I love one-pot meals and casseroles, but I’ve heard people really flip out when faced with even the word ‘casserole’. I can only assume that someone made a bunch of bad casseroles and turned some of my friends against casseroles for life.
Be that as it may (I love saying that), casseroles are great because I am short on time and big on odd ingredients. As much as The Man would be happy with a sandwich or pizza for dinner, I kind of like to serve a meal that’s relatively healthy, tasty, and balanced. He just cares about the tasty part.
The tricky part always is protein, and because you never really know, I try to vary our protein source. Enter Quorn (sounds like ‘corn’), a fake meat-like product based on mycoprotein. Um, yes, that’s a filament fungus, like what’s growing in the ground that produces mushrooms. I like the ‘Chik’n Tenders’ because they’re basically big chunks of blank slate. You can do whatever you want to them and they take it.
You can do this quick and easy, or you can take some time to put the bells and whistles on. I’m doing it quick and easy here today because I need to work out while it’s baking. Also, I have leftover brown rice, so one less thing to actually make.
And please totally note that I’m not being paid anything to endorse Quorn. I just like the stuff.
“Chicken” and Rice Casserole
3 cups cooked brown rice
1 package Quorn Chik’n Tenders (340g)
1 jar pasta sauce (24 oz.)
1 cup grated cheddar
½ cup grated mozzarella
1 medium onion
1. Dice up the onion and toss it in a medium sauce pot with the Quorn, a little olive oil, and about ¾ of the pasta sauce. Yes, jarred pasta sauce. I only buy the fancy stuff that actually tastes good and keep it handy for these kinds of meals.
2. Heat this on medium heat, stirring regularly until it’s bubbling a bit. The Quorn needs to thaw out and soak up some of the sauce, and the onions need to do that thing that onions do.
3. While that’s bubbling, mix half of your cheddar and some salt and pepper (and maybe some garlic powder and Italian seasonings) in with your rice and settle it in the bottom of a casserole dish. I have a 1.4L one that I like because it’s deeper and keeps things moister.
4. Mix up your remaining cheese and spread half of this over the rice. Pour your Quorn/sauce mix over this and spread it evenly, then sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top of this.
5. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes or until it’s bubbling and the cheese looks fabulous. It needs to set up for a few minutes because it’s freaking hot.
The best brown rice recipe is Alton Brown’s baked version which I swear by and always works. Again, no effort and great result. If you need to make the rice for this, it’s simple to make it in your casserole dish, do your thing, and put everything back into your casserole dish. One less thing to wash is always WIN for me.
As a side note, I also do this with barbecue sauce instead of pasta sauce and that’s super tasty too. I don’t know why people have to be hating on casseroles. Especially those of us with 40 hour days to fit into a normal 24 hours.