Zucchini Tian

Ah, the zucchini. Mild, slightly sweet, and so versatile – it’s one of my favorite vegetables, ever. I usually sauté it, throw it in a stir-fry or cut them raw into thin ribbons for a salad (my favorite way to eat it). But when I came across this recipe in honor of Julia Child’s 100th birthday, I knew I had to make it.

It tastes rich but is actually really light and brings out the sweetness of the zucchini. The grated cheese adds a nice flavor but doesn’t overwhelm. It’s definitely something I’d make again. And you probably have all the ingredients in your refrigerator.

How delicious does that look?! (I say that in the humblest way possible :))

Zucchini Tian (Tian de Courgettes au Riz)

From “Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volume Two” (Julia Child), via Food52

Ingredients:

  • 2 to 2 1/2 pounds zucchini – roughly 2-3 zucchini depending on the size
  • 1/2 cup uncooked white rice
  • 1 cup minced onions or shallots
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large cloves garlic, mashed or finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons flour (I used whole-wheat)
  • About 2 1/2 cups warm liquid: zucchini juices plus milk, heated in a pan (I used unsweetened almond milk)
  • About 2/3 cups grated Parmesan cheese (save 2 tablespoons for later)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Method:

Cut off the ends of the zucchini and scrub clean under running water. (If vegetables are large, halve or quarter them. If seeds are large and at all tough, and surrounding flesh is coarse rather than moist and crisp, cut out and discard the cores.)

Grate the zucchini using a food processor or box grater, and place in a colander set over a bowl. Sprinkle with salt and let the squash drain for 3 or 4 minutes, or until you are ready to proceed.

Just before cooking, squeeze a handful dry and taste. If the squash 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. Dry on paper towels. Zucchini will not be fluffy; it is still dampish, but the excess liquid is out. (The pale-green, slightly saline juice drained and squeezed out of the zucchini has a certain faint flavor that can find its uses in vegetable soups, canned soups, or vegetable sauces.)

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

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.

Stir in the grated and dried zucchini and garlic. Toss and turn for 5 to 6 minutes until the zucchini is almost tender. Sprinkle in the flour, stir over moderate heat for 2 minutes, and remove from heat.

Gradually stir in the 2 1/2 cups warm liquid (zucchini juices plus milk, heated gently in a pan — don’t let it get so hot that the milk curdles!). Make sure the flour is well blended and smooth.

Return over moderately high heat and bring to the simmer, stirring. Remove from the heat again, stir in the blanched rice and all but 2 tablespoons of the cheese. Taste very carefully for seasoning. Transfer into buttered baking dish, strew remaining cheese on top, and dribble the olive oil over the cheese.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until tian starts to bubble. If you like, broil slightly to brown the top.

Serve it with grilled shrimp or chicken and a salad. Perfect.

Mmm…

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