Sunday, January 16, 2011

Spinach, Ham, and Rice Casserole

I have to admit -- I love a good casserole.  I mean, what's not to love??!  Meat, carbs, and vegetables, all baked together, usually with a good amount of cheese, in one simple dish.  On the flip side, I REFUSE to eat anything that has condensed soup listed as one of it's ingredients.  Those canned soups are so goopy and salty and greasy and slimy and...I could go on forever!!  And don't even get me started on how they can't possibly be any good for you!  I try to make as much of meals as possible from scratch.  This doesn't mean that I won't buy sliced bread or jarred pasta sauce, but I do try to do as much as possible myself because it is the easiest way to control the quality of the food that my family and I eat.
All that being said, this is a great, simple recipe.  It's a wonderful way to use up leftover rice, and it can really be made with any sort of leftovers that you might have.  You could easily swap in any veggies you might have for the frozen chopped spinach, and definitely any sort of leftover meat would be great in place of the ham.  This was an easy one for me to make this evening after I got home from work because I already had all the ingredients on hand.  All I had to do was remember to defrost the spinach, and the rest of it was a piece of cake.  The chewy rice is a nice contrast to the sharpness of the cheese and the earthy flavor of spinach.  The ham serves as a nice, salty surprise in ever bite.  It's a dish that doesn't require many ingredients, so make sure you use a quality wine and cheese because you really do taste them in the final product.  Enjoy the deliciousness!

Spinach, Ham, and Rice Casserole
serves 4
2 packages (10 ounces each) chopped frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 cups brown rice (I made it in the rice cooker)
2/3 cup milk
2 eggs
4 ounces grated Gruyere cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 pound ham, diced

Preheat oven to 375F.  In a large bowl, combine spinach, rice, milk, eggs, and 3/4 cup cheese, and season with salt and pepper.  In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high, and add onion and garlic.  Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft and beginning to brown.  Add wine and cook until evaporated, about 5 minutes.  Add ham and cook until warmed through, about 3 minutes
Add ham mixture to spinach mixture and stir to combine.  Transfer to an 8-inch square baking dish sprayed lightly with cooking spray and top with remaining 1/4 cup of cheese.  Bake until warmed through and golden brown on top, about 30 minutes.
Adapted from Martha Stewart as it appeared in the April 2010 Everyday Food
441 calories, 18.8 grams fat, 29.4 grams protein, 34.2 grams carbohydrates, 5.2 grams fiber

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