Rice and Kale Casserole

We had our week of summer and now it’s casserole weather! I have mixed feelings about casseroles. When they’re based on cream-of-whatever soup I definitely am not a fan. When they have rice and vegetables and just the right amount of cheese, though, I love them.

It’s also perfect running weather. Well, I guess around here it is year round, but it’s especially nice running along the ocean right now.

I’m happy to report that I’ve been sticking with my running every other day plan and it’s going really well. I also started doing some pilates and 30 Day Shred on my non-running days.

And of course it’s pumpkin weather. Mike made fun of me for buying 3 huge cans of pumpkin (“Uh, you think you got enough pumpkin?”), but definitely doesn’t seem to mind pumpkin oats for breakfast, pumpkin cookies, or these pumpkin spice latte cupcakes.

Yes, they’re every bit as amazing as my favorite fall beverage.

OK, about the casserole. I used brown rice, which I cook in big batches and keep in the fridge so I can make fried rice whenever the mood strikes. It was great, but I think barley or farro would also work really well. I used dinosaur kale instead of the spinach the recipe called for, and loved it. I also switched out cheddar cheese for Swiss, but I’m sure both would be great. I also loved how the sprinkling of sunflower seeds gives it a nice, healthy crunch.

(adapted from The New Moosewood Cookbook)

3 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
1 tbsp butter
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 medium bunch dinosaur kale, stemmed and chopped (around 3 cups)
1 tsp salt
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 tsp mustard
1/2 cup sunflower seeds, divided
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup milk
1 cup grated Swiss cheese, divided

Preheat the oven to 350 F and grease a 2 1/2 quart casserole dish or 13 x 9 pan.

Heat the butter in a deep skillet.  Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 6 minutes, or until the onion is soft.  Add the kale, salt and garlic and cook another 6-8 minutes, until kale is wilted and tender.

Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the rice, nutmeg, cayenne, mustard, half the sunflower seeds, eggs, milk, and half the cheese.  Mix well, then pour into casserole dish.

Top with remaining cheese and sunflower seeds.  Bake for about 35 minutes, until beginning to brown on top.

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