I first had this casserole when my friend Becky and I exchanged leftovers once. A humble-sounding casserole of kale and rice tasted so delicious. It was creamy, slightly spicy, cheesy, and crunchy. The crunchiness came from sunflower seeds, which I left out this time because I didn’t want to buy them. Becky also substituted kale, which was a delicious riff on the original recipe calling for spinach.
I checked out Mollie Katzen’s iconic cookbook, the New Moosewood Cookbook, from the library and found the recipe for the casserole Becky shared with me. And I made it. And it was good. There is something about this time of year – fall – that makes me want to eat hearty, warm food, like casseroles and stews. This is a great cool-weather dish.
You could also make the brown rice ahead of time to cut down on the prep time.
“Spinach-Rice Casserole,” from The New Moosewood Cookbook, by Mollie Katzen
2 c. uncooked brown rice
1 T. butter or olive oil
2 c. minced onion (about one large onion)
1 lb. fresh spinach (the recipe calls for 2 lbs, but I didn’t want to pay that much for prepackaged spinach)
1 t. salt
4 to 5 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. cayenne
1 to 2 t. yellow mustard
2 beaten eggs
1 c. milk
1 c. grated cheddar
Fill a medium saucepan with 3 c. of water. Add the rice, cover, and bring to a boil. Then lower the temperature and let the rice simmer gently. Cook, covered, undisturbed for 35 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl. Fluff the rice with a fork.
Preheat oven to 350 and oil a 9 x 13-in. baking pan.
Heat the butter in a large skillet. Add onion and saute 5 to 8 minutes until soft. Add spinach, salt, and garlic and cook another 5 minutes. Do not let the garlic burn.
Add to the rice along with the cayenne, nutmeg, and pepper. Mix well.
Beat together the eggs and milk and stir into rice mixture along with cheese. Spread into the pan and sprinkle with paprika.
Bake, uncovered for 35 to 40 minutes until heated through and browned on top.