Rice & Beans Casserole

    At a local food pantry we distribute plenty of basics including rice and beans. Canned tomatoes and green chilies are also very popular items here in Texas. Filling a food order often causes me to consider what kind of tasty meal could be prepared with these items. So I was inspired to bring the following casserole to a potluck/meeting of pantry workers. It turned out to be really tasty and enjoyable as well as nutritious and very filling.

Ingredients:
The Rice:
1 cup dry brown (white if you prefer) rice
1 can (15-16 oz.) diced tomatoes, Rotel, or tomato sauce + water for the rice

The Beans:
1 can (15-16 oz.) red kidney beans rinsed and drained or 2 cups home cooked beans

The Veggies:
½ cup chopped green chilies (or other veggie on hand like celery, bell pepper, finely chopped carrot, squash, cabbage or anything else fresh that needs to be used up)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 minced garlic cloves (if you have fresh)
1 tablespoon cooking oil

The Seasoning:
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon garlic powder (if you didn’t have fresh)
4 total teaspoons of any of the following: chili powder, ground cumin, or red curry powder

The Secret Ingredient:
¼ – ½ cup coconut milk (keeps the casserole moist and mellows/blends the flavors)

Directions:
Cook the brown rice with your choice of tomato option adding sufficient liquid to yield tender rice. This can be done the day before and put in the fridge. There will be about 3-4 cups total.

Sauté the raw veggies, celery, bell pepper, onion, etc. in oil. Add the beans, cooked veggies, and seasoning to the cooked rice. Stir in the coconut milk. Put it all in a casserole dish and bake at 350*F for 25 minutes. About 6-8 ounces of cheese melted on top adds nutritional value for those who can partake of dairy (I have to admit to being very partial to cheese even though milk doesn’t agree with me).

Mom
Note: Casseroles are by nature free-form so exact measurements are not critical.

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