Saturday, October 25, 2014

Roasted Summer Vegetable and Rice Casserole

I am sorry to be posting a totally delicious recipe that calls for summer vegetables at the end of October.  I have a bit of a backlog of recipes that I am working on catching up on.  And back when I made this in early September, you could still find fresh, sweet corn and ripe tomatoes at the farmer's market or grocery store, and basil was still growing in Heidi and Jeff's garden.  Now?  We are just a few days away from the worst stage of fall: when all the leaves are down and the trees are bare and everything is brown and gray and ugly.  You certainly aren't going to find delicious summer vegetables waiting to be devoured.  Hmph.

Here's the good news, though: when you roast a vegetable, even if it is the not-so-wonderful non-summer variety, you make it the best that it can be.  The way I see it, most summer vegetables are best eaten raw or prepared simply: raw salted tomato slices, or boiled corn on the cob with butter and salt.  For the rest of the year, most veggies need a little help to make them fabulous, and roasting is quite often the best way to do that.  It makes everything sweet and complex and glorious.

Now let's talk about the rest of the casserole: it's cheesy and tastes indulgent, but it isn't, really.  The secret ingredient is cottage cheese, which I promise you can't even taste or find in there if you aren't a fan.  It's not such a heavy casserole as some cheese and rice ones, and I could even go so far as to say it is healthy (brown rice, only 2/3 cup Romano cheese, lots of flavor from things like garlic and dijon mustard).  You can add shredded chicken - I obviously did not - but I am sure the carnivores would like that.  Mark and I loved it just the way it was - he had thirds, if I am remembering correctly.  There weren't many leftovers for the work week, but it does reheat well.

So go ahead, go buy mediocre zucchini and tomatoes.  Buy frozen corn!  Roasting them will make everything okay.  And adding cheese and rice really makes everything okay, or better than okay, for that matter.


roasted summer vegetable and rice casserole
from Elly Says Opa

2 medium zucchini, sliced into half-moons
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 cups cooked brown rice
2 cups cooked and shredded chicken (optional)
2/3 cup corn (cut from 1 - 2 ears or frozen)
2/3 cup Romano cheese, divided
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, divided
3 eggs
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 cup cottage cheese
2 cloves garlic, minced
a little milk or chicken broth (optional)


1) Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Spray a 2 1/2 quart baking dish with cooking oil.

2) On one rimmed baking dish, toss together the zucchini and red bell pepper with 1 tablespoon of oil and salt and pepper to taste.  On a second sheet, toss together the tomatoes, remaining 1/2 tablespoon of oil, and salt and pepper.  Roast the zucchini/ peppers for about 20 - 25 minutes and the tomatoes for about 15 minuets.  Turn the oven down to 350 degrees.

3) Allow the vegetables to cool for a little bit, and then dice the pepper stripes into bite-sized pieces, and place all the vegetables in a large mixing bowl.  To the bowl, add the rice, chicken, corn, and 2 tablespoons of the basil.

4) In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, Dijon, cottage cheese, garlic, half the Romano, and salt and pepper.  Pour the mixture oven the rice and vegetables, stirring to combine.  If you think it looks a little too dry, you can add a little broth or milk (it should not be runny).  Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and cover with a  lid or foil.  Bake for 15 minutes, remove the foil, and bake for an additional 15 minutes until cheese is golden brown.  Rest for 10 minutes before serving, and top with the remaining 2 tablespoons of basil.

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