Not your typical broccoli and rice casserole, this recipe is Broccoli and Black Japonica Rice. Added to those ingredients are leeks, ricotta and Parmesan cheeses and a smidgen of garlic (okay, it’s a six ingredient recipe). You’re going to love this take on an old favorite.
I’ve been on a broccoli kick lately. Because? Well, what’s not to love about broccoli? And since the holidays and the Super Bowl and Valentine’s Day are all behind us, I’m finally in the let’s-eat-more-green-stuff mode.
So, I decided to come up with an alternative to the old standby Broccoli and Rice Casserole. You know the one, it’s loaded with white rice and broccoli and in most instances some kind of canned soup and cheese. I wanted to turn that classic, homey recipe into something that was simple to prepare, much more elegant and nutritionally superior.
In consideration of the “nutritionally superior” part, I decided to use Black Japonica rice. I am a huge fan of Lundberg Family Farms products because of their commitments to environmental stewardship, as well as their participation in the Non-GMO Project. Black Japonica rice is full of vitamins, minerals, fiber and anti-oxidants (such as those found in blackberries and blueberries). It has a very nutty flavor and a juicy texture; it’s perfect for casseroles. You can find Lundberg Black Japonica Rice in most large grocery stores, gourmet food, and health food stores; even my tiny local market carries it.
Generally canned soups are added to casseroles in order to get a creamy texture, so I have substituted ricotta cheese to replicate that smoothness (not being a fan of canned soups). I also added some freshly grated Parmesan cheese. The Parmesan adds a salty element, in addition to a nutty flavor that enhances the nuttiness of the black japonica rice.
Instead of onion, I included lightly sautéed leeks. Leeks have a mild onion flavor, so I added them for that reason as well as for the subtle light green color. Remember, it’s always important to soak cut leeks in water to release any sand that gets trapped in the layers. Just place the cut leeks into a bowl of water, swish them around, allow any sand to fall to the bottom of the bowl. Scoop the leeks out of the water and pat dry to use.
Once I had all of the ingredients mixed into a bowl, I tasted it and thought it needed just a hint of garlic. So, I added just a titch of garlic powder. Yes, this brought my ingredients list to six (remember: water, butter or any oils, salt and pepper don’t count). But it was definitely worth the inclusion.
Here are your six ingredients:
- Black Japonica Rice
- Fresh Broccoli
- Ricotta Cheese
- Parmesan Cheese
- Garlic Powder
This isn’t a super fast recipe, since the rice takes about 50 minutes and you’ll be baking the casserole for another 15 minutes, but it is certainly worth the little bit of time it takes. The flavor is just incredible and it’s so much healthier than that old standby recipe. It’s simple to prepare and it’s a much more elegant version. I do hope you’ll try it.
- 3 cups fresh chopped broccoli
- 1 cup Black Japonica Rice, cooked according to package instructions in lightly salted water (this takes about 50 minutes, total).
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 cup sliced leeks
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ground black pepper, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Chop the broccoli and place in a large bowl.
- Cook the rice according to package instructions: One cup rice, two cups slightly salted water, bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 40 minutes, remove from heat and allow to steam for 10 minutes.
- Add the rice to the bowl with the broccoli.
- While the rice is steaming off the heat, you can begin to saute the leeks.
- In a small saucepan, over medium heat, add the butter.
- When the butter melts, add the leeks and saute for about 2 minutes.
- Add to the bowl with the broccoli and rice.
- Into the bowl with the broccoli mixture, add ricotta cheese, ½ of the Parmesan cheese, garlic powder and ground black pepper.
- Stir to combine.
- Place all of the ingredients into a flat casserole dish and sprinkle the remaining Parmesan cheese over the top.
- Place the casserole dish into the preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until the Parmesan cheese is melted and bubbly on top.