Monday, March 30, 2020

Joey's Cheesy Rice and Beans Casserole

  My inspiration for this dish was just the fact that so many people are choosing to eat less meat, or even none at all. Maybe it's a Meatless Monday, or maybe it's a Friday during Lent, or maybe you're just opting for more of a plant based diet for better health and a better environment.
  While I'm definitely a carnivore, I also love a delicious and hearty meatless dish, so I decided to come up with a casserole using a classic pairing, rice and beans. Nothing too ground-breaking, just some regular white rice cooked with some vegetable broth instead of water, tossed with some aromatics and a can of beans, then baked with some cheese melted on top. I just kind of threw it together and it was immediately a fabulous hit-the-spot meal. I think one of the best parts was that I made it with what I happened to have on hand, and it was ready in less than an hour. Simple! So you should definitely give this one a try. I promise you won't miss the meat!

3 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups dry uncooked white rice
2 tbs oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
3 ribs of celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 28oz can vegetarian baked beans
2 tbs ketchup
1 tbs brown mustard
1 tsp chili powder
S&P to taste
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

 In a small pot, bring the broth to a boil. Add the rice and give it a stir. Cover the pot, and reduce the heat to low. Let it simmer, covered, until the broth is absorbed, about 15-18 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large saute pan, heat the oil over medium heat, then add the onions, peppers, and celery. Saute until they soften, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and continue to saute for another minute or two. Add remaining ingredients, except for the cheese. Stir well. Now add the cooked rice, stirring well. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed. Pour rice and bean mixture into a 2 qt casserole dish. Top with cheese. Bake in a 350F oven for 20-30 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

This recipe lends itself to any number of variations. Instead of cooking plain white rice, use whatever leftover rice you have from a previous meal, or from your last take-out. Use yellow saffron rice, use brown rice, anything you like. Switch up your aromatics! Don't like celery? Leave it out. Want some heat? Add some jalapenos or other favorite chilis, or top it with Sriracha or your favorite hot sauce. Want some more veggies? Add a drained can of whole corn or a combination of other peppers. Not a fan of regular baked beans? Add a drained can of any kind of beans you like. Black beans, red beans, cannellini beans, or any combination. It will all work!

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