Monday, June 25, 2012

Wild Rice, Mushroom and Kale Casserole

Food that I make for my friend Marshall has often graced the pages of this blog. Marshall is someone that I work with at the Circus, and he's also someone I'm happy to call a friend. He is a brilliant dancer, in fact, if you watch So You Think You Can Dance, he's actually one of the people in the title sequences. He is also an accomplished acrobat, has a kick ass static trapeze routine, and to him it appears that a back flip is as effortless as breathing.

In a few weeks, Marshall is leaving town. He's going off to new adventures. I'm really going to miss him. Not just because of the massages and the Marshall Meals, but because he's a good friend and someone I've loved working with this last year. I'm happy for him that he gets to go do even more cool stuff, but sad for me.

So it was time for another round of massages and meals, and this may very well be the last round, though I might try and make him dinner one last time before he skedaddles off into the wild blue yonder.

I'm still working on pantry busting, and I decided that it was time to use up the last of the Wild Rice medley that I picked up back when I made my Lentil and Rice salad. I've recently been playing around with Kale. I absolutely adored the Kale and Avocado dip that I made last week. So I packed this casserole full of Kale. I added mushrooms to give it a nice meaty component, and then a low(ish) fat cheese sauce to bind it all together and give it a little bit of creaminess.

This makes a nice big pan that is a great side dish. I served this to Marshall with some sauteed Kale on the side, and a Pesto and Slow Roasted Tomato stuffed chicken breast.

Wild Rice, Mushroom and Kale Casserole

For the Casserole

1 1/2 Cups Uncooked Rice Blend (include Wild Rice)
2 Cups Kale
8oz Mushrooms, sliced
1/4 Cup Walnuts
2 Tablespoons Butter for sauteing

For the Topping

1/4 Cup Asiago Cheese
1/4 Cup Panko Breadcrumbs

For the Sauce

2 Tablespoons Butter
2 Tablespoons Whole Wheat Flour
2 Cups Non-Fat Milk
1 Cup Cheddar Cheese, grated
1/2 Teaspoon Salt 

Everyone has a favorite method for cooking rice and here is mine. For this rice, you want it a little al dente, as it will cook more in the oven with the sauce. So, rinse your rice and get yourself a saucepan with a tight fitting lid. Cover the rice with water so there is about half an inch of water above the rice. Bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and lay a clean dish towel over the pan, then put the lid on, then tie the dish towel over the lid so that you aren't trailing dishtowel and risking fire and death. Turn the heat down very low, let cook for 15 minutes. Turn the heat off and let sit for another 15 minutes. Do not remove the lid at all during this time. After your time is up, take the lid off and you should have nice al dente rice. If you are using white rice, make the times 10 and 10. 
Slice the mushrooms and saute in a large skillet until browned, set aside. 
Chop the Kale, being sure to remove the center rib, and place in the pan you just took the mushrooms out of. Add a cup of water and cook until the water has evaporated all the way.

Now preheat the oven to 350F and make your sauce. Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the flour to make a paste. Add the milk little by little, stirring all the while until all of the milk is adding. If you have lumps, run the sauce through a sieve to get them out. Then, simmer until it starts to thicken a little. Take off the heat and add the salt and cheddar. Mix well to combine. 

To assemble the casserole, mix the mushrooms, kale, sauce, rice and walnuts in a large bowl. Pour out into an 8x8 Casserole dish (I love this one). Mix the panko breadcrumbs with the asiago cheese and sprinkle over the top. If you don't have asiago on hand, you can use parmesan. Bake for 20 minutes until the top is crispy and the casserole is bubbly. 

Serve to your friend in the green room between shows with some chicken and a side vegetable and tell him how much you will miss him. 

Makes 8 servings.

Want more Marshall Meals? Here they are:

Healthy Eggplant Parmesan
Asian Simmered Beef
Parsley and Panko Crusted Salmon

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