Cheesy Rice and Bean Strata
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 😉 .
Turns 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
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.