In this casserole the creamy cheese sauce balances the crunch of baked brown rice. Neufchatel cheese goes great in this textured delight. Think of it as cream cheese’s lower-calorie French cousin- with extra flavor. This recipe comes to us from Carrie of Ottawa, Ontario.
- 2 cups long-grain brown rice
- 5 cups water
- 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup celery, finely chopped
- 1 cup onion, finely chopped
- 4 cups broccoli, florets and peeled stalks
- 4 ounces low-fat cream cheese or neufchatel cheese
- freshly ground pepper and salt to taste
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
In a large saucepan over high heat, bring the rice, 4 cups of the water and ¼ teaspoon of the salt to a boil. Turn the heat down to medium-low, cover and simmer the rice for about 40 minutes or until the water is absorbed and the rice is just barely tender. Transfer the rice to a large bowl and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350 and lightly oil a large shallow casserole dish.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil. Add the celery and onion and sauté for about 7 minutes, or until onions are translucent.
Add the broccoli, stir to combine, add the final cup of water and cook for another 3 minutes or until broccoli is not quite tender.
Add the cheese to the skillet, breaking it up and stirring it to make a slightly thick, creamy gravy that coats the vegetables. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Scrape the vegetable cheese mixture into the bowl with the rice and toss to mix well. Season the casserole with the basil.
Transfer the mixture to an oiled casserole dish, cover with foil and bake for 30-35 minutes or until heated through. Serve hot.