By Rachel Diver Williams
Yum! What a hearty casserole for a cold late-winter’s night! I am talking about the Cheesy Sausage and Rice Bake recipe in this week’s Amish Cook column.
First off, I should mention that Kevin and I are vegetarian, more specifically the lacto-ovo type, which means we do consume eggs and dairy products, but no red meat, pork, chicken or fish. That being said, I’ve found that it is pretty easy to adapt most recipes that contain meat.
I got off to a bit of a rocky start, because our local Kroger was out of veggie sausage crumbles. Instead I used a type of veggie sausage that comes in a tube, Gimme Lean brand ground sausage-style veggie protein. Turns out it wasn’t too difficult to crumble the sausage while heating and browning it in a skillet with a little olive oil. It probably took me just a little longer than using the crumbles, because I heated it in a skillet and used a fork to cut it into smaller pieces. Most veggie meat substitutes are already cooked, and need only be heated before eating, so if I had used the crumbles they would have gone straight in the recipe. I used white quick-cooking rice, but I bet this would be good with brown rice as well, just use your preference. I shredded an 8 oz. block of cheese, which made a little more than 2 cups of shredded cheese, but a little extra cheese never hurt anyone : ) . I like to shred the cheese myself as opposed to buying the pre-shredded kind. I think it tastes better freshly shredded, and I think it is a little less expensive this way. After crumbling the sausage, cooking the rice and shredding the cheese, I combined 3 cups of cooked rice with 1 ½ cups shredded cheese, reserving the rest. I then spread this in the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish, because I don’t have a 2 quart casserole dish. We don’t eat many casseroles, since so far it’s just the two of us, but maybe I’ll have to invest in a casserole dish. This was a quick and easy recipe, and I can see why casseroles are so appealing.
Next I spread the sausage crumbles over the rice and cheese layer.(164) I then beat three eggs with a fork, and combined them with the can of mushroom soup, the 4 oz. drained canned mushroom pieces and ½ cup of milk. I poured this over the sausage layer and topped it with the remaining cheese, and it was ready to go in the oven, which was heated to 350. I should mention here that I forgot to add the ¼ teaspoon of onion powder, oops!
We completed the meal with some organic broccoli, steamed and topped with some fresh squeezed lemon juice and a little salt, and a fruit salad of organic grapefruit and oranges, and banana. Kind of a strange combination, but it was pretty good! If you try this casserole at home, I hope you enjoy it as much as Kevin and I did, let me know!