Friday, October 23, 2009

Food Friday: Zucchini Herb Casserole

I'm hoping it's been a sufficient amount of time since my last zucchini recipe, because I have another one for you. I'm also hoping I have redeemed myself with my last two recipes and you trust me, once again, to tell you about delicious food.

In other news, my oven is broken, and has been for about 2 weeks. Remember how excited I was when I got my cool vintage oven? And how I said it was really cheap? Well, when I bought it, the guy told me that the coils sometimes went out on those older ones, which was fine... I figured I could replace it when the time came and then promptly removed that conversation from my memory. About 2 months ago, I had something in the oven and went to remove it when I discovered that the oven door didn't want to open all the way. I was able to open the door about halfway, which was sufficient at that time, but made a mental note to take a look at it when it wasn't 350 degrees. Then I promptly removed that mental note from my memory until the next time I tried to take something out of the oven. The thing is, that the door opened okay when it wasn't hot (which is why I kept forgetting until it was time to take something out). Then one time when I got really frustrated at the door not opening, I tried to force it open and the whole door just came off. And it was hot. It was not good.

Anyway, around the same time, I noticed that part of the bottom coil was brighter red than the rest when it got hot. I found this curious, but it did not trigger the memory of the conversation I had with the guy about bad coils, so I ignored it. Until one day, about 2 weeks ago, when I was preheating the oven and was about halfway through preparing dinner. I had my back to the oven when I suddenly heard this sizzling, sparking sound. I turned around, and sure enough, sparks and flames were shooting up from the bottom coil in the spot I had previously noticed. And I have to tell you, that was a real bummer because dinner was too far prepared to stop. Luckily some friends who live closeby came through and let me use their oven in exchange for feeding them.

So it's been two weeks while we took the door apart, figured out what parts we needed, and ordered them. It really sucks, and is totally cramping my culinary mojo. I know there are plenty of things I could be cooking without using the oven, but for some reason I just can't get my head around it. The biggest bummer of all is that it's going to cost almost as much to fix it as I paid for it. Which, sounds bad, but considering I didn't pay much for it to begin with, I guess it's still okay. And, it's still cheaper than the $2200 oven that I would have to buy if I were to spring for a new one.

Okay. So anyway, this is a warm and tasty dish, and is loaded with good things like veggies, rice, and cheese. I found it to be a satisfying main course, but you could have it as a side, too, if you're a meat-eater. Or, you can mix in cooked chicken or shrimp and cook it in a larger dish if that's how you roll. Next time, I think I might add corn or some bell peppers for more flavor. I suggest opting for brown rice instead of white if you have time. If not, white is okay.

Zucchini Herb Casserole
1/2 cup uncooked long grain white rice
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 pounds zucchini, cubed
1 cup sliced green onions
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 1/2 cups seeded, chopped tomatoes
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese, divided

1. Combine the rice and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a shallow 1 1/2 quart casserole dish.
3. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat, and cook the zucchini, green onions, and garlic for 5 minutes, or until tender. Season with salt, basil, paprika, and oregano. Mix in the cooked rice, tomatoes, and 1 cup cheese. Continue to cook and stir until heated through. Transfer to the prepared casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese.
4. Bake uncovered 20 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

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