Courgette and Rice Cheese Gratin

When I could finally use our oven again, one of the first things I tried was this very straightforward oven bake with courgette and delicious crispy cheese cover.

The original recipe on Smitten Kitchen was based on a 1970s Julia Child recipe, but I followed their “new and simplified” instructions. As their page displays both, I noticed some inconsistencies, so I decided to take up my version below.

Not many changes to their version, though. I do recommend to use stock (over water or milk) as it already provides for seasoning, so you will need less additional salt later on. Also, I slightly increased the cheese content, but the kids complained – as per usual, I should add – that it should have been increased by a lot. However, Chantal and I really liked the dish just because it was not one of those heavy cream-and-cheese based gratins. With the rice giving it a surprisingly light structure, this really is a great “new” way to cook courgettes. Delightful on its own, but to us, it was more of a side dish than a main dish.

The recipe (serves 4-6)

  • Butter to grease the oven dish
  • 4 medium courgettes (about 1¼ kg / 2½ pounds)
  • 5 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 90g / ½ cup plain, uncooked white rice
  • 125ml / ½ cup vegetable stock
  • 65g / ¾ cup Parmesan cheese, grated, divided
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Preheat your oven to 160℃ / 325.
  2. Grease a 2 liter/ 2-quart oven dish with butter.
  3. Wash the courgettes, trim the ends and coarsely grate them in a large bowl.
  4. Heat 3 tbsp of olive oil in a large frying pan on medium heat and slowly cook the onions until tender and translucent (about 8 to 10 minutes).
  5. Raise the heat to medium-high and brown the onions lightly before adding the garlic and let it cook for another minute. Then add the uncooked rice and sauté for another 2 minutes to toast it.
  6. Transfer the mix to the bowl with the courgette and stir in with the vegetable broth and all but 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan cheese. Taste and season generously with salt and pepper.
  7. Put everything into the prepared oven dish, cover it tightly with aluminum foil and bake until rice is just cooked (about 50 to 60 minutes).
  8. Increase oven temperature to 230℃/ 450.
  9. Remove foil and drizzle the top with the remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil and sprinkle over the remaining Parmesan cheese. Bake uncovered until browned and crispy, another 10 to 15 minutes.
  10. Remove from the oven and let the dish cool slightly before serving.

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