Courgette, tomato and cheese gratin, 33p (MICROWAVE) (VEGETARIAN)

Simple cheesy yummy goodness....

Simple cheesy yummy goodness….

This recipe from my microwave series is based on a recipe from my book, A Girl Called Jack, that I see popping up on my Twitter feed and Facebook pages time and time again – it seems to be a definite favourite among my lovely readers! And so, I wondered if it was possible to make a portable microwave version, either for busy evenings, energy saving cooking, or even to pop into a jar in your work bag to stave off the boredom of yet another soggy cheese sandwich or expensive takeaway lunch.

The microwave version has fewer ingredients than the original, oven-bake recipe – trying to keep it simple. I’ll also confess that I’ve made it with a few different rices as an experiment; although the simple basic 45p-a-kilo white rice will always be my go-to budget staple, this dish IS delicious with nutty brown rice too, if it’s the kind of thing you keep in the cupboard, and if not then don’t worry about it.

Serves 1 at 33p*

75g rice, 3p
50g courgette, 9p
100g chopped tomatoes, 9p
200ml water
1/2 vegetable stock cube (or chicken if you aren’t a vegetarian for a sweeter, yummy flavour), 1p
a pinch of something green – I used parsley, but basil, coriander, thyme, rosemary, or even leftover chopped spinach would be super yummy – dishes like this are an idea place to smuggle the stalks of fresh herbs, very finely chopped, they have bags of flavour so don’t automatically throw them away! – optional
10g hard strong cheese, grated, 11p

Weigh the rice into a microwave-proof jug or container – nothing metal, remember!

Very finely chop the courgette – I did mine with a julienne peeler that my gorgeous friend Rena gave me as a present, it’s great for finely chopping vegetables but it bites, I bear many many tiny cuts on my fingers from this vicious little monkey. You can use an ordinary vegetable peeler to cut your courgette into ribbons, then stack them and finely slice them for the same effect, probably saving the skin on your fingers too. Any which way, you want teeny tiny pieces of courgette for this.

Finely mince a small garlic clove and add it to the mix – if the thought of a whole clove of garlic makes you nervous, add a little of it and pop the rest in a tiny jar or corner of an ice cube tray to freeze. If the thought of chopping one pesky clove of garlic makes your eyes roll to the back of your head, you can ping it in the microwave in its skin for 3 x 10 second bursts, then squeeze the cooked garlic pulp out – good to know, not so good if your microwave is in a corner of an office full of people who may not appreciate the garlic fumes wafting their way from the microwave vents.

Pour over your chopped tomatoes, water, and crumble in half a stock cube. Stir it all really well, then cover with a saucer or some clingfilm. If clingfilm, pierce a couple of small holes in it. If you’re using a saucer, don’t try to make holes in it. 🙂
Cook on full power for 3 minutes, then leave to stand for 1. Stir well and repeat: full power for 3 minutes, stand for 1. The rice should be cooked through, but not all rice is created equal (nor microwaves for that matter) so if it’s not quite soft and fluffy, repeat once more.

Tip into your eating-receptacle of choice (mine is a mug), top with cheese, ping for 30 more seconds just to get the cheese all melty and a bit ‘grilled’, and devour.

The original courgette, tomato and cheese gratin recipe can be found here:

I costed this recipe based on my most recent shopping expedition to Sainsburys, because it’s the closest supermarket to me. Prices correct at the time of blogging: Basics white rice 45p/1kg. Basics Courgettes £1.80/kg (they seem to have come back, hurrah!) Basics chopped tomatoes 35p/400g. Basics garlic 35p/2 bulbs. Basics stock cubes 25p/10. Basics hard Italian cheese £2.30/200g.

Jack Monroe. I’m on Twitter and Instagram at @MsJackMonroe and Facebook at

If you like my recipes, there’s two whole books of ‘em too, available to buy from lots of great places but my favourite is Hive, supporting independent book shops and retailers (and they deliver, too!). Check them out here:


  1. That sounds fantastic. It sounds perfect for tea (what us Northerners call our evening meal) with grilled fish, chicken or a pork chop. It would be great with a handful of cooked seafood stirred in at the end too. A pinch of smoked paprika might work too.

  2. Will definitely try this version – the original from A Girl Called Jack is a favourite & featured at our Boxing Day and New Year’s Day extended family meals.

  3. Microwave-baked garlic – how clever! I’ve always wanted a quick version of roasted garlic….

    The best way to shred courgette is with an ordinary box grater. The single diagonal blade gives you the thinnest possible slices and I suspect that ribbons would result from using the coarsest grating side – but I haven’t tried that yet!

  4. This is brilliant! We need a microwave cookery book from you. Some of us (I hope a great many of us) have your 2 cookery books already, and these microwave recipes are excellent

  5. Grating the courgettte works for us, and we’ve substituted carrots successfully when no courgettes around. I’ve also used leftover cold roasted veg – and added bits of shredded cooked chicken when i’ve had any left. My teenagers scoff this almost daily – its as easy as making porridge and twice as nice for lunch.

  6. I think I’m doing something wrong. Is this uncooked rice? I have had mine in for 5 lots of 3 mins and its still no where near cooked

  7. Cooking with microwave is not in my habits but it’s true it’s so useful!I’ve used semolina couscous instead of rice and it was successful.

  8. I just tried it and, my, it is delicious! I used brown rice and we had some leftover parmesan. It was just so tasty considering the humble ingredients (and sorry state of the courgette I used). Hats off to you Jack!

    PS I don’t normally even like courgettes.

  9. I’m so excited by this. I try to cook healthy meals but being not very well I often don’t have the energy to sort out food at all – but I almost always have these ingredients in, and this is so simple. Looks like you could sub lots of the ingredients for other things, too – mine is currently in the microwave with lidl passata instead of chopped tomatoes because that’s what I had.

    May be a breakfast option for me. I love a hot, savoury breakfast (often can’t stomach cold or sweet food in the morning) and this will hopefully mean I don’t skip.

    Keep the microwave recipes coming!

Leave a Reply