Zucchini is still available in this corner of the world, in spite of the cold weather. They sit, on sale, mocking me at the grocery store. Roasted zucchini and tomatoes go so well together, you see. I can’t really eat tomatoes anymore without some discomfort, and tomatoes are no good at this time of year anyway. Then I remember: I can make a version of Smitten Kitchen’s zucchini gratin WITHOUT tomatoes!
I use roasted red pepper, which I buy in a big jar, in place of the tomatoes. They add color and moisture to the dish. Since I don’t use minced garlic, I make sure to taste the rice mixture before putting in the eggs. Feel free to add a little extra seasoning if necessary.
1/3 cup uncooked white rice
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 pounds zucchini (about 3 medium), sliced 1/4-inch thick
1/2 pound roasted red peppers, chopped into bite-sized pieces
Table salt and white pepper
1 medium onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1.5 teaspoons of garlic powder (if tolerated)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup grated Parmesan, divided
Preheat oven to 450°F. Cook the rice. While rice cooks, coat one large baking sheet with a tablespoon of olive oil (a bit less for smaller pans). Spread zucchini slices on the baking sheets in as close to a single layer as you can. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of white pepper. Roast the zucchini for 20 minutes. Flip zucchini halfway through.
Heat large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add 2 tablespoons olive oil, heat oil, then add onions, garlic and 1/4 teaspoon salt to pan. Cover and reduce heat to low, cooking onion until limp and tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.
Taste bits of your dish to see if you have enough seasoning. Combine onion mixture, rice, eggs, thyme, half of your grated cheese and a half-tablespoon of olive oil in a bowl. Add a good amount of white pepper. Use the remaining half-tablespoon of olive oil to coat a shallow 2-quart baking dish. Spread half of rice mixture in bottom of dish. Arrange half of roasted zucchini on top. Spread remaining rice mixture over it. Arrange remaining zucchini on top, then the roasted red pepper slices. Sprinkle with remaining grated cheese and bake until set and golden brown, about 20 minutes.
Adapted from http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2012/07/zucchini-rice-gratin/