Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Vaguely Mexican Casserole

My husband was feeling creative in the kitchen last night (that sounds a little dirty, doesn't it?) and suggested this funky casserole/one-dish meal. Apparently, it's based on something that was served for lunch last week in the high school he teaches at. Here's what went into it:

2/3 c. rice
1 1/3 c. water
1 can red kidney beans
4-5 medium tomatoes, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1 red bell pepper (green, yellow or orange would work too), diced small
1 large can corn
pinch chili powder
2 chicken thighs worth of cooked, shredded chicken meat
a healthy tsp+ garlic powder
1 tsp. paprika
2-3 heavy pinches salt
a couple grinds of black pepper (1/2 tsp.)
shredded cheddar/jack cheese

In a large saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Add the rice and turn heat to low, cook covered until most of the water has been absorbed (about 5 minutes). Turn the heat up to medium, add kidney beans, tomatoes, and spices to taste - since we were kind of making this one up on the fly, I'm not sure exactly how much of what spices went into the pan - a lot of salt and garlic powder, for sure. Cook together on medium heat until the tomatoes start to fall apart and the pepper gets softer.

Add the cooked shredded chicken (we had cooked two chicken thighs the night before, but you could use cooked breast meat instead - I think you can purchase this in the grocery store now), bell pepper and corn, mix together and cook over medium heat until the chicken has warmed through and everything looks about done. If you prefer your bell pepper a little softer, add it earlier, with the tomatoes.

Test the spicing one last time and add anything that seems to be missing. Spoon onto plates top with some shredded cheese, and enjoy! This made about 4 dinner-sized servings.

---- Apologies for the messiness of this recipe, but we definitely were making it up as we went along. All in all it turned out really well - so much so, in fact, that we ate the leftovers for dinner the NEXT NIGHT, which is unusual and definitely a stamp of approval. It was surprisingly creamy, I'm guessing because the beans and rice broke down a bit, and the corn and bell pepper added some interesting texture. Plus, by my calculations, this dish is INCREDIBLY healthy: lots of fiber, decent amount of protein (between the beans and the chicken), and low fat (just the cheese, pretty much). And so colorful, too!

I'd be curious to see how other people like it...


Rachel said...

I think that's the first time I've ever heard of someone trying to recreate a school lunch before!

Jackie said...

haha! Yeah, I thought that was kind of funny... I wonder whether our version was better or worse? :)