Golden Carrot Bake
Source: Simply in Season
This was incredibly simple (especially since Husband grated the carrots on my request as I drove home from work) to make. I am all about the baking dish dinner. It’s so easy to mix up something casserole-esque, dump it into a baking dish, and let the oven do its thing. Sometimes you need to think ahead, especially if the meal requires an hour of baking time, or you can find yourself eating dinner at 8:30 like T and I did when I made this. But isn’t that extra hour the perfect time to do some chores, organize those bills or whatever? Or surf the internet, or read a good book, or have some wine and cheese? I’m giving you the gift of time here, people. Anyway. The point is, casserole = easy and abundant in leftovers (for dinners served in a timely fashion the next night).
So. The first time I tried this recipe was when my post-college roommate made it after finding the recipe in her cookbook “Simply in Season.” She used pepper jack cheese since that’s all we had in our fridge, and it added a really nice bite to the end result. I used a combo of mild monterey jack (which is what the recipe calls for) and cheddar for a little more robust flavor. The casserole is still relatively mild, but I think it’s an excellent canvas for interesting add-ins, like broccoli sauteed with garlic, or chopped red pepper.
2 c. shredded carrots (about 4 large)
1 1/2 c. water
2/3 c. brown rice
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
1/4 c. chopped onion
1 c. milk
2 c.* shredded monterey jack cheese, divided
Pinch of nutmeg
Preheat oven to 350. Coat an 8×8 glass pan with non-stick cooking spray and set aside. Mix carrots, water, brown rice, salt and pepper in a medium saucepan. It might seem like a small amount of water for all those carrots, but it works. Just make sure most of your brown rice kernels are submerged. Bring this mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer (medium-low heat), cover, and cook for 25 minutes.
While that’s cooking, whisk milk and eggs together in a large measuring cup or small bowl. Set aside in fridge. Measure out onions and 1 1/2 cups of cheese and set aside. Hang out. Read a book. Eat a cookie.
After 25 minutes, the carrot/rice mixture will still be a little watery — that’s okay. Don’t drain it. Stir in the onions and mix in the milk & egg mixture, then fold in the 1 1/2 cups of cheese. Sprinkle the pinch of nutmeg over the mixture and stir again. (Don’t skip the nutmeg! It’s just a tiny amount that adds a hint of secret oomph to the dish.) Pour mixture into 8×8 pan and bake for 1 hour.
After the 1 hour of cooking, sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of shredded cheese over the top of the casserole. Bake for an additional 2 – 4 minutes, or until cheese is melted and just-this-side of bubbly. Let it set up for 3 – 5 minutes, then cut into 6 slices and serve. I cooked up some broccoli to accompany this, but I think asparagus or zucchini would be a good accompaniment as well.
*I cut back on the cheese and probably used about 1 1/2 cups altogether, and it turned out great.