Thursday 16 May 2024

Rice Bake with Chickpeas, Broccoli and Corn, and changes after Covid restrictions

As the days cool and the nights draw in earlier and earlier, I have found a favourite new casserole.  It is easy and warming and so satisfying with lots of vegies, chickpeas and rice.  It has been different every time I have made it in the last few weeks.  I have loved it every time!

It was so good that after two successful dinners of this Rice bake with Chickpeas, Broccoli and Corn, I made it early just so I could photograph it in daylight.  The nights are drawing in so quickly that I just got a few photos outside before darkness fell.

The photo above is my first go at the casserole.  It was in a baking dish.  I tried to place foil on top as directed but it didn't work well.  I also reduced the nutritional yeast flakes and added some cheese.  The result was great but a bit dry and under-seasoned.  I knew it could be better  So next time I used a casserole dish with a lid so I could cover it with foil and then place the lid on top (see below photo).  I used the full 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast flakes and added spring onions and corn.  It was brilliant but I had still added a handful of grated cheese.  Once I tried it again without cheese it was just right.

I have enjoyed making this casserole on days when Sylvia has been in her room reading and the house is peaceful.  But life is not usually so quiet.  There always seems to be plans, appointments and payments.  I love that this is the sort of dish I could leave baking in the oven while I ran out for an emergency purchase of cat food at five o'clock in the evening.  

I noticed the pet food shop didn't have any of the kitty litter we use and asked why.  I was afraid it could have been cancelled!  When I asked, I was told there was a shortage.  Isn't that a familiar tale these days!  As well as our kitty litter, the supermarket did not have red capsicums last week, olive oil shortages are in the news and Mae is writing about chocolate shortages on her blog.  It got me thinking about how life has changed since the end of Covid restrictions.

I do not claim we are living in a post-Covid world.  Three friends have had Covid recently.  It surprised me as I haven't heard about people I know having Covid for a while. Yet the Covid pandemic has changed our lives so much.  It is no so much the heath impacts that I have been thinking about, though I know they are very real and many.  Rather, the social changes are what are on my mind.

It surprised me to use a casserole dish with a lid rather than a roasting tin or baking tray.  Our eating has changed over the past few years.  Now we eat a lot more pasta - Sylvia loves pasta. It is easier to share it with her now she loves interesting sauces.  And I am obsessed with my cast iron frypan and cook lots on meals in it.  We both do.  There is a lot less baking and roasting.  

This casserole made me realise how long it has been since I cooked a meal in a casserole dish.  I used one at the front of the cupboard because it is my bread baking dish.  Sylvia used to hate casseroles but she is coming around to trying some.  Not only have I rarely baked casseroles lately, but I also rarely cook to entertain others in my home.  I miss it.  I was already doing less before Covid but the restrictions really got me out of any entertaining habits I had.  Now it is not so easy for a variety of reasons.

Another example of changes is the Pro-Palestine protest movement at universities.  University protests are not unusual.  But it is some time since they have been as prominent in the news as these.  It is also not so unusual to have people complaining about protesters because they are disruptive or aggressive.  What is unusual is to hear people welcoming how protests are bringing life back to university campuses in Melbourne.  

Since the Covid restrictions closed our campuses for months on end, students have been noticeably disengaged and campuses has been a lot quieter. It is such a change to see students in so many campuses being visible and vocal in their passion for social justice.  As my mum said to me when I first went to university, student life is about a lot more than just attending classes!  I just hope it does not end as badly here as some of the protests have in the USA.

And the digital world continues to change.  I applied for some volunteer work and could not find my Working with Children Check.  I was able to download it onto the governments Services Victoria app. I had not used the app for so long I had to log in again, or maybe I never did sign up to it.  I know I used it a lot right after the covid lockdowns.  I just could not remember why it had been such a big part of our life then.  Change keeps coming at us like the waves on a surf beach.  You just have to hope they are playful waves and not a riptide that could drag you under or leave you out at sea.  

The recipe that I altered to make the Rice Bake with Chickpeas, Broccoli and Corn was found by Sylvia on social media.  I have linked to the From My Bowl blog but many will see that recipe on video.  As I note all too regularly, blogging has changed so much since I started 17 years ago.  It has been interesting to have Sylvia finding a lot of recipes we make and how different they often are from the recipes I had been finding.  There are different trends with blog recipes now: prettier and a lot more recipe information than the less stories about the journeys by which a recipes was reached.  However I love so many of the recipes that Sylvia brings, including this one, that I can embrace this change!

This recipe is just great.  It actually reminds me of a lot of old school vegetarian recipes except it is called a "dump and bake" by Caitlin in From My Bowl.  Old school vegetarian recipes never seem to worry about how long things take.  They would probably just add extra time for soaking and cooking chickpeas!  I like the ease of leaving it to cook after the ingredients are in the casserole dish.  Actually I even bypassed Caitlin's directions to dry fry the nutritional yeast flakes first because it seemed too much work.  I really liked the spice mixture but had to add some lemon juice (nooch needs acid) and adjust the seasoning.  It is not cheesy but it is delicious. 

This recipe is wonderful just by itself but with simple sides such as salad and garlic bread, you would have an impressive meal for guests.  It is so adaptable that many variations are possible.  You can make it ahead, make it cheesy and indulgent or fill it with lots of vegetables.  Just look at the suggestions at the end of the recipe.  In these days of climate change and rising prices, we need to be able to adapt dinner to any change life throws us.

More rice bakes on Green Gourmet Giraffe blog:
The enchanted broccoli forest (gf)
Mediterranean rice slice (gf, v)
Rice and vegie bake
(gf, v)
Russian style rice casserole (gf)
Spinach rice gratin (gf)
Stuffed peppers with brown rice, nut roast and fennel
Vegetable nut crumble with rice

Rice bake with Chickpea, Broccoli and Corn

Adapted from From My Bowl
Serves 4

2 x 400g tins (or 3 cups) of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 large head of broccoli, chopped (about 2 cups)
1 spring onion, chopped
1 cob of corn kernels
1 cup uncooked brown rice
1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp stock powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp paprika
2 and 1/2 cups boiling water

Preheat oven to 220 C and boil the water.  Mix all ingredients in a casserole dish, preferably with a lid.  Add the boiling water last for the maximum benefit of the heat.  Check seasoning and adjust if necessary. Stir and cover tightly with aluminum foil and a lid if you have one.  Bake for 60 minutes.  The rice should be cooked through and most of the water absorbed when it is ready. 

Notes and variations:

  • Any tinned pulses can be used instead of chickpeas.  You could also use home cooked chickpeas or beans.
  • I usually microwave a cob of corn in its husk for 3.5 minutes but for this bake I microwaved it for 2.5 minutes.  I probably don't need to cook the corn first and will try that next time.
  • Other vegetables can be substituted of broccoli and corn.  I think capsicum, green peas, kale, pumpkin or silverbeet would work.  Or you could just use one vegetable such as broccoli.
  • Other grains such as quinoa or wild rice could be substituted for some of the rice.
  • If you don't have nutritional yeast flakes, you can substitute grated cheese.
  • Vinegar - such as apple cider vinegar - can be used instead of lemon juice.
  • Feel free to use other seasonings or less salt, as suits your taste. 
  • I have been stirring it halfway through but I don't think that is necessary.
  • Get creative with different themes.  For example, you could make it a tex mex bake, substitute black beans for chickpeas, cumin for turmeric, 1 cup salsa for 1 cup water. 

On the stereo:
Swamp Ophelia: Indigo Girls


  1. Love this recipe and its quick and easy preparation. I followed the recipe for all of the flavoring elements and corn, but I substituted asparagus for the broccoli, lentils for the chickpeas, and I tripled the spring onion. Delicious, with leftovers (for take to work lunch). Will make a tahini sauce to have with the leftovers. Very adaptable recipe. Thanks for sharing this.

  2. Hi Gina - thanks for letting me know how you made the recipe - glad it worked. I am definitely going to try more versions of it too. A tahini sauce with it sounds lovely.

  3. Oh yum! This looks good, I love a good dump and bake recipe. I still feel that covid is very much alive and kicking we just don't hear about it so much anymore.


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