Let’s Have a Party Zucchini-Rice Casserole

The original name of this casserole, Zucchini-Rice Casserole, is really quite misleading. So, I renamed it to Let’s Have a Party Zucchini-Rice Casserole.  The first time I saw this casserole was at a Church gathering and I was really suspect of it.  It didn’t look like any “casserole” that I had ever seen; it looked so….fresh.

I took my first bite, and thought about what I was tasting.  I was really surprised at how good it was.  I took another bite.  What in the heck was I tasting?  I couldn’t figure out the flavors.  Yes, I said flavors; as in there was a lot more than just one casseroley flavor rolling around in my mouth.  Who does that to something and then calls it a casserole?

Anyway, I would love to thank Karen for sharing this great recipe.  I can’t remember her last name…Karen…Karen…Hmm, just can’t remember.  Sorry.  Maybe through the magic of cyberland she will see this blog post and respond and then I can give her full credit because, sheesh, this is a really great recipe.

Cook’s Note: This recipe works best as written. It may seem too dry prior to baking, but the zuchinni and the tomatoes will both provide liquid for the casserole as it bakes.  My best advice is to not tinker with the recipe the first time you make this.  Make it as written, try it, make notes on what you’d like to change, THEN the next time you make it you can change it.

Let’s Have a Party Zucchini-Rice Casserole
Recipe Source: Karen ?
Printable Recipe

Ingredients

  • 4 1/2 cups cooked rice (1 1/2 cups raw rice cooked in 3 cups water)
  • 1 lb Monterey Jack cheese, grated. Reserve ½ C for topping (or a little more) (I used pepper jack)
  • 3 medium zucchini, unpeeled, sliced, and parboiled for two minutes (don’t overcook). Drain. (I steam mine.)
  • 2-3 large tomatoes, wedged
  • 2 cups or more cooked chicken, sliced or cubed (I used 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts)
  • 2 cups sour cream (I used light)–you may want to use more sour cream if you feel that the casserole is too dry, but remember that the vegetables in the casserole will add liquid to the casserole as they cook
  • 1-7oz can diced green chilies
  • 1 teaspoon Mediterranean oregano (If you use Mexican oregano, use only ½ teaspoon.)
  • ½ teaspoon garlic salt or garlic powder
  • 1 small green pepper, chopped (I used a poblano pepper this time.)
  • 2 tablespoons green onion, chopped with some of the green tops
  • 1 small can sliced olives (I used a regular can of olives and sliced them myself.)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon or more fresh parsley, chopped for topping

Instructions

  1. Butter a three quart casserole. Combine sour cream, spices, green chilies, green pepper, green onions, and olives. 
  2. Add grated cheese, chicken, and rice.  Mix well.
  3. Carefully fold in tomato wedges and zucchini. Using your hands to do the folding works well. Messy, but effective. 😉
  4. Spoon into a casserole. Cover with grated cheese and parsley. 
  5. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and let sit for a few minutes to reabsorb the juices from the zucchini and tomatoes.
Only the zucchini came from my garden.  Usually by this time of year the pepper and the tomatoes would be ready for picking right in my own back yard.  So sad.
Cut the zucchini into at least 1/4-inch slices, but not as thick as 1/2 inch.  If you use smaller than 1/4-inch slices, then the zucchini will not hold up well in the casserole.
I like to steam my zucchini.  When I steam my vegetables I use one of those inexpensive flexible metal steam baskets that you can find in almost any store that sells kitchen gadgets.  Remember to only steam or parboil for about 2 minutes.  You don’t want mushy zucchini; it will cook some more in the oven inside the casserole.
This was the first time that I used a poblano pepper in this dish.  I liked it.
It doesn’t matter if you use Roma-style tomatoes or round tomatoes.  Generally I have used round tomatoes from my garden, which are WONDERFUL.  If you can get your hands on fresh garden tomatoes, use those for best flavor.  You can be more generous with the wedge size on round tomatoes, too.  These are actually a little thinner than I would normally use, but these were the only tomatoes that I had handy–mostly because I refused to pay over $2.00 a pound for the round tomatoes at my local grocery store.  Highway robbery.
Such a delicious looking picture.  The fresh vegetables are so pretty and inviting.  Looking at this picture makes me want pizza.
Toss the olives, onions, peppers, green chiles, sour cream, and spices into a large mixing bowl.
Mix well. 

 
Add the grated cheese, chicken, and rice and mix well. 
Add the tomatoes and zucchini last.  I use my hands to gently fold everything together.  I have found that my hands work better than anything else for mixing in the tomatoes and zucchini because I want them to keep their shape.  I’d show you a picture of the mixing/folding process but…take a look at how nice the ingredients look once they are in the baking dish.
Sprinkle the reserved cheese and the chopped fresh parsley on top.  It’s really quite festive.  Like I mentioned earlier in the recipe, this time I used pepper jack cheese.  It gave some heat to the dish, which I like.  Most of my family gets a little frustrated with me when I sneak in spiciness.  My son in-law, Tim, however gives me a two thumbs up.  Thank you,Tim.
Hmmmm….there used to be a picture of the finished product right here, but apparently Blogger has lost the pic. This is where I tell you to bake the casserole, uncovered, at 350 degrees F. for about 30 minutes. Take the casserole out of the oven and let it sit for 10 minutes to allow the juices from the vegetables to be reabsorbed into the casserole.
I seriously need to re-do this post and update the pics! Oh well, I was just learning how to blog when I made this post. 🙂

Comments

  1. says

    I was hoping that you’d post something with zucchini in it. We have have a lot of it, of course, and more coming, along with a good crop of tomatoes. Any other ideas on how to tackle those?

    • says

      Good question. This will feed at least 10-12 adults, probably more. As I looked back through the recipe, I realized that I need to re-do this post. I had just started blogging when I posted it and it (the post) needs some sprucing up.

      The recipe is easy, despite the multiple steps involved–lots of slicing and some precooking as with the rice and zucchini. My very best suggestion is to make the casserole the way the recipe is written. The woman from whom I got it served it often at her parties and I think that she has already done all of the “tweaking”.

      Thanks for dropping by and asking a question. I hope that the recipe turns out well for you.

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