So, with the rain and the overeating that’s going on lately, last night I thought I’d make up a nice healthy casserole to last me a few days. Like most one-dish meals (though this takes a number of pots and pans to cook), you can throw in plenty of extra vegetables. I added in spinach this time, personally. For those of you who are vegetarian, you can also easily skip the turkey in this recipe, or use a soy sausage substitute.
Ok, preheat the oven to 375. Then, cut up all of your veggies. In this case, we have zucchini, bell peppers, onions, frozen (but thawed) spinach, ditto that on corn, and some red jalapenos. I ran them all through the julienne attachment on the food processor, but you can cut them however you like.
Ok, now that your vegetables are all cut, bring the chicken stock to a simmer in a small stockpot, and put your rice, zucchini, bell peppers, onions, and salt in a 9×13 baking dish. Stir the hot broth into it all, making sure to mix the rice up good.
Cover the baking dish with foil and put it in the oven. You’ll bake it covered for 45 minutes, then uncover it and bake it another 35-45 minutes until most of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender.
While that cooks, heat some olive oil in a large skillet and cook your sausage, breaking it up into small pieces with a spoon, until it’s all cooked and won’t kill you when you eat it.
Remove the sausage from the pan (I put it into the stockpot the chicken stock simmered in, since it was already dirty), and whisk flour into the skillet, scraping up all the tasty browned sausage bits.
Then whisk in milk and cook over medium heat until it’s thick, in 3-4 minutes. Make sure to keep stirring so it doesn’t burn.
Reduce heat to low, then add 3/4 of your grated cheese (you need to save some for a topping), plus the corn. raw jalapenos, and spinach, stirring until it’s all melted. Then set it aside and wait for the rice/zucchini mixture to be done.
When your rice is cooked, stir the sauce and the sausage into it, making sure to mix it all thoroughly.
Top with the remaining grated cheese, then put small dollops (about a teaspoon size each) of cream cheese on top.
Then bake another 10 minutes to melt everything, and you’re done!
Zucchini Rice Casserole
Adapted from Eating Well
1 1/2 cups long-grain brown rice
3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
4 cups diced zucchini , and/or summer squash (about 1 pound)
2 red or green bell peppers, chopped
1 large onion, diced
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups low-fat milk
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups shredded pepper Jack cheese, divided
1 cup fresh or frozen (thawed) corn kernels
1 cup frozen (thawed) spinach
3 jalapenos, diced and de-seeded if you wish
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
8 ounces turkey sausage, casings removed
4 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese , (Neufchâtel)
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Pour rice into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Bring broth to a simmer in a small saucepan. Stir hot broth into the rice along with zucchini (and/or squash), bell peppers, onion and salt. Cover with foil. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking until the rice is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed, 35 to 45 minutes more.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add sausage. Cook, stirring and breaking the sausage into small pieces with a spoon, until lightly browned and no longer pink, about 4 minutes. Remove sausage from pan and set aside.
Whisk flour into skillet., scraping up browned sausage bits, then stir in milk. Cook over medium heat until bubbling and thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Add 1 1/2 cups Jack cheese and corn, spinach, and jalapenos and cook, stirring, until the cheese is melted. Set aside.
When the rice is done, stir in the sausage and cheese sauce. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup Jack cheese on top and dollop cream cheese by the teaspoonful over the casserole. Top with jalapeños.
Return the casserole to the oven and bake until the cheese is melted, about 10 minutes. Let stand for about 10 minutes before serving.