I had planned on posting something entirely different today.
Something light and luscious and spring fresh. Something downright inspiring.
But with the second coming of winter, the temperatures hovering around minus 2 last night, and a flat tire to cap off an unusually bizarre (read bad) day yesterday, I just couldn’t put it out there. I wasn’t feeling it. I hope you can forgive me.
Instead, I’m featuring one of our family favourite comfort foods. A satisfying, delicious and healthy meal that will warm the cockles of your heart!
This is a great weeknight dish that you will almost certainly be able to assemble with whatever ingredients you already have on hand. Unless you’re feeding the entire neighbourhood, it will create lots of leftovers and is quick to prepare too – particularly if you have a rice cooker (wink).
Now, a note to my Spanish speaking friends, can you suggest a sexier name than ‘casserole’ for this dish? Not that there’s anything wrong with the word casserole – I mean, I think it’s probably the most accurate description in this case – it’s just that I’ve never found it to be particularly…. captivating. There, I said it. I sniffed around a bit last night but couldn’t seem to find the right translation. Any thoughts?
- 2 yellow onions, diced
- 1 heaping Tbsp chili powder or other spicy chile pepper, as desired (see Notes)
- 2 tsp cumin powder
- 2 green bell peppers (or other vegetable), chopped
- ½ cup pitted and sliced green or Kalamata olives
- 2 cups of your favourite salsa
- 2 ish cups cooked brown rice or rice of choice (could also use quinoa)
- 3 cups cooked black beans, thoroughly rinsed if using canned
- ½ to 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack or other cheese
- You will need a 2.5 quart/ 2.3 L casserole dish.
- Heat oven to 375 F.
- Sauté onion in a large skillet with some olive oil. Sprinkle chili and cumin powder over onion while it is cooking (there should be enough oil such that onion is not dry but rather moist/translucent), stirring to coat. Once onion has softened, remove from skillet, setting aside. Place black beans, bell pepper and olives in the same skillet used for the onion. Add ¾ cup of salsa to the beans mixture and stir to integrate over low heat.
- Meanwhile, spread brown rice out along base of an oven safe casserole dish (2.5 quart/ 2.3 L is the size I used) such that it forms the bottom layer. Top rice with remaining 1 + ¼ cup of salsa to form second layer. Spread onion mixture over salsa. Add black bean/bell pepper/olive mixture over onions and top with shredded cheese.
- Place casserole in oven uncovered and allow it to cook for approximately 30-45 minutes or until cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown along the edges.
- Remove casserole from oven and allow it to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving (I cut my piece too soon and got the droops). Add more seasoning as desired and serve with another dollop of salsa, guacamole and/or plain yogurt.
I hope you enjoy this warming vegetarian meal as much as we do.