I’ve been in a casserole mood of late. It’s so nice to prepare something once and then enjoy it for several days (especially when I’m keeping busy making things for my shop). There’s a great basic mix and match casserole formula in The Best Casserole Cookbook Ever, by Beatrice Ojakangas, that provides guidance with lots of flexibility. I used her formula before with my Whole Wheat Tuna Noodle Casserole.
My take on Beatrice’s formula wasn’t originally going to have an Italian theme, since it was starting with rice and beans. But after choosing my veggies, sauce, and topping it started to look like a natural fit. All that was needed for seasoning was some oregano.
Everything came together so well, and I love how it turned out. This casserole is hearty and delicious, and leftovers reheat great.
Italian Veggie Casserole with Beans and Rice
Makes a generous 3-qt casserole (mine filled all the way to the brim of my dish)
- 1 c brown rice
- 2 tbsp butter, divided into 1 tbsp + 1 1/2 tsp + 1 1/2 tsp
- 12 large cremini mushrooms, sliced
- 2 tsp oil
- 2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
- 1 medium zucchini, cut into 1- to 1 1/2-inch chunks
- 2 c cooked navy beans
- 14.5 oz can whole tomatoes
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1/2 c grated Parmesan
- Cook brown rice according to directions, adding 1 tbsp of butter to the boiling water.
- Heat the remaining 1 1/2 tsp butter and 1 tsp oil in a pan over medium heat and add onion slices. Cook over medium low heat until they start to brown (or you can take them all the way to caramelized). Set aside.
- Now that the brown rice and onions are started, it’s a good time to preheat the oven to 350°. Butter a generous-3-qt casserole dish.
- Saute mushrooms in 1 1/2 tsp butter and 1 tsp oil over medium heat until moisture cooks off. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
- Boil a saucepan of enough water to come a couple of inches above the zucchini slices. Add the zucchini and simmer for a few minutes until just tender. Avoid overcooking and turning them to mush. Drain and set aside.
- Pulse the tomatoes (with juices) in a blender or food processor until the chunks smooth out. Then pour into a small bowl and stir in the garlic and oregano. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- In a large bowl, gently mix the beans, rice, zucchini, onions, and mushrooms. Spread into the prepared dish. Pour tomato sauce evenly over top. Sprinkle the cheese evenly on top and cover.
- Bake for 30 minutes with cover on, then remove cover and bake an additional 10-15 minutes, until browned and heated through.
- Remove and let rest for about 10 minutes, then serve.