Monday, April 20, 2009

Oldie But Goodie Casserole

It is very interesting that newspapers and magazines are flooded with tips on ways to get through these tough economic times. I guess no one in the media knew a year ago that there were plenty of people going through economic hard took the loss of income by upper middle class folks when the stock market took a dive to alert them.

The good news is that I've been there, done that, and have the scars to prove it. The mid '70s were difficult ones for me. I was laid off at a retail store...not enough sales...sound familiar? I did temp work, odd jobs, street vendor sales at Christmas, sewed my own Christmas gifts by hand because the sewing machine was broken and there was no spare money to fix it. When I went to the grocery store I added up each item in my shopping cart and returned the least needed items to the shelves until I had the amount of groceries that I could pay for with the cash in my pocket. I was young and had no expectation that I should be living a cushy life yet, so it really wasn't bad, but you do learn how to be frugal while having fun.
In ancient times, right around 1978, since we were experiencing a similar shortage of cash as many folks today, we turned to recipes that were less expensive to cook. The cookbook Moosewood Cookbook by the lovely and artistic Mollie Katzen had just been published and going vegetarian was one way of eating more healthfully and frugally at the same time. Her illustrations were wonderful. Everything was done by hand, then turned into a book. How appropriate.
One of my favorite recipes from the book can be made even healthier these days by using low fat cheese and egg substitute, although that costs a little more than with plain eggs and regular cheese. You could cut the amount of cheese, too . Even though fresh spinach is delightful, there was a sale the other day on frozen spinach, so I used that for this recipe. It needed to be defrosted and drained, but was then perfect for this dish.
I cooked the brown rice about an hour before I put the casserole together. You can also use leftover rice. The brown rice has lots of nutrients and I like the chewiness it gives this dish.

You can use this as a side dish, a main dish if you have a big salad on the side, or even for brunch. If you added some crumbled bacon or turkey bacon or veggie bacon bits to it, it is super brunch food.

Hope that you are experiencing enough prosperity that you can make this dish just because it appeals to you!

Spinach-Rice Casserolebased on a recipe from Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen, 1977

2 cloves minced garlic
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt (More, to taste)
3 tablespoons butter (I used 2 tablespoons olive oil)
2 lbs. raw, chopped spinach
4 cups cooked brown rice
4 beaten eggs (I used the equivalent amount of egg substitute)
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 tablespoons tamari (optional)
a few dashes each - nutmeg, cayenne
1/4 cup sunflower seeds

Saute' onions and garlic with the salt in butter (or oil). When onions are soft, add spinach. Cook 2 minutes. (Alternately, thaw and drain a 10 oz box frozen chopped spinach. Add to onion mixture, but don't cook any further.)
Combine the onion mixture with the brown rice, eggs, milk, cheese, parsley, tamari, nutmeg, cayenne. Spread into buttered casserole and sprinkle sunflower seeds, paprika on top.
Bake, covered, 25 minutes at 350 degrees F. Uncover and bake 10 more minutes.

Serves 4 - 6


  1. That is just about my most favorite recipe from that cookbook!

    I think it is funny too that all the sudden there are these articles on cooking at home, living on your pantry, etc when we know some of us have been doing that for a lot longer than the past few months.

  2. That sounds great! I love spinach and I'm always looking for new recipes. And your recipe sounds very interesting.

  3. That sounds great! I love spinach and I'm always looking for new recipes. And your recipe sounds very interesting.

  4. This looks lovely! I've made something similar before with Spinach, tomatoes and some chicken. Love the post too and I just hate it when times get tough.. Its happening all over the world now too which is really sad.

  5. Wow, this is a Moosewood casserole!? This is Primo #1 Church Potluck Comfort Food right here.


  6. I know those days. I call them the good old days, when we had nothing and had it all. When I'd buy groceries for $20, fill 6 cardboard boxes and they delivered because I had no car.
    This is one of my favorite old cook books.

  7. Never had this one but I bet it's great! My mom always did chicken and rice.

  8. LOVE the crust with sunflower seeds. looks great!

  9. Sounds like a great dish.

    I did live frugally as a student but more along the lines of frozen pizza than casseroles spiced with tamari, nutmeg and fresh parsley. Why don't they tell you about useful things like this Moosewood book in high school? *sigh*

  10. Sounds delicious - how many onions? Diced? I think that part is missing from the ingredient list...

  11. Daisy, You are right! I left the onions out of the ingredient list. It should read: one large onion, chopped. I usually use yellow onion but you could use white or red onion, but not a sweet onion. Hope that helps! XO Elle

  12. Thanks! I'm going to make this tonight.

  13. Anonymous1:07 PM

    You forgot to list the onions & amount in the list of ingredients. And those Su flower seeds? NOT mixed in with the rest of mixture but reserved to sprinkle on top? Otherwise, sounds good!

  14. Thanks for the edit. Have fixed the errors (I think) and changed the order of ingredients to match the directions. Great save.

  15. This is an old favorite. I have used the Moosewood cookbook since ~1980. Thanks for revisiting this.