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Cheesy Rice and Bean Strata

September 13, 2009

I’ll go ahead and admit it here.  I thought that strata implied eggs. You know, how milkshake implies milk and ice cream?  I confidently (and foolishly) assumed that strata was a breakfast food, possibly a brunch-time-munch, served at baby showers at the like.

And then I ran across a Cooking Light recipe for strata.  And I saw no eggs.  No breakfasty aura.  Certainly nothing you’d eat at a baby shower.  All of which was good, since I don’t rightly care for room temperature eggs anyway 😉 .

strataTurns out, strata simply is used to refer to any layered dish.  So, my mashed potato lasagna should be reclassified as a strata rather than a lasagna.  But what’s in a name?  And to be honest, this dish is basically a casserole.  But you know what?  I bet CookingLight has discovered the stigma of casserole-named-dishes and chose the strata approach.

So, if you are in the mood for a one-dish-casserole OR a fancy-schmancy-strata, this meal is for you.

This recipe is so flavorful.  I adapted it significantly from CookingLight.  It could definitely be made in advance, and you may prefer to make it that way, since it takes significant hands-on time in the kitchen.  It is perfect for using up leftover rice or beans.  And I love the way a layer of spinach and fresh tomatoes is sneaked in amidst the carbolicious rice and beans.

Rice and Bean Strata (4 servings)
2.5 cups cooked brown rice
2 cups cooked beans (pinto or kidney)
1 can Rotel-style canned tomatoes, divided
1 cup chopped onion
1 clove minced garlic
1/4 tsp ground cumin
5 oz fresh spinach, washed and chopped
1 cup cheddar cheese
2 medium tomatoes, cut into rounds
chopped scallions

For the mole sauce topping (optional)
1/2 can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped onions
1 clove garlic, quartered
1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tablespoons raisins
1/2 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground coriander

In a bowl, mix beans with 1/2 can of chili-ready tomatoes.

Puree remaining tomatoes with mole sauce ingredients.  Simmer stove top 20 minutes (do this later, while the strata is baking).

Saute minced onion and garlic for 3 minutes, adding cumin at the end.  Incorporate washed, chopped spinach into the pan and cook until wilted.

In an 8×8″ casserole sprayed with cooking spray, layer 1.5 cups rice.  Top with 1/2 of bean-tomato mixture.  Add the spinach layer and top with tomato rounds.  Finish the layers with another 1 cup of rice and the remaining bean and tomato mixture.  Bake, covered, at 350* for 30 minutes.  Then, remove cover, add 1 cup shredded cheese, and bake until melted.  Garnish with scallions.  Serve with 2 T mole sauce per plate.


2 Comments leave one →
  1. Becca :-) permalink
    September 16, 2009 5:17 pm

    Yum!! This looks good!! Glad there are no room temp eggs!!
    I was reading the instructions…is is really 1.2 T raisins…that is pretty precise:-) Can I around up or down??

    • brannyboilsover permalink*
      September 16, 2009 5:37 pm

      As you know, precision and proper documentation is a must. No rounding.
      J/k Thanks for bringing that typo to my attention. The recipe has been changed to read 1/2 Tablespoon.

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