When I saw this recipe on both Jessica and Josie’s blogs, it reminded me a lot of this zucchini rice gratin that I have made a few times (once, where I added chicken and turned it into a main course, like this dish), which made me want to roast the vegetables in this, too. It’s true that roasting the vegetables requires a little more work, but since I just did it at the same time the brown rice was cooking, it didn’t add any additional time-to-table. In fact, I baked the casserole for less time overall, so it actually shortened the total time. Now, this still does take a bit of time to make, since brown rice takes a good 40 minutes to cook and then you also need to bake the casserole, but it’s really easy, worth it, and I see no reason you couldn’t make this in advance and then pop it in the oven before serving.
One of my favorite things about this recipe is that even though it’s a casserole, it uses summer vegetables and really doesn’t have that “heavy” feeling casseroles often have. I bulked up the vegetables even more and, like Josie, added chicken to it (which I also roasted at the same time as the vegetables because I am all about efficiency). You could certainly leave the chicken out and make this a great vegetarian main dish, though.
(For the record, I hate cottage cheese, but it is totally fine in something like this, trust me. If you are worried about the curds, you could probably process it to get rid of most of them, but honestly, you won’t really notice them.)
Roasted Summer Vegetable and Rice Casserole with Chicken
2 medium zucchini, sliced into half-moons
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1.5 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
2 cups cooked brown rice
2 cups cooked and shredded chicken
2/3 cup corn (cut from 1-2 ears or frozen)
2/3 cup Romano cheese, divided
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, divided
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 cup cottage cheese
2 cloves garlic, minced
a little milk or chicken broth (optional*)
Preheat the oven to 425. Spray a 2.5 quart baking dish with cooking oil.
On one rimmed baking dish, toss together the zucchini and red bell pepper with 1 tablespoon of oil and salt and pepper to taste. On a second, toss together the tomatoes, remaining 1/2 tablespoon of oil, and salt and pepper. Roast the zucchini/peppers for about 20-25 minutes and the tomatoes for about 15 minutes. Turn the oven down to 350.
Allow the vegetables to cool for a little bit, and then dice the pepper strips into bite-sized pieces, and place all the vegetables in a large mixing bowl. To the bowl, add the rice, chicken, corn, and 2 tablespoons of the basil.
In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, Dijon, cottage cheese, garlic, half the Romano, and salt and pepper. Pour the mixture over the rice and vegetables, stirring to combine. If you think it looks a little too dry, you can add a little broth or milk (it should not be runny). Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and cover with a lid or foil. Bake for 15 minutes, remove the foil, and bake for an additional 15 minutes until cheese is golden brown. Rest for 10 minutes before serving, and top with the remaining 2 tablespoons of basil.