Creamy Parmesan Zucchini and Rice Casserole | La Bella Vita Cucina

We planted only ONE zucchini plant and that thing is producing like it’s on crack!  

Seriously, it’s just insane!

But wow, do I ever know how to use it up in this recipe for Creamy Parmesan Zucchini and Rice Gratin!  This puppy uses up 3 POUNDS of shredded zucchini!  Call me crazy, maybe, but it shrinks down to about 2 cups after ‘salting-out’ the water in the shredded zucchini.  BRILLIANT!

Easy, creamy-cheesy yummy . . . and very company-worthy too!

Although this a side dish, it pairs perfectly with a mixed-greens salad for a wonderful meatless meal. That’s just fine for me, but Mr. Meat and Potatoes had to have a steak with it.  Everyone’s tummy was happy . . . and that’s what counts!  This gratin is also fabulous served with fish!

I’ve got 6 more medium-sized zucchini in my kitchen right now, so I’ll be over-dosing you with zucchini recipes for some time.  For those of you who are sending me your recipes, I’ll get to them and post them as more zucchini grow.

Trust me, there’s more coming!


So now, let’s get to the kitchen and have some fun!


Take 6 medium-sized zucchini and cut off both ends of each.  

With a box grater, shred the zucchini with the green skin left on. 

Shred all the way through until you get to the seeds and stop at that point because you don’t want the seeds in this dish.

Put the shredded zucchini in a medium or large mixing bowl.

Pour the salt over it and mix it in gently.

Allow to sit for 5 minutes.

Look at all of the water the salt process takes out!

Throw the salted water out after the zucchini sits.

Now we need to rinse the salt out of the zucchini.

Place the zucchini in a colander and 

Rinse the zucchini under cold running water

With a rubber spatula, gently press down to get the water out of the zucchini.

Look at how much more water is green and squeezed out!

Now you need to do it again!

Rinse . . . 

. . . and squeeze.

Then taste.

If there is a salty taste, then you need to rinse again.  I usually do this 3 times and no more.

After the rinse process is complete, place all of the zucchini on top of about 4 layers of strong paper towels.  I put a dinner plate underneath the paper towels.

Wrap the paper towels around the zucchini and shape into a ball.

Over a medium-sized bowl, squeeze all of the water out of the zucchini into the paper towels.  Get as much water out as you can.

Get a tall pot of water and bring it to a boil for the rice.

While the water boils, heat the butter in the saucepan.

When melted, add the onions and saute for about 5 minutes.

Add the minced garlic and saute for another two minutes.  Don’t let this stay on any high heat, or the garlic will burn.

Add the spinach to the onions and garlic and mix well.

Add the flour to the zucchini, onions, and garlic

Mix well

Add the cream and milk.  Or just cream.

Blend well

The water should be boiling now so add the rice and boil for HALF of the time indicated on the package.

Add the half-cooked rice to the pan with the zucchini mixture and blend well.

Add the cheeses to the zucchini mixture.

Also add 1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. of Italian Seasonings/Herbs

Butter the baking pan

place the zucchini mixture into the buttered pan.

Spread the mixture out nicely and bake for 20 minutes on 475 degrees F.

Check to see that it is not burning and just turning a nice golden brown.

Then cover it with aluminum foil and bake for another 10 – 15 minutes



creamy parmesan zucchini and rice gratin

cream and cheese oozing out of the zucchini and rice gratin

Creamy Parmesan Zucchini and Rice Graten

golden-brown cream and cheese top this delicious gratin




Creamy Parmesan Zucchini & Rice Graten


Here’s a comment left on my Facebook page about this recipe from Diane, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa (anonymity respected):

“I made this tonight and we all love it! It was absolutely delicious! I couldn’t believe how much water drained out with the salt from the zucchini and again after I rinsed it and redrained it on paper towels several times! We have two zucchini plants that are producing like crazy!  It was awesome!!! My daughter and I loved it and so did my husband who claims to not like zucchini!”


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Creamy Parmesan Zucchini and Rice Gratin

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 2 reviews
  • Author: Roz
  • Prep Time: 0 hours
  • Additional Time: 0 hours
  • Cook Time: 0 hours
  • Total Time: 0 hours


Units Scale


  • 3 pounds zucchini, shredded with skin left on
  • 3 tsp. salt
  • 4 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 11/2 cups onions, diced
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups already cooked arborio or jasmine white rice (measure after rice is cooked)
  • 3 Tbsp. flour
  • 2 cups whole milk (or 1 cup whole milk and 1 cup heavy cream)
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 2 cups grated 5-6 Italian Blend Cheese
  • 1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. Italian Seasonings/Herbs
  • 11/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 3 Tbsp. freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
  • butter, softened to prepare the baking dish


  1. Instructions
  2. Preheat oven to 425 (F).
  3. Wash the zucchini, removing any dirt from the skin.
  4. Cut off both ends of the zucchini, but leave skins on.
  5. Shred 3 pounds of zucchini, including the green skin.
  6. Stop shredding when you get to the middle where the seeds are; do not include the seeds in this recipe; discard/composte the seeds.
  7. Place the shredded zucchini a a medium mixing bowl.
  8. Mix in 3 teaspoons of salt into the shredded zucchini; mix well.
  9. Place salted zucchini shreds into a colander and place inside a large mixing bowl.
  10. Allow to sit for 5 minutes while the salt draws the water out of the shredded zucchini.
  11. Throw out the drained zucchini water in the bowl and press down on the zucchini in the colander to get out more water.
  12. Run clean, cold water over the shredded zucchini in the colander to get rid of any remaining salted water.
  13. Press down on the zucchini again to get out more water.
  14. Then take about 4 sheets of paper towels and place the zucchini on them and roll into a ball.
  15. Squeeze, squeeze, squeeze more water out . . . it will flow out of the paper towels.
  16. Place the zucchini to the side.
  17. Boil a medium pot of water.
  18. Add the rice and cook for only 5 minutes and no more.
  19. Drain the cooked rice and set aside.
  20. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and sauté the onions until very golden brown.
  21. Add the garlic to onions and sauté for another minute or two.
  22. Add the shredded zucchini and blend well into the onions and garlic.
  23. Cook for about 5 minutes.
  24. Add the flour and blend well into the zucchini, onions and garlic.
  25. Warm the milk and/or cream.
  26. Pour the milk and/or cream into the zucchini, onions and garlic and mix well.
  27. On moderate to hot heat, bring the creamy mixture to a simmering heat.
  28. Add the rice.
  29. Add the cheeses.
  30. Add the Italian seasonings/herbs
  31. Taste, taste, taste!
  32. Add 1-½ teaspoon of salt and 1 tsp. black pepper.
  33. With soft butter, prepare a gratin baking dish.
  34. Pour the cream-cheese-zucchini mixture into the baking dish.
  35. Sprinkle 3 Tbsp. freshly-grated Parmesan cheese on top.
  36. Bake for 15 minutes on the lowest rack in the oven.
  37. Check on it.
  38. At this point, place a sheet of aluminum foil on top after the top is golden brown (you don’t want it to burn, but just get to the golden-brown point).
  39. Continue to bake for 10 – 15 more minutes.
  40. Serve immediately.



And in case you missed it, here’s the recipe for the best damn Zucchini Cake on the planet!

I kid you not!

Cinnamon-y Zucchini Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

zucchini cake
and last, but not least, here is one more excellent recipe to use zucchini in an entree:

Rice Stuffed Zucchini with Bolognese Sauce

stuffed zucchini