Recipe: Zucchini Gratin by Julia Child

Recipe: Zucchini Gratin by Julia Child

When people hear that I am an obesity specialist, they often assume that I must eat boring, bland diet food. I quickly tell them that I love to cook and, in fact, worship at the feet of Julia Child. This has become one of my favorite ways to eat my veggies. Boring, bland diet food? I think not!

(This is another recipe I discovered from the Food52 Genius Recipes Cookbook and website. I issue the same warnings that I did before about finding “Not for Me” recipes in the cookbook and on the website. This one has a few more carbs but I think totally worth it!)

Julia Child’s Gratin of Zucchini, Rice & Onions with Cheese

2-2½ lbs. zucchini or other summer squash
½ Cup white rice
1 Cup minced onions
5-6 Tbsp. olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, mashed or finely minced
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
About 2½ Cups warm liquid (zucchini juices plus milk), heated
⅔ Cups grated Parmesan cheese (with 2 Tbsp. saved for later)
Salt and Pepper

1. Pre-heat oven to 425°.

2. Rub the zucchini against the coarse side of a grater, and place grated flesh in a colander set over a bowl. (I do this with the grater attachment of my food processor.)

3. For each 1 pound (~2 Cups) of grated zucchini, toss with 1 teaspoon of salt, mixing thoroughly. Let the zucchini drain 3 or 4 minutes, or until you are ready to proceed. Just before cooking, squeeze a handful dry and taste. If the zucchini is too salty, rinse in a large bowl of cold water, taste again; rinse and drain again if necessary. Then squeeze gently by handfuls, letting juices run back into bowl.

4. Dry on paper towels. Zucchini will not be fluffy; it is still dampish, but the excess liquid is out.

5. While the shredded zucchini is draining, drop the rice into salted boiling water, bring rapidly back to the boil, and boil 5 minutes; drain and set aside.

6. In a large (11-inch) frying pan, cook the onions slowly in the oil for 8 to 10 minutes until tender and translucent. Raise heat slightly and stir several minutes until very lightly browned. (I cook my gratin in a cast-iron pan that is stove-top to oven to table, so I do the rest of the recipe in the same dish.)

7. Stir in the grated and dried zucchini and garlic. Toss and turn for 5 to 6 minutes until the zucchini is almost tender.

8. Sprinkle in the flour, stir over moderate heat for 2 minutes, and remove from heat.

9. Gradually stir in the 2½ Cups warm liquid (zucchini juices plus milk, heated gently in a pan—but don’t let it get so hot that the milk curdles!). Make sure the flour is well-blended and smooth. Turn heat to moderately high and bring to the simmer, stirring.

10. Remove from the heat again, stir in the blanched rice and all but 2 Tbsp. of the cheese.

11. Turn into a buttered baking dish (if not already in an oven-safe dish), sprinkle with remaining cheese, and drizzle the olive oil over the cheese.

12. Set in upper third of the oven until the gratin is bubbling and the top has browned nicely. The rice should absorb all the liquid.

I think I like this dish even more the second day for lunch. I usually reheat it in the toaster oven with a sprinkle of Parmesan and olive oil to give it a fresh bubbly topping.

Serves: 8
Protein: 9
Carbs: 19
Fiber: 2

(Net Carbs: 17)