1. Set the oven to 170 degrees.
2. Top and tail the courgettes, then grate coarsely. Put them straight into a frying pan with half the butter and sauté for around 4 minutes or so until softened but maintaining their colour.
3. Melt the remaining butter over a medium heat, then add the flour and stir well, until it forms a smooth paste (1-2 minutes). Add the warmed milk, a bit at a time, stirring continuously, until you have a smooth béchamel sauce. Season well and grate in some fresh nutmeg before adding the courgettes. Set aside until required.
4. Meanwhile, bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the rice until just al dente - slightly underdone as it will continue to cook in the oven.
5. Drain the rice, then mix together with the béchamel & courgettes.
6. Lightly butter a 20cm x 5cm gratin dish, then pour in the mixture. You can set the dish aside at this stage until you are ready to cook it.
8. Before placing in the oven, sprinkle over the parmesan and dot cubes of butter on top. Bake for 15-20 minutes (or 30 if cooking from cold) until the top is golden and bubbly. Delicious with any meat you care to choose or on its own with a glass of red.
Courgette & Rice Gratin
500ml whole milk
3tbsp parmesan or gruyère
4tbsp rice (I use American long grain)
Salt, Pepper & Nutmeg to season
A little extra butter to finish the dish (naturally...)
A long time favourite recipe of mine from Elizabeth David's An Omelette & A Glass of Wine