Zucchini Gratin with Toasted Pine Nuts
A delicious light, side dish ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.
4 Large or Medium Zucchini
1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup plain, uncooked Basmati or Jasmine white rice
1 Large onion, chopped
1 cup pine nuts, toasted (you toast them yourself)
5 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
6 large garlic cloves, finely minced (not squeezed)
2 Tablespoons chickpea or almond flour
Almond milk, as needed, or broth
1.5 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided (save some for topping)
Pinch black pepper
Pinch chili flakes
Do yourself a favor and gather all of the ingredients in one place, before you start to cook. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.
Toast the pine nuts and set aside
Toasting the pine nuts: Use 1 teaspoon olive oil, or if you’re careful and keep shaking the pan from side to side over the flame, you don’t need any oil. With or without the oil, constantly shake the pan to keep the pine nuts moving, which will toast them evenly and keep them from burning. The minute you get a nice golden brown color, remove immediately, or they will burn. The toasting takes less than one minute. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.
Wash zucchini and trim ends. Cut in half lengthwise. Remove any large seeds. Coarsely grate and place in a colander set over a bowl. Toss with the salt. Let drain for 30 minutes. The salt helps to pull the liquid out of the zucchini.
Grating the zucchini directly into a flat dish or colander. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.
Save drained liquid and squeeze a handful of the zucchini and taste. If it’s very salty, rinse and drain it again (don’t save liquid this second time). Squeeze all of the zucchini in handfuls, gently, collecting any juices in the bowl of drained liquid. Blot dry on paper towels. It’s very important that you not only squeeze any excess liquid out of the zucchini, but also dry it with paper towels. If you don’t go through this squeezing and drying process, later when you take the zucchini out of the oven, there will be too much excess liquid to deal with.
Here’s what the drained liquid from the grated zucchini looks like. When you give this liquid back to the casserole, later, the zucchini will not re-absorb it, the rice will absorb it, which is what you want. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.
Boil rice for exactly 2 to 3 minutes in salted water. You don’t want the rice to cook thoroughly at this point. Drain and set aside.
In a large frying pan, add 3 Tablespoons olive oil and cook the onions slowly, over low flame, for 8 to 10 minutes until tender and translucent. Raise heat slightly and stir several minutes until very lightly browned.
Here the grated zucchini and garlic have been added to the onions. The aroma fills the kitchen. About to add the flour. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.
Stir in the grated and dried zucchini and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Toss and turn for 2 to 4 minutes until the zucchini is almost tender.
Sprinkle in the flour, stir over moderate heat for 2 minutes, and remove from heat.
Measure the drained, green liquid from the zucchini. If you have less than 2 1/2 cups, add milk or broth, to bring the level up to the 2 1/2 cups.
Stir the 2.5 cups of liquid into the zucchini-onion mixture and return pan to stove over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer, stirring.
Remove from heat again, stir in par-cooked rice and 1 cup of the cheese. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
Now, add the pine nuts to the pan and stir for a few seconds.
Finally, add the contents of the pan, into a 2-quart baking dish. Sprinkle with the rest of the parmesan and remaining olive oil.
About to go into the oven. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.
30 minutes before serving: Heat oven to 425 degrees. Bake in upper third of oven until bubbling and browned on top, about 25 to 30 minutes. (If it begins to brown too quickly, cover it with foil until the last 5 minutes.) The rice should absorb all the liquid. Serve immediately.
Just taken out of the oven. Smells wonderful! ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.
We started dinner with chilled Santa Margherita pinot grigio and a Caesar salad recipe I’m working on. When perfected, I will share, of course. By the way, a few weeks ago, I mentioned an orange/beet salad I’m working on. Some readers wanted that recipe right away. The only reason that you haven’t seen that recipe yet, is that I like to use Cara Cara oranges, and Blood oranges with the beets and these oranges are not at their peak right now. I haven’t forgotten my promise to share this. Meanwhile, my Caesar salad recipe is nearly ready to publish. The next course was the zucchini gratin, which I served with a baked mushroom medley & broccoli. Dessert was our favorite jello cake and Cool whip.
Went to an awful play, not worth discussing, on Saturday. We watched the activities of the Pope with great interest. He’s definitely a man of peace and thoughtfulness and brought beauty into everyone’s home this weekend. Religions should be made of this. We got together with family and generally had a relaxing wonderful weekend.
Saying goodbye to the lazy days of summer. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.
From Our Table to Yours!