Courgette, tomato and cheese gratin, 33p (MICROWAVE) (VEGETARIAN)
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
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: http://agirlcalledjack.com/2014/09/01/courgette-tomato-and-brie-gratin-26p/
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.
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: http://www.hive.co.uk/book/a-girl-called-jack-100-delicious-budget-recipes/18105011/