Updated: May 8
For many, the word casserole brings to mind images of mysterious food mixtures, often topped with a thick layer of melted cheese, as if to hide what lies underneath. It’s true. Casseroles can be scary!
Try for a moment though, to keep an open mind and accept the fact that some casseroles are actually NOT gross. A well- chosen blend of quality whole grain, along with vegetables, protein and delicious sauces or seasonings may actually turn out to be your next favorite dinner indulgence.
With limited trips to the grocery store these days, a casserole is a great way to use items that are already on hand. Casseroles are especially forgiving, so feel free to tweak your recipe and to make substitutions as needed.
Asian casserole is full of colorful vegetables. This recipe uses traditional Asian vegetables (mushrooms, cabbage, celery, peppers, etc.), but it is fine to swap them out for most any other veggies. For example, I did not have water chestnuts so I used thinly sliced radishes instead!
If a vegetarian or even a vegan meal is needed simply replace the meat with cooked egg or tofu. For a low carb or reduced- carb version cauliflower “rice” may replace the brown rice or other whole grain. In the Asian casserole shown in the picture, I used ½ cup of cooked brown rice and 2 ½ cups of cooked cauliflower rice.
3 cups brown rice or any whole grain, or may substitute with cauliflower “rice”
1 cup of any cooked meat (ground sausage, chopped chicken, shrimp, etc.) OR 4 scrambled eggs (chopped) OR one block of extra firm tofu, pressed, cooked and cut into small pieces
4 tablespoons of sesame, coconut, canola or avocado oil
2 large carrots, very thinly sliced
2 large stalks of celery, thinly sliced
6 green onions, cut into very thin pieces
8 large mushrooms, sliced
½ cup water chestnuts (thinly sliced fresh radishes are a great substitute)
1 large green, yellow or red bell pepper, chopped (a bit of chopped jalapeno pepper adds just a touch of heat if desired)
2 cups of cabbage (very thinly sliced)
1 tablespoon of garlic power
2 tablespoons soy sauce
One tablespoon fresh ginger OR 1 teaspoon ginger powder
Pepper to taste
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
Place cooked rice, grain or cauliflower “rice” into a very large mixing bowl.
Add meat (or protein option of choice) to the bowl and mix well
Heat oil in very large skillet (or wok).
When oil is hot, add all vegetables and stir-fry until crisp tender (reduce heat if needed).
Turn off the heat and add the garlic powder, soy sauce, ginger and pepper. Mix well.
Transfer the vegetables into the mixing bowl.
Stir until well blended (may add a bit of salt if needed at this point)
Carefully scrape into a large casserole or baking dish.
Bake for 20 minutes.
For added flavor and crunch, sprinkle with toasted sunflower seeds before serving.
Written by Jenny Favret, MS, RD, LDN
Nutritionist, Duke Pediatrics Healthy Lifestyles Program