END OF SUMMER FEAST: Corn Cakes with Lemon Chive Creme Fraiche; Zucchini & Rice Gratin; Greens with Dried Tomatoes & Roasted Chickpeas; Blueberry Tart
The end of summer is both bitter and sweet. Bitter because soon there won’t be any summer squash and zucchini at the farmers’ markets around here. And sweet for exactly the same reason.
Raise your hand if you’re a little bit sick of summer squash. Raise it higher if it’s possible you’re even sick of some of summer’s other bounty. Peaches? Tomatoes? Corn? We don’t judge.
The rice, cheese, egg, and breadcrumbs in this potluck portable are fantastic foils for all those vegetables you think you’ve exhausted. When you chop them up, saute them in olive oil with onion and garlic, and bake them with the aforementioned accoutrements, they taste almost novel. Come the first days of fall, you can use vegetables that actually will be novel. And when winter starts to arrive, I think this gratin will be a tasty vehicle for those end-of-autumn vegetables you can no longer fathom cooking with.
From my kitchen, albeit small, to yours,
Cara, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOK
Zucchini & Rice Gratin
Adapted from The Splendid Table
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 to 3 large garlic cloves, to taste, minced
3 small-medium zucchini or other summer squash, cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 2 pounds)
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3/4 cup cooked Arborio rice (cook according to package directions)
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup fresh arugula
2 eggs, beaten
3 ounces white cheddar cheese, grated (about 3/4 cup)
1/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs
Cooking spray, or about 2 teaspoons more olive oil
Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Oil a deep-dish pie pan, a Dutch oven, a cast iron skillet, or any other attractive (or in my case, portable) pan. The pan should hold about 2 quarts.
Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until it’s translucent. Add the garlic and stir cook it for just 30 seconds or so, until it begins to smell fragrant. Stir in the squash. Cook, stirring often, until the squash is soft but hasn’t lost its shape, about 5 minutes. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper, and thyme. Taste to make sure the veggies are salty enough.
Combine the rice with the butter. Remove the pan with the sauteed vegetables from the heat and stir in the rice.
Stir the eggs, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, the cheese, and the arugula into the zucchini mixture and combine well. Pour into the baking dish, and sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the top.
Spray with cooking spray, or drizzle on the remaining 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Bake 40 to 45 minutes, or until the top is browned and the gratin is sizzling. Remove from the heat and allow to sit for at least 10 minutes before serving.
Serve this hot, warm or at room temperature.