Casserole or Hotdish?
As much as I love seasonal recipes, you can never go wrong with a yummy, hardy casserole. Casseroles know no season! In Minnesota, where I grew up, we called them “hotdish” as did most North Dakota. A traditional hotdish consists of a can of cream of mushroom soup that binds three essential components: starch, protein, and vegetable. Casserole is the French word for saucepan but morphed into a cooking term broadly used for many recipes cooked in the oven in a large deep pan. As this recipe does NOT have cream of mushroom soup, I opted to call it a casserole.
Oh, don’t get me wrong. Just because this doesn’t have a can of cream soup does not make this any healthier (although it cuts down on added sodium)! Instead of the soup, the creaminess comes from a half cup each of mayo and sour cream. The richness and creaminess of these ingredients give this dish a delicious flavor that cream soup can’t match.
This casserole is power-packed with vegetables! I chose a combination of colors, textures, and flavors that meld together brilliantly. Feel free to mix and match the veggies to your taste. Carrots would be a great addition or substitution. I’m not a huge fan of peas in casseroles (it’s a thing with me), but they would also work well. Give yourself ample time to prep the veggies. Depending on your chopping skills, this can take anywhere from 15 – 30 minutes.
Pre-cut veggies will speed things up, as well as using frozen or canned vegetables. While I’m a huge advocate for fresh veggies, I used canned mushrooms – you can’t tell the difference.
Time saver: Cooked Frozen Shrimp
Frozen shrimp is a staple in my freezer. It’s low in calories and fat and thaws quickly. I use cooked, peeled, and deveined frozen shrimp (buy it when it’s on sale.) I thawed it in cold water while prepping the veggies.
Chicken works great in this recipe if you’re not a shrimp person. Store-bought rotisserie chicken is perfect for this! Ham also works. There’s virtually nothing that you can’t throw into a casserole!
Along with chopping the veggies and prepping the shrimp, the broccoli needs blanching. It’s a quick and easy process. Place the chopped broccoli in a microwave-safe bowl or large measuring cup with a splash of water. Nuke it for about 2 minutes until it’s bright green. Give it a rinse under COLD water and let it drain. Blanching prevents the broccoli from turning an ugly, dull green color. If you’re in a hurry, you can skip this step and saute the broccoli with the other veggies, but it’s not going to look very appetizing.
Putting it all together
Saute all the other vegetables in a large skillet with some butter; when they are tender, add the flour and seasoning. The sauce comes together when the milk is gradually stirred in and cooked for a couple of minutes. Then everybody joins the party – add the rice, mayo, sour cream, shrimp, half the cheese, and the blanched broccoli.
Pour the mixture into the prepared baking pan and cook in a preheated 350˚F oven for 30 minutes or so.
Remove from the oven, sprinkle on the breadcrumb/cheese mixture, and pop under the broiler until golden brown – about 2 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley flakes, if desired. This hearty casserole will easily feed eight people or make enough for two dinners for four.
Cheesy Veggie, Rice and Shrimp CasseroleCourse: MainCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Easy
This veggie-packed shrimp and rice casserole makes a delicious family dinner or a great addition to a holiday buffet.
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup diced celery
4 oz sliced mushrooms (fresh or canned)
2 garlic cloves, minced
5 sweet mini peppers 1 large green pepper, chopped
3 cups fresh broccoli florets (about 2 heads)
1 pound cooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (tails removed)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons butter, divided
1 medium onion, chopped
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1-1/3 cups milk
3 cups cooked rice
1 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
2 cups (8 oz.) shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, divided
Optional: Parsley flakes for garnish
- Prep: Preheat oven to 350°. Prep vegetables. Prep shrimp. Generously coat a 9×13 baking pan with non-stick spray. Microwave broccoli, 1/4 cup water, and the remaining 1/2 tsp. kosher salt in a covered microwave-safe bowl at HIGH about 2 minutes or just until broccoli is tender and bright green. Drain, rinse under COLD water and pat broccoli dry – set aside. Melt 2 Tbsp. butter. Combine melted butter with panko and 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese – set aside.
- In a large skillet melt 4 tablespoons of butter, add onion, mushrooms, celery, garlic, and sweet peppers (do not add the broccoli), and saute until tender. Stir in the flour, salt, and cayenne until combined. Gradually add milk until blended. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Add rice, mayonnaise, sour cream, 1 cup cheese, shrimp, and broccoli; stir until combined.
- Pour into a 1-1/2-qt. baking dish coated with cooking spray. Cover and bake at 325° for 30-35 minutes or until heated through. Remove from oven and top with breadcrumb mixture, sprinkle with parsley flakes, if desired for added color. Place under broiler for 1-3 minutes until crumbs are golden brown.
- Rice: 3 cups of cooked rice is 1 cup uncooked
- Sweet mini peppers: Substitute 1 large bell pepper, any color
- Panko breadcrumbs: substitute regular breadcrumbs
- Shrimp: substitute chunk or shredded chicken (or turkey) or chopped ham