I've never thought, or heard of, using rice in a baked dish. I've heard of boiling, steaming and frying rice, even making pudding with rice, but never heard of baking your rice. In my family, rice is probably the most dominant food in our household, and we boil it every. single. time.
So when this recipe came out on smitten kitchen, I thought it was a good chance to try out baking my rice, seeing as I love courgettes, I love rice, I love tomatoes.. Actually I pretty much loved everything in this dish. I even added some aubergine because
Courgette and Aubergine Gratin
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
1 cup of uncooked rice
5 tablespoons olive oil
5-6 medium sized courgettes, sliced 1/4 inch thick.
500 grams (around 5) tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 large aubergine, sliced 1/4 inch thick, sprinkled with salt to draw out moisture
1 medium onion, chopped*
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
salt and ground pepper
Preheat the oven to 230°C (450°F).
Cook rice according to package directions/ however you normally cook your rice. While the rice cooks, cover however many pans your oven can carry with baking paper and coat baking paper with a little olive oil (about a tablespoon for bigger pans, less for smaller ones). Spread the courgettes, tomato and aubergine slices on separate baking sheets in as close as a single layer as you can. Sprinkle courgettes and tomatoes with 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and sprinkle all slices with a few grinds of black pepper. Roast tomatoes for 10 minutes, courgettes for 20 minutes and aubergines for 30 minutes, flipping courgettes and aubergines halfway through. Don't bother flipping tomatoes over.
Heat a pan (or the pan you cooked your rice in) over medium heat. When hot add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, heat oil then add onions, garlic and a little salt. Reduce heat and cook until onions are cooked and tender, but not brown, stirring occasionally*.
Mix together the onion mixture, rice, eggs, mint, 3/4 of the grated cheese and half a tablespoon of olive oil in a bowl. Add a good amount of freshly ground pepper. Coat a large baking dish with half a tablespoon of oil.
Spread half of the rice mixture in the bottom of the dish, and lay out half (or more, up to you) of the roasted courgettes on top. Spread the remaining rice mixture over it and arrange the rest of the courgettes, aubergines and tomatoes in layers. Sprinkle remaining grated cheese on top and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until set and golden brown.
*The original recipe halved the onion lengthways and sliced them thinly. Due to picky eaters in the household I've chopped mine to make them less noticeable. However, if you do decide to slice yours, when cooking, reduce the heat to low and cover pan and cook until onions are limp and tender, around 15-20 minutes, stirring often.