Monday, September 29, 2014

Spinach and Rice Casserole

Another recipe for my Greek class. It draws from the very popular Spanakopita which is a Greek spinach pie. Spanakopita is made with phyllo dough but that's not the easiest thing to deal with for beginning cooks. Here, we make it easier by mixing the spinach filling with some brown rice. This is a stick-to-your-ribs vegetarian entree.

Frozen spinach comes in packages ranging from 10 oz to 16 oz. Use whatever you can find. You do need to thaw it and drain it, but no need to squeeze out the water, as is usually done with spinach filling recipes.

Spinach and Rice Casserole
(serves 6-8)

about 5 cups cooked brown rice*

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained

4 eggs
1 cup low fat or whole milk
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese, about 4 oz.
1 cup crumbled feta cheese, about 4 oz.
2 Tablespoons chopped parsley
2 Tablespoons chopped dill
1 teaspoon salt or more to taste
½ teaspoon black pepper

non-stick cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°F. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and spinach. Cook for a few minutes until heated through. Remove from the heat, transfer to a large bowl, and allow to cool for a few minutes, so you don't scramble the eggs when you mix them into the spinach. Spray a 9" x 13" baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Beat the milk into the eggs. Add this and the remaining ingredients into the spinach and stir to combine. Spread into the baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 10 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature; refrigerate any leftovers.

*Cook 1 ¾ cups raw brown rice in 3 ¼ cups water to yield 5 cups of rice. Depending on the rice, they take 40-50 minutes to cook. If you cooked the rice ahead and it is cold, zap it for a minute to warm it up. Precooked brown rice cooks up in less time than white rice and is a good option if you want this dish in under an hour. Check the box for how much rice you need to cook because the yield is different than for raw brown rice.

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