Zuchinni and Carrot Gratin

Gluten and nut free.  To make dairy free, omit the cheese.  I am really on a roll trying to get more vegetables into my kids this year. They have some vegetables that they really love (carrots, tomatoes, corn, peas, potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower) and some they really don’t (yellow squash, zuchinni, spaghetti squash, mustard greens, lettuce(!!), spinach and many others). So I’m working on ways to blend favorite vegetables with non-favorites to help develop their taste buds. It has been said that a child needs to try a food between 10 and 20 times to really develop a taste for it. So I keep on trying!

My daughter loves rice and cheese, so I also figured that adding these to the mix would increase the chances of this recipe going over well. The verdict? My husband and I LOVED it, but my daughter and her friend were “so-so”. Elena said, “I’d eat it if there was nothing else.” Maybe that is a good tactic for getting our kids to try new foods!

For this recipe, I relied on my time-saving rice cooker and slow cooker to make everything so easy. Here is what I did in the morning while we were all eating breakfast:
-I chopped up the carrots (1 lb bag of baby carrots—that was what was on sale) and the zucchini (about 4 small) and put them in the slow cooker on high, with a little olive oil so that they would sautee a bit

-Once breakfast was over and we were about to leave the house, I threw in some canned diced tomatoes (15 oz can) and some Italian Seasoning (1 teaspoon); I turned down the slow cooker to “low”
-I also measured out the brown rice and water (1.5 cups of rinsed rice and 3 cups of water) and put them in the rice cooker to soak. That way, when we got home later I could just press down the button to cook it, no effort required.
-we went skiing for the day
-when we got back, the house smelled very yummy and Italian! I peeked in the slow cooker and it looked great!

-I flipped the switch on the rice cooker (remember, the rice had been soaking in there all day) while I took a shower
-right before dinner, I added the rice to the slow cooker along with some fresh basil (just a handful from a plant we have in the kitchen) and sprinkled in some asiago cheese. I switched the slow cooker to “warm” since I didn’t know how long it would take to get the kids to the table. Here is how it turned out (this picture shows the dish without the cheese).

My hubby loves shrimp, and this dish needs some protein.  So this is how I plated it:

We (the adults) thougth it was quite delicious, the kids were “OK”.  Then our wonderful neighbors ended up coming over and, since the dish was nice and warm in the slow cooker, we were happy to serve our unexpected yet very welcome guests. They gave it the thumbs up!

Here is a complete list for shopping for this recipe:
Rice cooker
Slow cooker
Zuchinni (4 small/medium)
Carrots (1 pound)
1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes (fire roasted flavor if you like)
Italian seasoning (1 teaspoon)
Basil (a handful)
Asiago cheese (get a tub and add as much as you like)
Brown rice- 1.5 cups

Optional: onions, garlic, and additional spices –you would throw these in with the zuchinni and carrots if your kids like them
Optional: chicken, shrimp


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