If you make one casserole this Fall, it’s got to be this one.
Guys, I ate the leftovers of this three days in a row and enjoyed every bite. Three days! That says a lot about this dish because I only usually eat leftovers the next day. I get bored easily with leftovers. Or the texture of the leftovers changes to the point where it’s unappealing to me. My husband even nicknamed himself “the leftover vacuum” because he’s usually the one who gets stuck eating all the leftovers. However, this cheesy zucchini chicken and rice bake is the exception and I happily ate the leftovers because it’s just that good.
You pan fry the zucchini, chicken, herbs, rice, and orzo first. I’ve never done that for rice and orzo and I’m impressed with how much flavor comes out. Then you add the broth and it all cooks in the skillet. After that comes the cheese. Cheese is so yummy. You could honestly stop right here. It’s cooked and you could serve it as is, but wait there’s more. Move it all to an oven safe dish (or if you used an oven safe cast iron skillet or something similar for the first part, then this recipe will only need a single pan!) and top it with more cheese and bake it until the cheese melts. The crispy pieces of things that are near the edges are always my favorite. Oh so good.
Cheesy Zucchini Chicken and Rice Bake Recipe
(Makes 6 servings)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 medium or 3 small size zucchini, chopped
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/2 of an onion, chopped
- 1 pound boneless chicken breast, cut into cubes
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 and 1/2 cups white rice
- 1/2 cup orzo pasta
- 1/2 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 3 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 3/4 cup Havarti cheese, shredded
- 3/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh scallions
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
- In a large pot/skillet, over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon of oil.
- Add the chopped zucchini to the skillet and season it with salt and pepper and cook until the zucchini is browned. Once it’s browned, remove the zucchini from the skillet and set it aside.
- Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the skillet and the chopped onion and cook until the onion is tender and slightly browned.
- Add the cubed chicken, season it with salt and pepper, and cook it until the chicken is seared (about 3 minutes). Note, you do not want to cook the chicken 100% at this step.
- Mix in the butter, minced garlic, rice, orzo, and thyme, and cook until the rice and orzo is toasted (about 3 minutes).
- Add in the chicken broth, increase the heat to high, and bring it to a boil.
- Stir in the cooked chopped zucchini and cayenne pepper into the skillet.
- Once the mixture is boiling, reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until the rice is done cooking. (Mine took 20 minutes.)
- Once the rice is done cooking then everything else will be done too. Turn off the heat.
- Mix in 1/2 cup of shredded Havarti cheese and 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese.
- Transfer the mixture to an oven safe 9 x 13 inch baking dish.
- Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of shredded Havarti cheese and 1/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese. Sprinkle the chopped scallions on top. (A little more doesn’t hurt. 😉 )
- Bake it in the preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted. (Mine took 10 minutes.)
- Switch the oven to broil and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes, until the cheese on top is slightly browned. Make sure you watch the dish at this step because broiling goes really quickly once it starts going.
Adapted from: Half Baked Harvest