Sometimes you make something that forces you to slow down. For me that normally involves baking and I love it. You can’t rush yeast, a cake needs time, dough wants methodical kneading, pastry asks for, well, everything.
So I saw this recipe on Smitten Kitchen and while I am not the greatest fan of zucchini I needed to make it instantly. What I didn’t realise was it was going to force me to go slow and follow a number of steps. I am, in reality, a much more ‘bung it all in and hope for the best’ cook.
It’s based on a Julia Child recipe and while I own her voluminous Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volumes 1 and 2 I have never cooked from them. So I was, in effect, uninitiated.
You have no choice but to slow down but I was making it for dinner so didn’t want to slow down and got a bit cranky with the whole thing. Salting zucchinis, par-boiling rice, slowly sweating off onions, it doesn’t sound like much but for a weeknight #everyfuckingnight it was frustrating.
But dagnammit it tasted out of this world which annoyed me even more (and everyone except Felix inhaled it). So my advice is definitely make it but go into it with patience, a willingness to wash up a lot and the knowledge you will be handsomely rewarded.
- 1.1kg zucchini
- 1½ tsp of salt
- ½ cup white rice
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 3 tblsp olive oil
- 2 large cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 tblsp plain flour
- Milk, as needed, although broth of your choice would work just fine
- ⅔ cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 200C and put your oven rack in the top third of your oven
- Halve lengthwise, and if seeds are particularly large, core them out. Grate using a food processor unless you're a masochist and want to do it by hand
- Place in a colander set over a bowl. Toss with kosher salt then let drain (according to Julia Child for 5 minutes). I weighted it and drained it for 30 minutes. Don't throw the liquid away
- Squeeze a little bit out and taste it. If it's really overly salty (mine was) rinse it under the tap and squeeze out (this water you don't save).
- Squeeze all of the zucchini in handfuls collecting the juices into the bowl of drained liquid. You really want to squeeze it out so you don't have soggy gratin.
- Bring to the boil for just 5 minutes then drain and set aside.
- 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 and cook for about 5 minutes
- Sprinkle in the flour, stir over moderate heat for 2 minutes, and remove from heat.
- Measure the drained liquid from the zucchini. You want 2½ cups. I got that exactly (skill!) but if you don't add some milk to make up the difference.
- Stir into zucchini-onion mixture, return pan to stove over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer, stirring.
- Remove from heat and stir in the rice and all but 2 tablespoons cheese (I added all the cheese then sprinkled extra over the top because, cheese.
- Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
- Pour into a baking dish, sprinkle over more cheese and dot with butter
- Bake for 30 minutes (if it's browning too quickly cover with foil then uncover again for the last 5 minutes.