Monday, 29 September 2008

Easy, Yummy Vegetable and Rice Casserole

We have all been really busy lately so I’ve needed what I call “flexible dinners”. They are very easy to put together, and they “hold” fairly well in the oven if someone is late. This is one of my favourites that I’ve been making for years. It’s another variation on an old Campbell’s soup recipe, but I’ve made some pretty big changes. To start with, it is pretty much vegetarian! I also use more liquid as I like a bit of a softer “bite” to my rice. On the whole, my version is pretty much foolproof, just make sure you use long grain rice. And be flexible with the milk – you may need to add more. Oh, and obviously you can play around with the vegetables, these are just ones I like to use.

(In the UK, Campbell’s soup has been re-branded and is produced under license by Bachelor’s – for more details, click here. It does taste the same, but I miss the iconic can, and the Campbell’s brand. It may say “Bachelor’s” on the tin over here, but I still call it Campbell’s and I always will!)

The 21st Century Housewife’s
Easy Vegetable and Rice Casserole
Serves 4

1½ cups long grain rice
2 – 2 ½ cups milk (you may need a little more than this)
1 can of condensed soup – I like Campbell’s Cream of Asparagus or Cream of Mushroom
1 small head of broccoli, cut in tiny florets
1 red pepper, de-seeded and chopped
1 courgette (zucchini), sliced in half moon shapes
(cut the courgette in half longways, and then cut the two halves in slices)
½ cup mushrooms, sliced (optional)
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried tarragon
½ teaspoon ground pepper
1 bunch spring onions (scallions), finely sliced
1 handful of grated parmesan cheese

In a large covered casserole, combine the uncooked rice, soup, 2 cups milk, all of the vegetables (except the spring onions), the herbs and the pepper. Stir to mix thoroughly, then cover and place in the oven at 350ºF or about 160ºC. Cook for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven carefully and place on a heat proof surface.

Add the cheese and spring onions, and if the rice has absorbed all the liquid, add about another half cup of milk (be flexible on this, you can always add more, you can’t take it away!). Stir again and return to the oven for 15 to 30 minutes, until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender. (Remember, if you need to, you can add more milk and return the casserole to the oven for a few minutes so it can absorb.)

Serve with a green salad and/or crusty bread.

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