Thursday, October 13, 2011

Zucchini rice casserole

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I was lamenting on the In Erika's Kitchen Facebook page the other day that I can't seem to take a good casserole picture. I finally figured out the two main problems.

The first is a timing issue. In general, I make casseroles for dinner. How much natural light do I get in my kitchen at dinnertime? Not much. Are the overhead lights a necessity? Yep. So my photos end up like the one above: dark and yellow, with weird bright reflective spots. I can Photoshop with the best of them, but I can't do much with pictures like this.

The second is a texture issue. Casseroles mostly look like mush, with few distinct ingredients. Also, notice the similarity between the texture of the zucchini rice casserole above and the granite countertop on which it's sitting. Not much contrast.

I'd like to think that there's a third issue involving ugly baking pans, requiring me to buy some beautiful new casserole dishes, but alas, I don't think that's actually part of the problem.

This is one of the best recipes I know for using up leftover cooked rice. I mix it in a big bowl with shredded zucchini, chopped green onions, grated cheese and some kind of cream sauce for a binder.

Yes, sometimes I go for the canned cream of mushroom or cream of chicken stuff. So sue me. When I have time (or I'm out of the cans) I prefer to take a few minutes to make a roux and add some milk, season it with salt and pepper, and use that to bind the casserole. Bake for about 45 minutes and you've got a warm, cheesy, salty, vegetable-filled dish that everyone will love. Even if the pictures look like crap.



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Zucchini rice casserole
This is the perfect way to use up leftover cooked rice. Use any cheese you like - I often grate up odds and ends and mix them up for this casserole.
Ingredients
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups leftover cooked rice (white or brown)
  • 1 pound zucchini, grated (2 large or 5 small)
  • 1 1/2 cups grated cheese (any kind - try cheddar, Gruyere, smoked Gouda, mozzarella, etc.)
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
Instructions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a medium-sized casserole dish with cooking spray.Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the flour and stir 1 minute to make a paste. Add the milk, whisking constantly, and bring to a simmer. The mixture will thicken as it heats up. Remove it from the heat, season with salt and pepper, and set it aside to cool a bit.In a large bowl, mix together the rice, zucchini, grated cheese and green onions. Add the cream sauce and stir to combine. Turn the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Bake the casserole for about 45 minutes; the edges should be bubbling and the top golden brown. Serve hot.
Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 8 servings

3 comments:

Rocky Mountain Woman said...

I don't think the pics look like crap! They look like casserole....

Always looking for another zucchini recipe this time of year...

SallyBR said...

Just found your blog through StumbleUpon, and had to say hello! ;-)

I think the recipe (and of course your thoughts about it) is much more important than the photo. It is true that some foods are very hard to take photos from - anything dark brown is a nightmare for me.. .brownies, stews, chocolate ice cream...

But I bet your zucchini casserole tasted wonderful, and I wouldn't mind a big piece right now! ;-)

Erika said...

Sally, I'm so glad you commented and glad to meet you!

I've had similar problems with brownies. Note my solution at http://www.inerikaskitchen.com/2010/11/best-chocolate-brownie-recipe.html . I think you'll get a laugh out of it.

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