Growing up in Northeast Ohio, I was spoiled by the fresh produce from my father’s vast, ½ acre garden. Being of Italian heritage, my father grew bushels of tomatoes, peppers, zucchini and fresh herbs, and we enjoyed these vegetables in countless dishes throughout the season. Zucchini was among my favorites, prepared mainly in dishes passed on from my grandmother, who came to America from Giulianova, Italy.
I keep a simple garden plot today, and zucchini is one of its stars. It’s an easy plant to grow, but it needs lots of space to spread out and plenty of sunshine to thrive. If you are willing to sacrifice the future harvest, its bright yellow flowers can be stuffed with meat or a breadcrumb mix and then baked. As the zucchini themselves mature, watch them carefully. They are best picked when 10-12 inches in length so that the flesh is tender and the seeds have not matured.
The dish I am offering today for Weekday Supper takes advantage of the health benefits of summer produce including my favorite zucchini along with tomatoes and fresh parsley. Cheeses add flavor and the addition of rice makes for a filling casserole.
Zucchini Rice Gratin
To kick off the official beginning of summer, try this savory baked dish to celebrate the first zucchini of the season.
3 medium, 10 inch zucchini
3 bunches of spring onions, white and light green parts, chopped
1 pint cherry tomatoes
2 cups rice, cooked
¼ cup milk
¼ cup chicken broth
½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
¼ cup goat cheese, sliced into rounds
2 tbs chopped parsley
2 tbs olive oil
½ tsp onion powder
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
Working time 15 minutes. Baking time 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to broil. Slice zucchini lengthwise into coin-size slices and cut tomatoes in halves. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Layer on sheet pan and broil for 7 minutes.
While zucchini and tomatoes are broiling, sauté spring onions in 2 tbs olive oil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and combine with rice, seasonings, parmesan cheese, milk and chicken broth.
Turn oven down to 375 degrees. Spray a shallow baking dish with vegetable spray.
Place one layer of zucchini slices along the bottom of the pan. Transfer rice mixture and spread on top. Arrange remaining zucchini slices and tomatoes across the top. Dot with goat cheese rounds.
Bake covered for 20 minutes. Uncover and broil for 5-10 minutes until browned. Serve as a side dish, or for a heartier meal, incorporate ¼ cup browned ground meat into the mixture before baking.
Inspired by American Family Insurance, the Sunday Supper team is bringing you garden fresh recipes all month long. This week’s Weekday Supper meals can be found on their corresponding day on the websites below.
Monday - Zucchini Noodle Salad with Arugula, Burrata and Tomatoes by The Girl In The Little Red Kitchen
Tuesday - Zucchini Rice Gratin by Delaware Girl Eats
Wednesday - Shrimp Alfredo with Spaghetti Squash by Yours And Mine Are Ours
Thursday - Turkey Spinach Salad with Herb Vinaigrette by Magnolia Days
Friday - Farmers Market Pasta by Momma’s Meals
Join American Family Insurance for more great recipes on their #ChooseDreams Pinterest board. You can also connect with them via their Website, Linkedin, Youtube, Google+, Twitter, Facebook and their Pinterest Account.
This post is sponsored by American Family Insurance. All opinions are my own.