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Here's the Dish

Oh-So-Cheesy Zucchini and Rice Casserole

By Charlotte on July 22, 2012 6:21 AM

Bob and I are wild about fresh fruits and vegetables. So, most Fridays, you can find us at our neighborhood farmer's market.

Last week, I picked up some delicious zucchini and tomatoes that inspired me to make one of our all-time favorite meals: Cheesy Zucchini and Rice Casserole.

 

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This comfort-food medley's been a hit around our house for ages because it combines veggie goodness with lean ground meat. Like most Texans, we gotta have our beef!

 

Sour cream and jalapeno-laced Monterey Jack cheese make this creamy concoction extra yummy. Mild green chilies and spices like chili powder and cumin (two Tex-Mex necessities no pantry should be without) give it a little heat.

 

Besides starring garden-fresh veggies, this summer staple comes together quickly. Can you say dinner on the table in under an hour? Plus, you don't have to spend precious time searching for exotic ingredients or cleaning up. You'll need to bring home zucchini, one large or several smaller tomatoes, and green onions; everything else is probably already on hand. Bonus!

 

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Start by preparing some long grain, white rice. That's really easy if you use a brand like Success.

 

While the rice cooks, mix ground meat, zucchini, green onion and spices in a large skillet and sauté till the meat browns. Pour off any grease (even with EXTRA lean ground beef there's always a little).

 

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Then stir in green chilies (don't worry about draining them), the cooked rice, sour cream and half the Monterey Jack. Transfer the mixture to a 13" x 9" dish and bake.

 

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Once it's steaming, layer on the remaining cheese (AHHHH!!), top with sliced tomatoes and sprinkle with fresh ground pepper. Return to the oven just till the cheese melts.

 

Then get ready to enjoy! Serve this simple, one-dish meal with Hot Water Cornbread or thick, crusty slices of warm French or multi-grain bread for a summer-rific taste experience well worth repeating.

 

Cheesy Zucchini and Rice Casserole

 

Serves 6 - 8

 

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

 

Sauté ground beef, zucchini and green onion in large skillet until meat browns and veggies are tender crisp. Drain any grease.

 

Add spices, green chilies, rice, sour cream and 1 cup Monterey Jack and stir to combine.

 

Spritz a 13" x 9" baking dish with a nonstick spray like Pam. Then add the above mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

 

Top with remaining Monterey Jack, sliced tomatoes and fresh ground pepper to taste. Return to oven until cheese melts and tomatoes are hot ... about 5 minutes.

 

Love casseroles?  Check out these favorites:

 

 

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Diabetes-Friendly Chicken Burrito Bowl

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By Laura Cipullo and Lisa Mikus, authors of Everyday Diabetes Meals
Image credit: Colin Erricson

Prepare your own Mexican quick fix with this Chipotle-inspired bowl. Carbs are moderated by filling the bowl with beans, extra veggies and chicken. No need for rice, since the beans count as carbs.

Tips:

If you love tomatoes, increase the quantity to 1/2 cup, but note that the carbohydrates will also increase.

If preparing this recipe for one person, cut all of the ingredients in half. Or simply prepare the full recipe up to the end of step 2 and store leftover chicken and vegetable-bean mixture in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Reheat in the microwave on High for 1 to 2 minutes, or until heated through, and continue with step 3.

Health Bite: The iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, copper and zinc in black beans help to keep bones strong and healthy.

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