12 May 2015

My cheater's guide to risotto

Perhaps you wouldn't call this risotto, as it lacks that extreme creaminess (which I find monotonous after a while, frankly), but this baked casserole is a great way to turn some leftover rice, vegetables, and optional meat product into a satisfying meal.  And as a bonus, you're not stuck standing over the stove, pouring liquids and stirring constantly until it's done.

Italian Rice Casserole

Serves 6-8

Butter for the pan
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 link Italian sausage (vegetarian or meat product), casing removed and chopped or crumbled
½ yellow onion, diced
1’2 red bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups cooked rice (white or brown)
2 cups chopped spinach (fresh or frozen)
½ cup dry white wine
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese + more for sprinkling on top
2 tablespoons chopped herbs of your choice (fresh, dried, or any combination)
2 tablespoons capers
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease an 11 x 7 baking dish liberally with butter and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the oil.  When it shimmers add the sausage, onion, pepper, and garlic and sauté on medium-high heat until the onion is soft and the sausage (I used Field Roast Italian) is cooked, about 7 minutes.  Turn off the heat, and stir in the rice, spinach, wine, cheese, herbs, and capers.  Season with salt and pepper.  Combine thoroughly.

Pour the rice mixture into the baking dish smooth evenly. Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.  Remove from oven, sprinkle a thin layer of additional cheese on top, and broil on high until golden brown, about 10 minutes (you may need to rotate halfway through broiling time).

Bonus meal: dump the leftovers into some hot broth, add more vegetables and beans if desired, and call it a soup!