Monday, September 26, 2011

Another Tasty Veggie Casserole for Meatless Monday

Janet here: I know I've been a bit of a casserole stalker in recent weeks of Faith Durand's new cookbook, Not Your Mother's Casseroles, but I can't help it. Every damn thing I make is killer. (See squash casserole here or her broccoli, cauliflower and onion one here.)

This artichoke and spinach casserole is yet another example. Thanks to the addition of ricotta, mozzarella and Parmesan it seems sinfully close to eating a dinner of artichoke and spinach dip (not that I've ever considered doing that). The recipe is officially called a tian, which means nothing to me and seemed a little like the debate surrounding a fruit crisp or crumble. I did a little research, though, and it appears a tian originated in Provence and that it's a casserole that contains cheese and grains and is usually topped with bread crumbs.

The bread crumbs thing should be in this recipe but as you can see from the recipe, mine doesn't. That's because I cleverly put the whole thing together — with a lovely layer of garlic bread crumbs on top — popped it all in the oven and realized five minutes later as I was cleaning up the kitchen that, oops, the rice was still sitting on top of the stove. I quickly took the dish out and just mixed the rice in, meaning my bread crumbs were now inside the dish.

It did not ruin the taste one little bit. G, the son who for most of his young life refused to put a single green thing into his mouth, had seconds. 'Nuff said.

Spinach and Artichoke Tian with Garlic Bread Crumbs
serves 6-8


1/2 cup short grain white rice
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 16-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 12-ounce packages frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and drained (I used canned instead and it was just fine)
1 15-ounce container ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 large eggs, beaten
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

ingredients for bread crumb topping

2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3/4 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
olive oil

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9X13 baking pan.

Bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add the rice. Cook for 10 minutes, then drain. Set aside (but don't forget about it!).

In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until it is golden and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, salt and pepper and cook for another few minutes, or until the garlic is golden and translucent.

Pat the spinach and artichokes dry with a paper towel. Combine in a large bowl with the ricotta, mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Fold in the drained rice, cooked onions and garlic, and then the eggs and nutmeg. Spread in the baking dish.

To make the bread crumbs, whiz the garlic, salt, pepper, bread crumbs and Parmesan in a food processor until well combined. Sprinkle evenly over the casserole and drizzle with additional olive oil.

Bake uncovered for 45 minutes or until firm and golden. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

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