About two weeks ago, I gave a talk to a group of medical students at Boston University. The idea behind the presentation is that there’s a pretty significant dearth of nutrition education in our medical school curricula, so I tried to highlight some key points that they would find most helpful – for both their patients and themselves. Sometimes it’s hard to talk generally about eating healthier: everyone knows they should probably eat more vegetables, but so often people just don’t know how. I dislike coming back to that piece of advice again and again unless it is paired with concrete ideas for reaching that goal, which again, can be challenging in a group setting. One of the practical tips I included was to modify recipes by adding vegetables or increasing the quantities already called for in the recipe.
So I took my own advice when making Heidi Swanson‘s wild rice casserole, from her book Super Natural Everyday . While the original dish is healthy all by itself (whole grains, lean dairy, mushrooms), it’s almost begging to be doctored up with some vegetables, too. I opted for a head of cauliflower (a good choice for these early weeks of spring when the temperature hovers around 50 degrees), which blended in seamlessly with the creamy texture. Other ideas include broccoli or peas, which would add some nice color.
If you don’t have wild rice, all brown rice can be used instead. If the rice is cooked ahead of time, this dish comes together pretty quickly with just a few steps.
Wild Rice & Cauliflower Casserole
adapted from Super Natural Every Day, by Heidi Swanson
1 Tablespoon olive oil
8 ounces cremini or “baby bella” mushrooms, washed and sliced
1 large head of cauliflower, chopped into florets
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups cooked brown rice
2 cups cooked wild rice
2 large eggs
8 oz. or 1 cup cottage cheese
6 oz. plain low-fat yogurt or Greek yogurt
1/2 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup Gruyere cheese, shredded
1. Preheat the oven to 400-degrees. Oil a 9×13-inch casserole or glass baking dish.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large (12-inch) skillet and add the sliced mushrooms. Cook for 5 minutes, then add the chopped cauliflower. Cook another 5 minutes and add the chopped onions. Cook until the onions turn translucent, then add the garlic, cooking for a total of another 3 minutes. Transfer the mushroom/vegetable mixture to a large bowl and stir in both kinds of rice.
3. Combine the eggs, cottage cheese, yogurt, and mustard together in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, scoop the yogurt mixture into the rice mixture and stir to combine.
4. Transfer the rice mixture to the prepared baking dish and spread into an even layer. Sprinkle the gruyere cheese over the casserole. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake an additional 30 minutes.