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Asparagus, Rice and Sweet Pea Casserole

Asparagus, Rice and Sweet Pea Casserole

Ingredients:

2½  cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
10 ounces fresh asparagus, trimmed
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
3 Tablespoons Riceland Rice Bran Oil or canola oil, divided
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup thinly sliced celery
½  cup chopped bell peppers (use a variety of colors)
1 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, crushed
½  teaspoon dried rosemary leaves, crushed
1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper, optional
8 ounces fresh portobello mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced
½  cup heavy cream
Cream of Mushroom Soup Substitute (recipe follows) or 2 10.5-ounce cans reduced-sodium cream of mushroom soup
1 ½  cups frozen sweet peas, thawed
2 ½ cups cooked Riceland Gold Perfected Rice
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
2 ½ cups freshly shredded cheese, divided use (I used Sharp White Cheddar and Smoked Gruyere. Use a full-flavored cheese of your choice. See Notes.)
1 1/4 cups panko
fresh flat-leaf parsley as garnish
 2 cups cooked, chopped chicken or fully-cooked hickory smoked ham, optional

Directions:

1.     Prepare Cream of Mushroom Soup Substitute if using.

2.     Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

3.     In a large skillet, bring broth to a simmer. Add in asparagus and simmer 4-5 minutes until slightly tender.

4.     Remove asparagus to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking; drain, cut into 2-inch pieces and set aside. Discard broth.

5.     Wipe the skillet dry and return to medium heat; add in 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter and 2 Tablespoons oil and heat until butter is melted.

6.     Add onion, celery and bell peppers to skillet and sauté until tender, 3-5 minutes.

7.     Add minced garlic, thyme, rosemary leaves and Aleppo pepper (if using) to skillet; continue to sauté 3-4 minutes until garlic is tender. Set aside in a small bowl.

8.     Return skillet to heat, add 1 Tablespoon butter and 1 Tablespoon oil. Add sliced mushrooms to skillet and sauté, stirring occasionally, until they are tender and just beginning to color.

9.     Add onion mixture to mushrooms, stirring to combine.

10.  Stir in heavy cream and Cream of Mushroom Soup. Additional cream may be added if mixture appears too thick.

11.  Add peas and rice; mix thoroughly Season with salt and pepper.

12.  Gently stir in 1 ½ cups shredded cheese.

13.  Spray a 9 x 13-inch casserole with nonstick spray. Layer the bottom with asparagus pieces.

14.  Spread the rice mixture evenly over the asparagus.

15.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

16.  While casserole bakes, prepare toasted panko. Melt 1 Tablespoon butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add in panko and stir frequently until lightly browned; set aside.

17.  After the casserole has baked 25 minutes, top with remaining shredded cheese and bake for 10 minutes before topping with the browned panko. Return to oven for 10 minutes until the panko is toasted well.

18.  Remove from oven and cool 10-15 minutes before serving. Garnish with freshly chopped parsley.

Notes: Avoid using pre-shredded cheese. It contains an additive which does not always encourage smooth melting.

May also be made in smaller casseroles or individual ramekins. Cooking times will need to be shortened slightly. 

Variations: Add in chopped cooked chicken or ham when adding the rice. Bake as directed.

Use frozen mixed vegetables in place of the peas for a colorful and pleasing variation.

 

CREAM OF MUSHROOM SOUP SUBSTITUTE

Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ½  cup any broth (beef/chicken/vegetable
  • ½  cup milk
  • baby portobello mushrooms, finely chopped and sautéed (however much you desire, about 1 – ½ cups)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat.
  2. Stir in flour a little at a time until smooth, and then remove from heat.
  3. Add broth and milk a little at a time, whisking to keep mixture smooth. Stir in mushrooms.
  4. Return to heat and bring sauce to a gentle boil; stir constantly until sauce thickens.
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste.

 

Note: Substitute any flavorful mushroom you desire. Button mushrooms typically do not impart much flavor. 

By The Women Bloggers/Riceland Blogger Debbie Arnold of DiningWithDebbie.net