pen rainbow

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tuesday's Cupboard—Rainy Day Supper: Zucchini, Sausage & Rice Casserole

A risotto-like dish that is worth every minute!
I'll  eat anything with Italian turkey sausage and pepper jack in it!  This dish is basically a classic risotto, but lighter and less complicated to make.  It's a lovely (but time-consuming) dish to make during a long, cold, rainy afternoon.

If you have 4-1/2 cups of leftover brown rice, then you'll save 90 minutes of cooking time at the beginning.  Just sauté the vegetables in a nonstick pan until tender and add them to the pre-cooked rice.  

TO PRINT THIS RECIPE:  Copy the url; go to printfriendly; paste the url, edit & print.

This recipe basically has 4 parts:

1.  Prepare the rice & vegetable mixture (allow 90 minutes if you start with uncooked rice);
2.  Make the cheese sauce;
3.  Brown the turkey sausage 
4.  Put it all together

Total prep + cooking time: Approximately 2 hrs. 45 mins.

Adapted from  Original recipe from Eating Well Magazine
SERVES 12 (1 cup servings)

•  1 -1/2 c. long-grain brown rice
•  3 c. reduced-sodium nonfat chicken broth

•  4 c. chopped zucchini or summer squash
•  2 red or green bell peppers, chopped
•  1 large sweet onion, chopped

•  1 -1/2 c. nonfat milk
•  3 T. all-purpose white flour
•  2 c. shredded (or crumbled or sliced) pepper jack cheese, divided (1 -1/2 c. + 1/2 c.)
•  1 - 11 oz. can Mexican-style corn, undrained

•  2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
•  8 oz. mild Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
•  4 oz. lowfat cream cheese (Neufchâtel)
•  1 small can diced mild green chilies (4 oz.)

Preheat oven to 375°F

Part 1:  Make the rice & veggies
Mis en place:  Chop zucchini, bell peppers & onion.  Mix up in a large mixing bowl.

Mis en place the zucchini, bell peppers & onions
Pour rice into a 9" x 13" glass baking dish.  Measure 3 cups of broth into a 4 c. Pyrex measuring cup & zap it on high in the microwave for about 7 minutes to bring the broth to simmering.  Pour hot broth over rice & add chopped zucchini, bell peppers & onion.  Stir gently to combine.  The rice will stay at the bottom, and the veggies will stay mostly on top of the rice.  Cover tightly with foil & bake for 45 minutes.

Fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken broth
from Safeway
Remove foil and bake for an additional 45 mins. until rice is (mostly) tender & liquid is (mostly) absorbed.  Spoon into a large mixing bowl & set aside.  Wash the glass casserole dish & let it sit in the drainer for later.

Rice & vegetables ready for the oven—
Spoon into a large mixing bowl after cooking

Part 2:  Make the cheese sauce
Pour 1-1/2 c. of cold nonfat milk into a 4 c. Pyrex measuring cup.  Hand whisk 3 T. of all-purpose white flour into the milk until smooth. Pour milk/flour mixture into a small nonstick saucepan.  Cook over medium heat until bubbling & thickened, whisking frequently for about 3 to 4 mins.  Reduce heat to low & fold in 1-1/2 c. jack cheese and 1 can of undrained Mex corn.  Stir until cheese is melted and mixture is smooth, about 1 minute more.  Add cheese sauce to the large mixing bowl with the rice & veggies.  Just toss it on top of the rice; you will mix it all together after the sausage is added.
Start with a simple white sauce (whisk flour into cold milk, then heat)

I crumbled all but 6 slices into the white sauce & saved the
rest for the top of the casserole

Part 3:  Cook the turkey sausage
Heat the olive oil in a nonstick skillet & add crumbled sausage.  Cook, stirring & breaking up sausage into small pieces until lightly browned, about 6 minutes.
chubby mild Italian turkey sausages

lightly browned in a nonstick skillet with a little olive oil

Part 4:  Put it all together
In the large mixing bowl, combine cooked rice & vegetables with browned sausage and cheese sauce.  Season with kosher salt & freshly ground pepper to taste.  Transfer into a clean 9" x 13" glass casserole sprayed with nonstick spray.  Top with remaining 1/2 c. jack cheese & cream cheese broken up into teaspoon-sized globs.  Evenly distribute canned chilies over the cheese.  Grind black pepper over the top & sprinkle evenly with paprika.
rice mixture waiting for cheese sauce & sausage

Top with pepper jack & Neufchâtel
...don't forget the canned chilies

Lighten it up with low-fat cream cheese

Place a piece of Reynold's nonstick aluminum foil on the middle shelf & return the casserole to a 375°F oven.  Bake for 35 to 45 mins. until cheese is melted.  Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.  Makes 12, 1 cup servings.

Nutritional info:  calories 248 (reduced since I used nonfat instead of lowfat milk); 9 g fat (slightly less because of the nonfat milk); carbs 29g; chol 34 mg; sodium less than 491 mg since I did not add any salt & used reduced-sodium broth & low-sodium cheese.  Finished dish will contain the amount of salt in the recipe, plus whatever you add to taste, plus whatever salt is in the canned Mexican corn; fiber 2g; % from fat 33% (less because of the nonfat milk); sat fat 5g (slightly reduced)
Most of these went into the dishwasher

Goats Do Roam (Red 2010) from South Africa holds
up well to this hearty dish

A side of fresh greens and some Cholula Chipotle hot sauce
finish off this wonderfully satisfying supper