I am shamelessly stealing the ‘will they eat it’ idea from Andrea here because 1) it’s a great idea for a blog post and 2) who doesn’t constantly think and worry about dinner? And what’s more, is the effort of making dinner going to be appreciated, and actually eaten, by the minions in your house?
Yesterday’s dilemma was this:
- both kids had an activity at 5:30
- only one parent was available to drive them (me, aka ‘the cook’)
- neither kid wanted to eat at 4:30 which meant dinner at 7 pm, at which point I wanted to eat not start cooking
What’s easy and quickly reheat-able?
When you think casseroles, chances are you think pasta. Those are quick to make and prepare ahead of time, easy to freeze and pop into the oven at a moment’s notice, versatile with a variety of ingredients, simple to reheat if need be, and often leave some for thermos school lunches the next day.
Most people like, even love, pasta dishes. Right?
Except. The adults in this house don’t want to eat pasta four times a week, despite what the kids might say to that.
So I invented a rice casserole. Actually, I invented two.
But first, I picked the brains of two friends, one of whom has a blog and talks about food. The other has a brand new kitchen and cooks much like me, and often temps me with photos of her own creative masterpieces.
With their help, I came up with these two rice casseroles:
Looks appetizing, right?
But the big question is: Did they eat it?
Well, you tell me…
Surprisingly (to me), it was a great success despite my 7th grader complaining he already had rice for lunch at school. He is neither a rice, nor a potato fan (but would eat pasta every day if I let him).
Well my boy ate two plates. Ha!
I will make these, or similar versions, again. BTW, my worry that the rice would get too soggy was futile. I used two types of rice and precooked it first before assembling the rest of the ingredients. The baking was more of a re-heat function than a cook function, and served to melt the cheese I sprinkled on top.
But I did learn a few things:
- I used a whole grain rice, and Arborio (the type used for risottos). They hold their shape better than, say, Basmati or Jasmin, which I probably would not use for casserole making. I used a wild rice mix from Costco (Lundberg wild rice blend) for one dish, and the Italian Arborio for the other.
- My family prefers their cooked vegetables slightly crunchy (i.e. steamed or almost raw), so I used fresh cauliflower and green beans instead of frozen. Broccoli would probably suit well here, too.
- Cheese can be added or omitted, but I would probably not drench the casserole with it. I used a hard cheese (grated Asiago) and a firm, old cheddar, not mozzarella which would suit a pasta meal better in my opinion.
- For protein I used turkey breasts pre-cooked in a bit of white wine and with lots of healthy turmeric (and the usual onions and garlic). Plus bacon. Bacon almost always converts a kid to like a dish. 🙂 (Chicken, or even stewed beef, could be a nice addition as well.)
- I may experiment with Asian flavours next time, or perhaps switch up the grain to Quinoa or Bulgar.
My original plan was to freeze one of the casseroles, but I ended up making both and leaving them in the turned off, but still warm, oven. It was good I made both, the family was starving!
I have no idea if rice like this freezes well, so feel free to chime in with your experience.
What do you think? Would you make a casserole with rice, like these?