It’s cold, people! This is not news to you, of course. But the weather is making me want to stay indoors, fire up the oven and make something super comforting for dinner. Fortunately, comforting doesn’t have to equal calorie-laden. I recently revisited this favorite recipe for broccoli-rice bake that’s based on low-fat dairy and full of filling fiber and healthful vitamins. You could make this with whole-milk ricotta, yogurt and cheese, of course. But the lower-fat version doesn’t lose any flavor or richness at all. It’s just so, so good.
low-fat broccoli and brown rice bake
2 cups total of any of the following: cooked wild, white or brown rice; farro or barley; orzo pasta
1 head of broccoli, tender stems and florets chopped into roughly 1/4-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 teaspoon seasoned salt (I use Jane's Crazy Mixed-up Salt)
1/2 cup part-skim or low-fat ricotta cheese
1/4 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon minced fresh basil
2/3 cup shredded lower-fat cheese of your choice
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Preheat oven to 350°; spray a 1.5-quart baking dish with nonstick spray. In a large lidded sauté pan, warm a generous tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add onion and stir to coat with oil; reduce heat to medium and sauté until translucent and fragrant, about 8 minutes. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute. Add chopped broccoli stems and florets (if the pan seems to need a bit more oil, go ahead and add some), raise the heat to medium-high and stir-fry the broccoli for 2 to 3 minutes, until it just begins to brown slightly. Add 2 tablespoons of water to the pan and quickly cover; steam the broccoli until it's just tender, about 2 minutes. Taste the vegetables and add seasoned salt (I like Jane's) and pepper to taste.
In a small bowl, whisk together the ricotta, yogurt and egg until well-combined. In a large mixing bowl, combine cooked rice or orzo, cooked vegetables and basil. Add ricotta mixture and 1/2 of the cheese, and stir gently to combine. Transfer mixture to the prepared baking dish; top with remaining cheese, then cover the pan with a piece of foil that you've spritzed with a little baking spray. Bake for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and bake 20 more minutes, until the cheese begins to brown in spots.