Monday, March 27, 2023

Fan Favorite Oldie But Goodie

The photos don't do this dish all. Trust me when I say that this recipe will become one of your favorites, just like it's a favorite of others stopping by this blog.

I first posted about this casserole in the spring of 2009. A lot of life has happened since then, but the recipe has been a continually searched one over the years. I first made it even longer ago than 2009, maybe even before my kids were born. It's from a delightful and unusual cookbook called the Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen. Unusual because the recipes were written by hand and the illustrations were done by photographs, no type to speak of, just warm and welcoming recipes with lots of them vegetarian, many of them celebrating cultures other than U.S.A. cultures, and ones that became favorites, like this one. Delightful because you will likely keep finding another recipe you want to try as you make your way through the book. It was first published in 1977. If you don't find it at Powell's Books (a Portland, Oregon bookstore that has a lot of used books of all kinds), then check Amazon or your local library, used book store, etc. It's a great cookbook to have on your shelf.

This recipe, Spinach-Rice Casserole, has brown rice with it's nutty flavor, spinach, cheddar cheese, eggs and milk, and some seasonings. Don't skip the sunflower seeds on top...they not only taste great and add texture, but their fragrance mingles with the other ingredients to make your kitchen smell cozy and welcoming. Perhaps the best part is that you will likely have leftovers...and they are even better than the first night. I just returned from four days in Phoenix, visiting family, and Sweetie ate leftover Spinach-Rice Casserole the first two nights I was gone. I think he would have eaten it the next two nights, but it was all gone.

Cook the brown rice first because brown rice takes a little longer than white rice. While it's cooking you chop the onion and mince the garlic and grate the cheese. I use frozen spinach that is already just needs thawing and then squeezing the thawed spinach to get out the excess liquid. Eggs get whisked, milk added, and parsley chopped. Then you sauté the onion and garlic, add almost all of the rest of the ingredients and stir them together, add the rice and combine everything so that it can be turned out into a buttered casserole dish. After a sprinkle of both sunflower seeds and paprika, the casserole gets covered, baked, uncovered, baked some more, than cooled just enough that it doesn't burn your mouth. Feast on a soft and gloriously flavored casserole with a bit of crunch from the sunflowers. You'll be glad you took the time to bake this dish. So will friends and/or family because this make a good sized casserole (about 9 x 13-inches) that can feed quite a few lucky folks.

Spinach-Rice Casserole, based 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 or, as I did, use 1 package frozen, chopped spinach, thawed
4 cups cooked brown rice
4 beaten eggs 
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 and then paprika on top.
Bake, covered, 25 minutes at 350 degrees F. Uncover and bake 10 more minutes.

Serves 4 - 6

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