Friday, July 28, 2017

Green Greens Rice Casserole (+ more summer)

Today, this glorious mild and cloud-blue day, we have thwarted the skinny repeal bill, thank god, because it sounded like the lamest-ever milkshake flavor, and one that was going to have serious and terrible health consequences. So huzzah for us! Now if we can just keep them from going after our beloved queers. To that end, I wrote this, over at the anti-hate news project 500 Pens. Sigh.

Meanwhile, how is summer half over? Oh, maybe I know. 

Plus full-on gaming. And reading, reading, reading. (Also, read this, if you haven’t yet. It’s crazily good.) For car trips (especially ones to Cape Cod), try listening to this, assuming nobody in your family has a "problem" with, spoiler alert, cannibalism. We found it incredibly diverting.

I've also been busy not cooking

I dressed very thinly sliced raw summer squash with lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and slivered cilantro. Calling it "Zucchini Ceviche" didn't really entice anybody else into loving it, but I couldn't believe how sweet and wonderful it was. 
and cooking. It’s been a little cooler lately, so we’ve been making a humble old favorite of ours (minus Ben, for whom this is something of an edible chore), which is this very cheesy and comforting brown-rice casserole. It’s one of my favorite ways to use a vast assortment of greens and odds and ends of good cheese (or even mediocre cheese). Plus, you can add whatever else you like to it! I just made one where I added diced zucchini and two ears’ worth of corn kernels, which I sautéed together before stirring them into the rice. I loved the bursts of sweetness from the corn, and the tender earnestness of the squash. I also confess to having used about 2 cups of cheese, including blue cheese crumbles and the wonderful Unexpected Cheddar from Trader Joe’s. Yum.

I hope you are thriving, my darlings, and enjoying everything you could possible be enjoying right now. xo

Green Greens Rice Casserole
Serves 6

This is an incredibly versatile recipe. You can add diced, sautéed corn and summer squash, if you like, or beets and their greens, or whatever else seems like it would be good. Also, there is no magic to this particular assortment of dairy! I just made it with sour cream instead of cottage cheese, and it was delicious. Plus, you can skip the cream cheese and it’s still good—maybe just add another egg to keep it all nice and moist! I didn’t write the recipe this way, but often (because I’m lazy and I like the greens to be chopped fine, but I don’t like chopping them fine), I will sauté the onions and greens, and then put it in the blender with the rest of the ingredients (not the rice and cheese and extra diced veggies, if using) and blend, then stir this into the rice with the cheese and other veggies.

6 cups freshly cooked short-grain brown rice (made from 3 cups raw)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt (or half as much table salt)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 large bunch of greens (spinach, kale, chard, etc.), washed, thick ribs removed, and chopped
4-ounces of cream cheese (a whole small packet, or half of a regular one)
3 eggs
1/2 cup cottage cheese
1 (or more) packed cup(s) grated cheese (Monterey Jack and/or cheddar is perfect for this, but adding some blue cheese and/or parmesan makes it all the cheesier…)
Juice from 1/2 a lemon
1 tablespoon-1/2 cup chopped fresh herbs, such as dill, mint, basil, or cilantro

Heat the oven to 350 and cook the rice. While the rice is cooking, heat the olive oil in a wide pan over medium-low heat and sauté the onion with the salt until it's soft, translucent, and starting to brown (around 10 minutes). Add the garlic and sauté for another minute until it's fragrant, then add the greens and cook, stirring, until the greens are wilted and tender, anywhere from 2 to 10 minutes, depending on the greens (if the mixture threatens to dry out, add a couple tablespoons of water and let it steam, covered, for a few minutes).

Turn the heat off, and stir in the cream cheese, cut into chunks, until it is mostly melted. Now stir in the rice (if your pan isn't huge, you may need to move the whole thing to a large mixing bowl), and then the eggs, which you've beaten with the cottage cheese, and, finally, the grated cheese. (See headnote for another way to do this.) Add a few squeezes of lemon juice, and the herbs, if you're using them. Now put a spoonful of the mixture on a plate and microwave for a few seconds, then taste: add more salt, lemon, and/or herbs if it doesn't seem fully flavored. (I taste it raw, but this is not a recommended practice).

Bake the rice mixture in a greased casserole dish, covered with a lid or foil, for 25 minutes, and then uncovered for another 10 until it is nice and gold on top.