Friday, 13 August 2010

Russian style rice casserole

This week I have had some time to cook. I have finally made Florentines and an Irish no knead bread (coming to this blog soon) that I have wanted to make for ages. But I have struggled to come up with ideas for dinner. This rice casserole come from Cooking with Cranks and was a surprising success.

Maybe I expect more from dinner in the way of clearing the fridge. I originally decided to make the recipe as it was written with mushrooms, courgettes, and red pepper that suggested an Italian style casserole. But my mind started searching my fridge and finding sour cream, carrots, mushrooms, dill and chives. It suggested that Russia should be my inspiration.

It took a while to put together but it was forgiving of my attention wandering as I put away washing and fed Sylvia her dinner. This casserole lasted us a few nights so it was worth the effort and I loved it. E was a bit less certain and thought it could have a bit more seasoning (he also said that it would be improved with more pasta!!!) but it was enough for me. The lightly seasoned vegetables were a pleasant contrast to the well seasoned rice (I used more stock because my rice took so long to cook) and the tart cheesy topping.

However what was lovely about this was feeling it was almost a formula rather than a recipe. Seasoned rice on the bottom layer, vegetables in the middle layer and a creamy topping based on a white sauce. While the recipe is neither vegan nor gluten free, I could imagine a version with a soy milk, tahini and nutritional yeast flakes topping or even replacing the spoonful of flour with GF flour. And some different vegetables. Maybe some broccoli or pumpkin would be nice. The possibilities are endless.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
This time last year:
WHB Broccoli – brassica royalty
This time two years ago: Easy as Vegetable Pie
This time three years ago: SHF #34: Pumpkin scones

Russian style rice casserole
adapted from Cooking with Cranks
serves 6

Rice layer:

  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1 shallot (or small onion), finely chopped
  • 175g uncooked brown rice
  • 450ml vegetable stock
  • 1 egg (I forgot to add this)

Vegetable layer:

  • 1 leek, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • ¼ cabbage, sliced
  • 90g button mushrooms (about 5 -6)
  • 4 medium tomatoes
  • 1 clove garlic
  • generous pinch of salt (or to taste)
  • Worcestershire sauce, to taste (I didn’t use this but E thought it might have given the vegetables a bit more taste)

Cheesy topping

  • 1 dessertspoon butter
  • 1 dessertspoon wholemeal flour
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 2 tbsp chives
  • 2 tbsp dill
  • 150g cheddar cheese (I used a vintage)
  • 1 egg
  • sweet paprika to sprinkle over the top

To make rice layer: Fry shallot in butter until translucent. Add stock and rice. Bring to boil and simmer, covered, for about 30-40 minutes until rice has absorbed the stock and is soft. Add extra water if rice needs it. I probably added almost as much water as stock and cooked mine for about 1 hour because it took so long to soften. (Was it because of the salt in the home made stock?) Stir in egg, if using.

Meanwhile make vegetable layer: heat oil in a stockpot. Gently fry leeks, carrot and cabbage til soft and wilted. I am not sure how long mine took but I suspect it might have been about 30 minutes. I put away washing and prepared other vegetables while it cooked. Once done, add mushrooms, tomatoes, garlic and seasoning. E thought some Worcestershire sauce would be good but I just added a pinch of salt – I thought the rice had enough seasoning. Cook till mushrooms and tomatoes have softened (maybe 5-10 minutes).

To make cheese sauce, melt butter in a medium saucepan and stir in flour to make a roux. Stir the roux over low heat for a couple of minutes and then very gradually stir in the milk and sour cream. Bring to the boil, stirring frequently to avoid lumps. It should thicken slightly. Stir in cheese and herbs. Cool slightly and stir in egg.

To assemble, spread rice in the bottom of a greased 23cm square casserole dish. Spread the vegetable layer on top and then the cheese layer. Sprinkle with paprika. Cook at 200 C for about 30 minutes or until the top is lightly browned. I turned off the oven and left the casserole in it until we were ready to serve. I also heated in in the oven the next two nights – for about 30 minutes at 180 C each night.

On the stereo:
Winter Ruins: Shattered Hand & Strydwolf


  1. Can't explain it but this really appeals to me!

  2. I've never eaten anything like that, I don't think, but it really does sound like a good "formula" for using/not wasting veggies in the fridge!

    Can't wait to hear about the no knead bread... I've been meaning to try soda bread myself for yonks!

  3. Never seen a recipe like this before but it looks delicous and full of my favourite things. You are always so inventive with your meals.

  4. This looks fabulous - and the fact that it uses readily available ingredients is a bonus.

  5. Thanks Tanna - I feel the same way

    Thanks Hannah - I am always looking out for ways to use up vegies in the fridge - will try and post the bread soon but it is a yeasted bread not a soda one - though just as easy - honest!

    Thanks Katie - very kind!

    Thanks Cakelaw - always love a recipe where I don't have to hunt for ingredients!

  6. I love this "formula" for a casserole! And love that you use dessertspoons as a measure. It's hard for me to be so free and loose!

  7. I love dinners that come together that way in a single casserole--and the formula does sound delicious and infinitely adaptable. Glad it was a success (and yes, I bet a vegan version would be yummy!) :)

  8. I found this site just 5 minutes ago and I am already totally in LOVE!!!! I've shared it on FB,as I have many food nazi friends,most of whom, like myself, are tearing our hair out trying to prepare for the upcoming Eastern Orthodox Lenten Fast. I am currently drowning in my own saliva just thinking about making this recipe! When they say pictures are worth a thousand word, they ain't just a'whistlin Dixie!!!!(sorry, I'm a Yank). Please don't EVER go away!!!!


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