Thursday, January 16, 2014

Zucchini and spinach gratin, tian de courgettes aux feuilles de blettes

In Richard Olney's Simple French Food this zucchini and chard casserole has the tongue-tripping name tian de courgettes aux feuilles de blettes. You may substitute des épinards, spinach, for feuilles de blettes, chard. Quite good and a little easier to pronounce.

To begin, you will grease a large casserole with olive oil.

But wait. Before you begin, you will have had to grate, peel, chop, shred, and cook quite a few things by way of preliminary. The zucchini, the spinach, the rice, the cheese, the onions, the parsley -- well, do look below for these little details embedded in the recipe, which assumes that you "have ready,"      

  • 2 pounds zucchini, grated, salted, and drained of excess liquid
  • 2 medium onions, diced and stewed gently in olive oil until soft (this will take about 20 minutes)
  • 1 and 1/2 cups cooked rice
  • 2 pounds Swiss chard or spinach -- and how on earth does one weigh out pounds of spinach? I used a typical 10-ounce bag, washed, drained, and shredded
  • 3 ounces bacon slices, chopped
  • 3 large cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 large handful parsley, chopped
  • 3 eggs
  • salt, pepper
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus more for sprinkling on surface
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
After everything is "prepped," as professionals say, it becomes so simple. Mix all well -- "intimately," "squishing the mixture repeatedly with your fingers," Richard instructs -- except one last handful of the cup of cheese, and the 1/3 cup olive oil. Sprinkle and drizzle both these last on top of your thoroughly blended and patted down tian de courgettes aux ....

Bake at 350 F for 1 hour, turning up heat to 450 F for the last10 minutes.

It makes a huge dish, suitable for a holiday side or as a luxurious contribution to a buffet. And surely it deserves a huge and luxurious wine to go with. Napa chardonnay? French Côtes-du-Rhône? A German riesling ... ah, there.  Amusez-vous.   

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