South-Of-The-Border Zucchini Casserole

The zucchini harvest is in full swing around here, and so is the challenge to come up with yet another way to enjoy eating it.  Although I often associate it with and use it in Italian dishes, this week I wanted to change things up a bit and make it a part of a more spicy, south-of-the-border dish.  Using a recipe from allrecipes.com as a jumping off point, I used ingredients that  I had on hand to create a mildly-spicy and flavorful casserole that all of the family (even the picky eaters) really enjoyed.

Here’s the recipe:

2 tbsp olive oil

3 lbs. zucchini, diced, chopped, or shredded (the kids’ preferred way)

1 onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, chopped

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp dried oregano

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

2 tsp chili powder

1 1/2 cups cooked long-grain rice

2 cups cooked black beans (or pinto or peruano)

1 small can diced green chiles

1 8 oz. can tomato sauce

1 – 1 1/2 cups water (depending on constistency you like)

1 1/2 tsp chicken bullion powder

1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2.  Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onions and cook and stir for about 5 minutes.  Add garlic, chili powder, and cayenne pepper and cook about 3 more minutes.  Add zucchini and cook and stir about 5 minutes more, adding in oregano during last minute or so.  Mix in rice, beans, green chiles, tomato sauce, water and chicken bullion powder and cook just until heated through and mixed well.  Turn off heat and mix in one cup of cheese until well blended.

3.  Transfer mixture to a 9 x 13 inch baking dish and top with remaining cheese.  Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes.

I made this with diced zucchini.  The kids said they liked the taste, but not the texture.  Next time, I will peel the zucchini (to get rid of the slight crunchiness  that the kids said didn’t “go with the other, soft textures” and either chop it into smaller pieces or shred it to make it almost completely disappear (while still retaining the nutritional value).

All food groups are represented in this dish, so it makes a complete meal all by itself.   We served it with corn tortilla chips, and made even the serving utensils obsolete!

As leftovers, I think it’ll make a great burrito filling, too.

Yum.

Lunch, anyone?

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