Zucchini quietly crept up on us this year. Every night we’d meander out to the garden to take a peak at its progress and we’d come away with dashed hope. Greens are taking over, including squash leaves, and I began to wonder if it was going to be a garden season of slow production of “fruit” but big on leaves.
Yesterday we took our daily scout out to our over abundant plot and I found 6 giant zucchini that came out of nowhere! They were sleepily lurking under all of their pokey foliage. Speaking of foliage…we have enough collard, swiss chard and lettuces for an army, while the kale has struggled and because it’s a favorite, we replanted. Needless to say, I’m scrambling to create new dishes and new ways to preserve them for winter use.
This recipe has been adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s Zucchini Rice Bake, because I simply wanted to integrate the monumental chard leaves that needed picking. I tweaked it in a few other ways too, not that her recipe isn’t devine. As it turns out, it makes a wonderful vegetarian main dish, a one pot meal, but there is always room for it as a side as well. The addition of brown rice gives it a wonderful nutty flavor.
Zucchini Rice Gratin with Swiss Chard
1 cup uncooked long grain brown rice
1 1/2 lbs. zucchini sliced in
1/4 inch rounds
1/2 lb. tomatoes, sliced in 1/4 inch rounds
4 cups fresh swiss chard chopped into 2 inch pieces
sea salt and pepper
1 medium onion
3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped
4 eggs,lightly beaten
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped
3/4 cup parmesan cheese, divided in half
Cook brown rice according to package directions. After cooking set aside to cool for 10 minutes before lightly stirring with a fork.
While rice is cooking, roast the zucchini and tomatoes. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Toss zucchini slices with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and lay out in one layer on one cookie sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place 1 tablespoon of olive oil on another cookie sheet, laying out tomatoes in a single layer; season with salt and pepper. Roast pans of veggies, removing the tomatoes after 10 minutes, turn the zucchini slices and continue to roast for an additional 10 minutes. Set aside.
In a colander, massage chopped swiss chard with 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt and let sit for 10 minutes until wilted. Rinse off salt and squeeze out extra moisture.
Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a medium skillet and saute chopped onion and garlic with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Once the onions are translucent, turn the heat down to low, cover pan and cook onions until soft, about 10 more minutes.
Oil a 13×9 inch pan. Combine rice, beaten eggs, fresh thyme, onions, half of the parmesan cheese, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and wilted chard in a medium bowl. Season generously with freshly ground black pepper and salt to your taste. Layer half of the rice mixture on the bottom of prepared pan. Lay half of the zucchini slices on top and cover with the rest of the rice mixture.
Place a final layer of zucchini slices over the rice and cover with roasted tomatoes. Sprinkle remaining parmesan cheese on top. Bake for 20 minutes at 450 until browned.