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
- Preheat your oven to 160℃ / 325℉.
- Grease a 2 liter/ 2-quart oven dish with butter.
- Wash the courgettes, trim the ends and coarsely grate them in a large bowl.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- Increase oven temperature to 230℃/ 450℉.
- 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.
- Remove from the oven and let the dish cool slightly before serving.