A tasty vegetarian side dish packed with cheesy goodness and fresh zucchini!
I have fond memories of many picture books from when I was little. In particular I remember two longer picture books that always provided entertainment: Everybody Bakes Bread and Everybody Cooks Rice. The premise of the latter is that a girl is sent to go find her younger brother, so she stops in at all the neighbors’ houses. As she goes from house to house, she sees that everyone–no matter their cultural background–is making some sort of rice. I believe there are some recipes included, too. Perfect for the budding foodie.
This is not the type of rice I usually make. Typically I go for straight-up steamed rice, brown or white depending on my mood, nothing added. Or sometimes I make risotto like this or this, but that uses a short-grain rice and not a long-grain and we’re sticking with long-grain rice today. I have a weakness for Rice-A-Roni but that hasn’t been a staple in my diet since high school. However, every now and then it’s nice to make something different, to use the rice as a base to build flavors. I happened to buy some zucchini and the store this week and I also had a block of cheese that I had no plans for so…thank you, Pinterest!
While some rice dishes that are more than just plain rice take longer to make, this recipe is quick and easy. You simply brown your rice in olive oil, then cook it as you would plain rice, and then add your remaining ingredients and let sit for five more minutes. Thirty minutes, tops. Just like regular steamed rice. I bet this would have even more flavor if you used brown rice (because brown rice has that nutty quality) but I have yet to see brown rice in Austria and can’t test this for you. Of course, if you use brown rice the “quick” notion goes out the window, as brown rice needs about 45 minutes to cook.
I actually just ate this rice as my main dish for lunch, but I think it would be great with some baked chicken. Or you could make this a real main dish by adding steamed veggies like broccoli and cauliflower, or add chunks of cooked chicken right into the rice…endless possibilities for customizing to your taste!
Oh, and by the way, the weather here yesterday was absolutely gorgeous! 19ºC (that’s 66ºF) in the afternoon. I left my apartment without a jacket, not even the light one I’ve been wearing instead of my parka! I’m very sorry if it isn’t yet spring wherever you live.
Cheesy Zucchini Rice
Slightly adapted from Buns in My Oven
- 1 T olive oil
- 1 cup long-grain rice
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 medium zucchini, grated
- 1 cup shredded cheese such as cheddar or Swiss
- salt and pepper to taste
- optional: 1-2 T butter
In a saucepan over medium heat, saute rice in olive oil until it begins to turn golden brown. Add the garlic and saute another 15-30 seconds, until the garlic is fragrant.
Add the vegetable broth and bring the pot to a boil. Turn the heat to low, place a lid on the pot, and simmer for about 15-20 minutes or until rice is tender and the liquid is dissolved. Try not to peek inside, as the steam does a lot of the work cooking the rice and lifting the lid releases the steam.
When the rice is done, remove from heat and stir in the cheese, grated zucchini, and the butter if using. Replace the lid on the pot and let sit for five minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.