was DELICIOUS!
Hi! I think the answer is no but can you freeze this? Thanks!
I definitely think you can
Saw this on your instagram and made it the same night. While it had awesome flavor and potential, it wasn’t even close to being cooked after 50 minutes (I did the new shortcut recipe). I cranked the oven up to the 425 but kept the tin foil on the dish and it took another probably 20 minutes or so to cook. I am not sure what I did wrong. I went back over the recipe step by step. We loved the flavor, so I am thinking of trying it again but this time making it earlier in the day and letting it sit before baking. Do you think that may help or make a mush of an end product???
Made this using the simplified directions. Flavor was great, but was very soupy and took much longer for the rice to be cooked (close to 1 hour 20 minutes), before finally upping the temp to 425.
This is a great recipe. I loved the taste!!! But i think you made a mistake in the simple version (which is what i used). I baked for an hour at 325 and it wasn’t done. The rice wasn’t cooked. I turned the oven to 425,which is what the original recipe said to use and the casserole started bubbling and cooked the rice. Maybe a typo?
I made the simplified version by baking at 425 and the timing was as advertised in the recipe. So I’m guessing it was a typo.
Delicious! I used the modified recipe. I accidentally used jasmine rice so it took a long time (30 minute extra!) but it was worth the wait. I will definitely be making this again with my abundance of summer zucchini.
This was really good…I added three cloves of garlic and some thyme as I thought it would probably need something other than S&P. I also, like someone else mentioned, sauteed some panko in butter and olive oil and then once cooled, added the extra Parmesan before sprinkling to the top of the casserole. I liked the added crunch that came with the panko. I used jasmine rice and a half skim and half heavy cream (total 1/2cup) for the liquid. Came out perfectly. For leftovers, I added some diced up rotisserie chicken to make a zucchini gratin bowl.
So, I have made this recipe twice, once with the “new” streamlined directions, and once with the original. Both times, I have had crispy, uncooked rice after much longer than the suggested cooking times. I did not par cook the rice, and used brown rice. What am I doing wrong? I baked it uncovered, my liquid was all absorbed. I LOVE the flavor of this dish and want to get it right!
I retract my question. I read comments and it looks like there are some tweaks I can make. It also looks like the questions specific to brown rice have been patiently answered multiple times. Thank you!
I think brown rice might need even longer — and if it’s dry, it needed more liquid, too.
For anyone else in a similar situation, I made this in a 4 quart lidded Dutch oven since I don’t use tin foil and didn’t have another oven-safe dish with a lid. I also only used 2lbs of zucchini and added an extra 1/4 c of liquid to make up for it. Otherwise I followed the directions exactly; cooked 60 minutes with lid, then 15 minutes with lid off, then a couple minutes under the broiler. Really tasty but still a little wet. Could’ve gone another 10-15 minutes with the lid on or I could’ve added less water. I think the reduced surface area of the dish I used was the deciding factor so heads up for anyone else!
Loved this, it is wonderful tasting and as I’m sure many people have discovered EXTREMELY forgiving and easy to change up! We have a few onion/garlic allergies, so I didn’t try it as is, I’m SURE it would be amazing the original way! However in avoiding those I came across a really quick (hands on time wise, which is what I lack, not total time) and even easier version which I thought was worth mentioning because it was still very very good and got rave reviews from my family! The leftovers held up really well too when used as meal prep.
1) Doubled this and made it in a 13×9 glass dish because I don’t have a smaller pan/ we had many people to feed/wanted leftovers for the week’s lunches.
2)I think any cheese would work- I used 4 oz goat cheese and about 75 g total parm.
3)Used tarragon, and a tiny bit of thyme and parsley as the flavors instead. I think it would work well with “Italian” spices as well, or a different cheese and another set of spices if you wanted to mix it up from time to time.
4) Literally just added the ingredients to a bowl, stirred to get it evenly coated, and then baked. (Shredded the zucchini in the food processor (no draining etc), added completely dry straight from the bag rice, 2 tbs GF flour (really going with just what we had!), the goat cheese, milk, some of the parm, salt, pepper, spices, olive oil.
5) Did bake it for maybe 10-20 min longer? Basically just kept checking the rice to see when it was done was the best way to tell vs the timing. Then topped with butter and parm as directed and baked until golden brown, which took about the same amount of time as listed.
Aka this could easily be a dump and stir type thing if you get busy and still want something delicious!
LOVED THIS!!! Thank you so much!
EDIT! I 1.5x’d this for the 13×9, not 2x. Sorry making too many things at once! haha :)
Just used up almost 3 lbs of zucchini in this gratin – so good! A perfect summer side dish. It tastes like a good rice dish but it’s mostly vegetables! I used a shallow enameled cast iron pan to sauté the onions and garlic, baked the gratin in the same pan, making this a 1 pan dish!
As I did not have any parm on hand I grated Gouda cheese, figuring its flavour would be sharp enough. It was! Great easy recipe, simplified version of course.
Big fan of smitten recipes–but this one is not working for me. I used the streamlined directions (didn’t parboil the rice) and after almost 1hr 15 the top is crunchy but the rice inside is still uncooked. I just poured another half cup of liquid over it, increased the temp and tightened my foil. Fingers crossed that this works.
Hi there, it’s zucchini time (again!) & I’d like to try this, but I RARELY use anything but brown rice/whole grains. Is that an option, and if so, how much additional liquid (&/or time) should be used? Thank you!
Here are some comments from people who have made this with brown rice:
I haven’t tried it. The liquid from the zucchini should cook the rice, but brown rice might require extra. It will take quite a bit longer to bake from uncoooked rice.
New Technique: using a riff from Lidia B, I added rinsed rice to the zucchini right after grating, using only 1 spare teaspoon Diamond Crystal (not too much salt as I didn’t drain anything). Letting the rice “soak” while the salted zucchini released its liquid, I then hit the backyard with a glass of rose and the Sunday crossword. Plenty of liquid when I checked on it 35-45 minutes later. If you can salt-brine dried beans, why not rice? It still took about 45 minutes covered and 15 uncovered to soften, next time I might try microwaving the zucchini/soaked rice mixture for a few minutes before hitting the gratin dish. But it was few steps and fewer bowls. I used jasmine rice, might try Arborio next time. Delish!
Made this twice as it was that good—my daughter ate half the pan The first time and asked me to make again.
I made the simplified version. It was ok but not very interesting to eat – the texture was soft and mushy and the flavour was bland even though I added more cheese than the recipe said. I put breadcrumbs on the top with the cheese before grilling (broiling) it, just to give it some crunch. The rice was cooked after about 35 mins. I wouldn’t bother making it again sadly.
I’ve made this 3 times since published and it is a perfect summer zucchini dish. I didn’t do the first salting/draining as our zucchini here in Italy is so fresh that it doesn’t need this step. Neither did I precook the rice, I used basmati. My daughter ate half the casserole right out of the oven and asked me to please make it again and again. This is a keeper!
Made this for dinner last night using the new simplified instructions. My rice took FOREVER to cook. If forever means a total time of about an hour and forty minutes. I see I’m not the only one that has this problem. But also that plenty of people have zero problems. I’m an experienced cook and am perplexed as to what the issue could be. At the hour fifteen mark did raise the temp to 350…if I make this again would probably start out at 350 to see if that makes a difference. Threw in a can of drained/rinsed white beans. Would probably be good with an egg on top.
Is it possible your rice was old?
This has now been in the oven 1:45. The rice is still hard. I used the simplified recipe. I just bought the rice so it shouldn’t be old. I see I’m not the only one that this happened to, but most people it didn’t. I cannot fathom what happened.
Debra, I alway parboil the rice for this dish as it never fully cooked otherwise. The extra liquid usually cooks off once you crank the heat up for the last 10 mins of cooking. Hope this helps.
I made the streamlined version and the rice was not soft at 1 hour. I increased the heat to 350 and cooked about 25 minutes longer. I suspect setting the temperature to 350 at the outset would be more successful, and I bet a heavy enamel pot with lid might be more effective than covering with foil. I had no issue with soupiness. The end result was delicious and enjoyed by all!
This was fantastic! I did the shortened version because I started cooking way too late and here it is 11pm at night and I am having my second serving! I used half and half and only 2 lbs of zucchini because that is all I had. Added flour with the onions before the rice and then baked it foreeeeeever. My oven is a bit messed up though, but it turned out great! I wish I had added some chili flakes, but that is a personal preference.
I made the revised recipe, but my goodness, it took over 120 min to fully cook the rice!!! I cranked up the heat to 350 after the first hour and checked every 10-15 min. Maybe the type of rice could be clarified- the long grain white rice took forever and the family had long finished the rest of dinner before I could even finish it at 450. So, 3 hrs after starting, the dish was done and was superb!
Any idea how you might do this with quinoa?
I made this for the first time and WOW!!! It was so delish! I followed the original instructions and let my zucchini sit for 30 minutes and had just the right amount of liquid. I can’t wait to harvest my zucchini in my garden to make more. And I agree, it is so worthy of a fried egg on it. Thank you Deb & Julia for such an amazing recipe full of love and flavor. :-)
I came for the recipe and it took three scrolls through the page to find it. Your format is horrible. I won’t be back.
There is a “Jump to recipe” link right below the recipe title!
The first time I made this and presented it to my sons for dinner, my oldest declared, “I hate zucchini but I can’t stop eating this.” My second son refused to touch it but caved in the next time. Now when we serve it, they fight over who gets the last bite. Thank you for making veggies irresistible.
Oh, I almost forgot, I always add 1/2-1 tsp dried dill and tarragon to the onions while they cook. Try that next time you make it. It’s really yummy.
Have you done this with brown rice?
I made this with the new, simplified directions and it was my first ever miss from Smitten Kitchen. It came out very watery! It tasted good, but it was more of a zucchini porridge than a casserole. I think reheated tomorrow with a sprinkle of extra cheese it’ll make a nice lunch, but the texture isn’t what I wanted at all.
I mix about a cup of the leftovers with 1 pound lean turkey, 1 pound lean beef, and a little bit of garlic salt and make the best meatballs
We love this recipe. My family needed comfort food tonight – just got news that our beloved 15-year-old snuggle puss has a fast-growing tumour in her mouth and has very little time left with us. The large yellow summer squash I found in my garden wasn’t quite large enough, so I tossed in some fresh-cooked chickpeas this time. They were a welcome addition – extra protein felt like a good thing today.
Could you use summer squash instead?
Yes. Zucchini is a kind of summer squash.
Can you use leftover brown rice from takeout to make this? Or do you have to start with uncooked white rice only? Thanks!!
Do you think this would work with a giant overgrown garden zuc? I’ve been trying to use them after scraping seeds out in recipes that cook forever like zucchini bread. I know giant overgrown zucchinis are less watery… so… there’s that. Think it’ll work? Tips if i just give it a go?
This looks wonderful! Have you tried your version with brown rice? If not, then might try it later this week.
I made the second version and in terms of my 1/2 c. of liquid, after gazing into the refrigerator I settled on cornichon pickle brine. The resulting dish was amazing.
Approximately how many cups of grated zucchini… I don’t have a scale… sounds delicious!
Unfortunately this (new) recipe didn’t work well for me. The rice was undercooked and it was too salty, despite doing the lower salt recommendation (though I did salt the cooking onion mixture as written). Maybe the zucchini I used was relatively dry. I had been hoping this would be a fast and easy one with a good payoff, but sadly no. Maybe I’ll try the original recipe.
I have made this dish several times and it is one of my all time favorite ways to use zucchini. I received a spaghetti squash in my farmbox this week and thought, hmmm, could I some how sub the strands of that squash in for the zucchini? I believe it would need to be cooked first. I find spaghetti squash so ho hum. I would never ever buy one on its own. Any thoughts or advice would be greatly appreciated!
After reading all the comments about longer cooking times, I decided to try this with a few changes and it was well worth it!
I preheated to 350 and I used a heavy oven safe pot with a lid.
In the pot, on medium heat i brought the onions to medium translucent, then I added the rice, garlic, “flour” and zucchini. blended very well, added the cheese and with the heavy lid, put it in the oven. After 30 minutes at 350, I stirred and knew this would work well, no soupy mess here.
After 50 minutes, i took the lid off, added the cheese and drizzled the EVO and under the broiler for 3 minutes.
So tender, tasty and easy. This recipe is worth keeping, just a few adjustments as written. Enjoy!
I forgot to add that I also did 1/2 cup chicken stock before putting it in the oven Good luck everyone!
Can I use the giant zucchini I have for this recipe.
I made the recipe with 2 largish zucchini and basmati rice. It was delish! I used skim milk with a splash of whipping cream and cheddar cheese and breadcrumbs on the top. Sooo yummy and comforting!
EPIC fail. Followed the simple version, weighed my zucchini, and after 60 minutes the rice was nowhere near done, and I had to spoon out liquid. Back in the oven for another 20 min. Long story short, it was a disaster. Still don’t know what I did wrong:( Dinner was an hour late, but the flavor was great. Hoping it’s like lasagna, better the next day!
Thank you for this fantastic, simple and versatile recipe! It was a huge hit with my husband.
I used millet in my version (soaked 1/2 cup millet in 1/2 cup water during the day and it cooked up perfectly over the 50 minutes that evening.
To give mine a bit more flavor and use up more garden produce, I added celery leaves and basil. I didn’t have stock or milk handy so I used 1/2 lemon, some white wine and a bit of the liquid from a jar of kalamata olives for the 1/2 cup of liquid. Used some aged Gouda for the cheese in the last step. I used 1 tablespoon of cornstarch in place of the flour (what I had on hand).
Next time I will sauté some garden fennel and maybe celery with the onions.
Hi! Can you do this with brown rice??
Everyone loved it! I made this yesterday for dinner, for some friends who were over, and it was delicious. The simplified instructions were helpful and definitely made this easier to prepare. I needed my cast iron skillet for the pork chops I was also making, so I made this in a dutch oven as some other people had suggested. It worked out great in the dutch oven and the rice was completely cooked. I also threw in some yellow squash because I didn’t have a full 2 1/2 lbs of zucchini and it was totally fine.
I just saw the two tablespoons of flour but didn’t see in the directions when to add it. Mine is in the oven now…will it be a soupy mess without the flour?
I know I’m late to this party, but if my rice took an extra half hour to cook, what did i do wrong?
I made this recipe exactly as written for the simplified way, and it came out wonderfully. I used about 7 very small young zucchinis–they were about 5-inches x 1-inch thick–my favorite size. I used the 325- for 60 mins. followed by 450-degree for 15 mins. method. I used 1/2-cup milk and no flour. I used a regular 2-qt porcelain oval gratin dish. I used heavy duty foil tightly sealed on center rack of my oven. I allowed to rest covered in foil to set for about 20 to 30 mins till the rest of the dinner was done. Followed the recipe to a tee, made no substitutions, and had absolutely no problems, and my 13-year-old had seconds! Delicious. Thank you.
I made this last night and it was yummy! Maybe even better the second day. I have a question: how don you think swapping the Parmesan for Swiss or gruyere would work out?
I actually followed Julia’s directions which weren’t that much more difficult and came out with a perfect result. Make sure to squeeze the zucchini. Use the zucchini water as part of your 2.5 cups. This is an awesome recipe, but shortcuts aren’t the way 😊.
This was delicious. Read everyone’s comments…shredded/did not drain. Did not use flour nor milk–used chicken stock. Had no issue with rice cooking through (used a dutch oven to do the entire thing). Just shy a few grams of zucchini so added riced cauliflower to make up the difference. Also added lemon zest and that really brightened it. Served with a pan-seared cod in lemon/wine sauce. Will try with a spicy sausage next. It’s a keeper!
I was nervous to make this based on varying reviews, but the last of my garden squash had to go last night, so I took the plunge on this. It was sooo good. I used the original instructions. I got about 1 3/4 c liquid from my zucchini and only topped up the liquid to 2 c (with water). I didn’t add salt outside of salting the zucchini when I was straining it, and found that the cheese added plenty enough salt for my taste. It was a little liquid-y because we only let it sit for 10 minutes out of the oven before digging in, but I think it would have set perfectly with another 10 min to cool. Highly recommend anyways!
This would be lovely with a tray of baked vegetables
Substituted precooked spaghetti squash and a bit more liquid. Awesome!
Woot! Deliciousness! I made the streamlined version in a deep, lidded cast-iron skillet. I wanted to add something to have a vegetarian main dish, so I mixed in a can of cannellini beans when I took the lid off for browning (after 60 mins). Needed 10 mins at 425 plus two minutes under the broiler for crispy perfection. I happened to grate the zucchini the day before, which was a nice way to spread out the prep time. This one’s a keeper!
As always, this is a marvelous recipe with perfect directions. Thanks!
Can this be doubled and baked in a 9×13 baking dish? It seems like it would work, but I can’t tell…
Wow! I have never been a casserole type, but this one is both simple and utterly inviting. I will definitely try it out!
This is very (uncharacteristically) complicated! Two versions, with multiple variations and wildly different quantities and times! And ingredients – drizzle with oil! Or butter, whatever! The zucchini-squeezing and draining alone was baffling. Still waiting to see the result. It smells good!
Just adding the verdict… terrific. I followed mostly the original, was not too thorough with the zucchini squeezing , used a little less liquid and it all worked. So good.
This recipe has become the basis for much fruitful experimentation in my family. My son often uses sweet potato or butternut squash instead of zucchini, in which case the liquid is necessary. Instead of liquid, I recently added fresh spinach from the garden (next time I’ll add flour with the spinach as 18 oz was a bit too liquid) Knowing it will have a long bake, I don’t bother to sauté anything. Just mix it all together and bake. Delicious.
I over bought zucchini so decided to make this oldie but goodie. I made as instructed 2x with revised recipe . One dish I had canned chick peas for and in the other dish, I added some shredded chicken for complete
Veg and non veg meals.
This zucchini rice casserole looks divine! I would however like to make this with brown rice instead for a healthier option. Can I still mix the rice in uncooked? Would this change the cooking time or should I just cook the brown rice and then proceed?
You’ll need more cooking time, but it should otherwise work.
Do you have nutritional value for this recipe–trying to fit it into a food plan, thanks!
I just made this and could not get over how flavourful it was. It was just so so delicious. I used to easier/ one pot method and it worked perfectly with long grain white rice. Will be definitely making this again!
This is my new favourite dish, so much so I’ve sent the link to friends! Quick question though – which proteins work well with this?
With the simplifications, this is now our go-to zucchini dish. Another suggestion to simplify further: sauté the onion in an oven-proof (e.g. cast iron) frying pan, mix in other ingredients, cover (with top or foil), and bake. Saves a casserole pan.
Made original recipe because wanted to minimize oven time in a heat wave and it was fabulous. Used 1/8 cup wild rice 3/8 cup white. Parboiling (wild rice 20 mins, added white for another 10) and salting zucch not a big deal and those steps gave way more control. Didn’t forget flour :)
Simplified recipe: worked great with use of a le cruset skillet with a layer of heavy duty aluminum foil and the lid on top.
More rice: When I saw just 1/2 cup of rice, I increased this slightly to just under 2/3 cup of rice (I did not add liquid). Although it is definitely tasty, I felt there was still not enough rice to give this dish enough substance. This is more of a zucchini dish than a rice dish. I’ll try one cup of rice next time.
Texture: Even though I did run the gratin under the broiler, the dish’s texture was a little one-note to me (i.e., mushy), which probably shouldn’t be surprising, but I’d love a little crunch. I am thinking maybe adding some toasted sliced almonds (after baking) or topping with Deb’s almond pesto (also after baking) might taste great and add that missing texture.
I was thinking that it would be so good with a little panko on top!
May I just say that you are wonderful, your writing is inspired and refreshing and your recipes are constantly delightful?
I realized I didn’t have rice on hand and swapped in orzo instead. 🙏🏻 Came out perfectly. 👌Delicious! 🙌
I wish I had read the reviews before making a mess of my kitchen to make this.
Been in the oven for over an hour and still mushy lots of liquid. Made the revised version which was supposed to have been tested so I don’t know why it’s not working (and clearly I’m not the only one) .
I made this tonight, following the “updated” instructions, and served it up served up with some large grilled prawns. I followed the recipe exactly, which is rare for me, as I usually make tweaks and add more seasoning. Wow! I was amazed at how delicious it was…I could not stop eating it. It was absolutely fabulous, and so easy to make. Mine was not soupy, as others have complained about. I will definitely make this again and again.
After baking for almost 2 hours then broiling it , all the liquid actually was soaked up by the rice and it was quite tasty.
I made the new, simplified version tonight. Came out perfectly. Delicious – tastes like summer, healthy, sweet vegetable goodness. I followed your directions exactly. FYI, I measured the amount of salt I used – 1 teaspoon – & lots of freshly cracked black pepper. My only quibble: next time, I’m going to make just enuf for ONE casserole dish. My guesstimate is that I’ll need 1.5lbs zucchini, then I’ll proportionate the rest of the ingredients accordingly. Thanks for another winner, Deb.
I made this the simplified way (minus flour) in a 9×13 glass dish, convection oven set to 350 degrees for 50 min, broiled for 5-6 minutes. Rice was cooked and it was perfect!
This was delicious! I made it exactly as prescribed in the original version and was amazed at the great flavor. It wasn’t runny at all once fully cooked. I was a little concerned at first, because there was so much liquid but it turned out great. Thanks for another fantastic recipe!!
GOOD NEWS! Make this in the instant pot. Use sauté function to sauté onions and garlic in 3 T oil, then add the 1/2 c. rice as directed above. Add the grated zucchini, salt, and 1/2c. of liquid and half of the parmesan. Cook on high for 4 mins and allow 10 minute natural release. Brown with the rest of the parmesan and oil as directed above. SO EASY!
Yes! Nice work, Laura. This totally worked in the Instant Pot! And this is a delicious recipe, Deb. Thank you! It can act as both your grain (rice) and veggie (zucchini) for dinner. All you need is a protein. ;)
Hi Deb, I love your recipes and humor! I am highly allergic to aged foods. Do you have any substitutes for Parmesan cheese in this recipe or aged cheeses in general? (Other than water or homemade vegetable broth, chicken/beef/bone broth are no-gos. Risotto is not the same without Parmesan and/or chicken broth. I love your risotto but have not found a cheese for that dish that works for me, either – sob) Any ideas?
You could try some nutritional yeast or maybe a fresh cheese.
Made this with a couple substitutions that were delicious:
-Used summer squash instead of zucchini
-Added about half of a block of shredded fontina to the original mixture
-added more garlic and some sweet paprika
-after cooking but before broil, added seasoned panko
-finished w fresh chopped basil
Made it tonight and it turned out to be a favorite of everyone. I followed directions exactly as the new version, except I had cream I needed to use up and used a 1/2 cup of that for my liquid. It was done in the exact amount of time and the rice was perfectly cooked. I served it along with baked fish and it made a great meal.
I love this dish. I have made three times in about 2 weeks. It elevates zucchini to new heights. I don’t eat rice, I used farro instead and found it to be really delicious. I made it once without any grain and it was also great. So honestly, just make it. It is so good.
I remembered this recipe when I had a bunch of zucchini and leftover cooked rice that needed to be used. I ended up sauteing onion, garlic, and zucchini on the stovetop, then added some fresh corn kernels as well since I had it on hand. I mixed the cooked rice, sauteed veggies, and cheese all together (no liquid) and had it in the oven for about 20 minutes. If anyone else needs to adapt this to a recipe with cooked rice, I can attest that it was foolproof and turned out great.
Made this last night. After an hour at 325 the rice was still fully crunchy. I uncovered it, bumped the heat to 350, and cooked it for an extra half hour and it was delicious! Great the next day for lunch with a fried egg, too.
I loved this dish & made it for “meatless Monday.” The rice gives it a little heft so it’s good as a main entree.
I used brown jasmine rice (bc that’s what I had in-hand!), and it turned out great. I added a little extra broth/liquid to account for the brown rice and it cooked the full 60 mins. For sure, the rice had a little more chew to it than white rice would have but I didn’t mind that.
I made this tonight and it’s fantastic! The only changes I made were to add some ground thyme to the mix before putting it into the baking dish, and I had to use shallot instead of onion since that’s what we had on hand. I followed the updated directions, without flour, and it was super quick and baked up perfectly.
Will 100% be making this again!
I should mention, too, that I made HALF but I think my dish is still 2 or at least 1.5Qt so that thinner layer probably contributed to it cooking up nice and dry.
Hi! Looks amazing. Is the 2 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt specific to the original recipe when you salt the Zucchini beforehand? Thank you!!!
Ugh. Wanted to love this simplified version and it turned out a soggy mess. Not sure what I did wrong…
You guys had me so worried ab making this, but it looked too good not to try with my pile of garden zucchini. I made the simplified version in my oval Dutch oven, exactly as written, and it came out perfectly! I sautéed everything in there and just added zucchini to the same pan for cooking. 50 minutes at 325, and the rice (I used basmati) was perfectly tender, and no soupiness. I cranked up the heat for 10, then broiled for a few mins, just like Deb suggested. Maybe the residual heat from baking in the already hot heavy Dutch oven (rather than transferring to new cold dish) helped reduce cooking time, as well as using a tight lid. I did add the 2 tbsp of flour after adding rice, before adding zucchini. I used whole milk as my liquid. I did add extra parm bc I wanted it a little more indulgent:).
I can’t speak to how this compares to the complex version, bc I’ll never go to the trouble when the simple version is SO good!! This is a fantastic recipe that will become a regular in our house. Thanks, Deb!! You always do veggies so well!
I made this in my slow cooker and it worked perfectly. I followed the new version of the recipe and kept the quantities the same. I only have one setting on my slow cooker but it was ready after 3 hours when I checked it. The rice was a little soft, so next time I’d check after 2 and 1/2 hours.
I just made this vegan by omitting the cheese and adding some nutritional yeast and extra virgin olive oil. It was AMAZING. The zucchini is so buttery and delicate. I also used par boiled short grain brown rice and it cooked perfectly.
Made this according to the original recipe and it turned out nearly perfect. It was a little salty so next time will use less salt to drain the zucchini and perhaps give it a good rinse and second drain. One thing to note for the people using the quick method that turned out too “soupy”. The simplified directions say to bake at 325 degrees while the original says 425. Could that be the issue?
Man, this was good. I used some homemade leftover cream of my soup as my liquid and that was a very good move. I drained the zucchini, used uncooked rice and baked for 50 minutes at 325 covered in a baking dish w lid and baked for an additional 10 minutes at 425. It was perfection!
Just made this following the original recipe except that I rinsed the rice before parboiling (as an Asian I can’t cook rice without rinsing it!) and used Gruyère instead of Parmesan and it was delicious. It turned out perfectly, cooked perfectly in 30 minutes following exactly the original method per Deb’s recipe. Thanks for another delicious recipe!
Really fantastic. Will make again!
I went with the updated (streamlined) method but did a half recipe and baked in my little cast iron skillet. It started to smell divine, even through the foil, around 30-35 minutes in. The caramelized edges and bottom are what make this dish, so I recommend baking it in a wide so you get more surface area to maximize edges.
After making it once as written, I went rogue and eliminated the rice. Spiralized the zukes, salted and drained, and used an extra sharp cheddar for the cheese. Even better than the original, in my opinion!
I think the simplified one doesn’t say to add the flour. Unless I missed it – but just realized I forgot to add :( ugh!
You don’t need flour in the simplified one.
I’ve made this several times and LOVE it. Next time I may try it with Thai jasmin brown rice. If anyone has tried this variation. LMK.
Oh, I made the updated version. Less fuss.
I made the updated version tonight in a corningware dish. After an hour in the oven it was still quite soupy, and the rice still crunchy. Disappointing.