Chicken & Rice Casserole
The beauty of this recipe is that you can either make the ingredients fresh on the day, or use leftovers. And here's why - ever had a ton of leftover rice, or chicken, and you simply have no clue what to do with them? I’m all for recycling food and not letting it go to waste, and this recipe gives you a chance to turn your leftovers into something completely different. Next time you’re making a chicken dish, maybe you’d like to leave a few breasts for this meal… same goes with rice, because everything needed here is pre-cooked. It’s only a matter of getting it together, which really takes no time at all. Moreover, if you’re one of those people that gets bored with plain old rice, this recipe is definitely for you – delicate spice, scrummy sauce, cheesy goo, soft bits of chicken, and the pop of beans… all combined with rice… very Mexican, no? Think of it as a burrito without the wrap. The magic word here is cheese, which works as a binder to hold the rice together, and also makes it delicious and succulent.
I made this meal for a friend who was coming over for dinner the other day. It took about 25 minutes to make and bake it, we we’re digging in right away. As will you! Great if you're in a hurry, or need to fill a table for guests. Have fun :)
2 - 2 ½ cups cooked basmati rice (brown or white)
½ can black beans or kidney beans, rinsed
3 -4 cooked chicken breasts, shredded or cubed
1 ½ cups salsa*
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon minced garlic
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon dried thyme
3 or 4 basil leaves, chopped
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
Pepper for seasoning
½ cup canned corn, drained
2 extra basil leaves, chopped
Pre-heat the oven to 220.C
In a large bowl, combine salsa, sugar, salt, minced garlic, cumin, thyme, and basil with a wooden spoon.
Add beans and chicken, and stir until combined
Add half of the cheddar and mozzarella cheeses, and stir to combine
Add cooked basmati rice, and stir to combine
Once combined, pour out your mixture into an ovenproof dish, and even out with your spoon.
Sprinkle drained corn over the top of the rice, followed by pepper, and the remaining cheddar cheese.
Place the whole dish into the oven for about 15 minutes, until cheese melts and rice starts to sizzle.
Remove from the oven, and sprinkle the remaining mozzarella cheese on top. Return it to the oven for about 5 minutes, until the mozzarella melts.
Remove from the oven, sprinkle with extra chopped basil leaves, and serve!
* Any kind of salsa or sauce is fine – store bought enchilada sauce in a jar, or your own homemade version of it. It’s really up to you. I personally, because of time constraints, used a jar of pasta sauce I had in the fridge. The secret is improvisation :)