I wasn’t sure what to call this dish. It’s a total hodge-podge of delicious veggies, cheese, brown rice and turkey sausage that turned out absolutely amazing.
I used sweet Italian sausage and whatever veggies I had left in my fridge, which meant zucchini, matchstick carrots, broccoli, and red and green bell peppers (fresh from our garden!). I would’ve loved to add an onion but wasn’t so lucky and I definitely wasn’t running to the store.
This is another two-step dish that takes a little time but certainly isn’t difficult.
First, I heated the chicken broth in a saucepan and diced up all of my veggies. I dumped the veggies, rice and boiling chicken broth into a 9×13″ pan, covered it with foil and threw it all in the oven for about 45 minutes. Then, I removed the foil and let it bake for another 10-15 minutes, until all the broth was absorbed. You may need to keep it in longer depending on the type of rice you use. I used long-grain brown rice.
Now you have two tasks: the sausage and the cheese sauce. I tackled the sausage first. I cut the casing of the sausages and pulled out the ground meat. I thought this would be much more difficult and time-consuming than it was – but it ended up really simple.
Just pull out the meat and add it to a skillet, and brown it like you would ground beef. If you can find ground turkey sausage, go for it. It’ll save you this step. I couldn’t.
After it’s browned, remove it to a bowl for later.
You should have plenty of time while the rice is still cooking to make your cheese sauce next. In a small saucepan (I used the same pan I’d heated my chicken broth in), mix together your milk and flour over a low heat until it’s thickened, about 4-5 minutes.
Add a can (or frozen, if that’s your thing) of corn and a cup of shredded pepper jack cheese. Mix until it’s creamy and melty. Yes, melty.
Pull out the rice and veggie mixture when it’s ready (all liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender and ready to eat), and dump the cheese sauce mixture and sausage on top. Mix it all up together. Inhale because it smells awesome.
After it’s well mixed, add spoonfuls of low-fat cream cheese (or full-fat, if you’re going for it) randomly around the top. Sprinkle with the remainder of the pepper jack cheese, and pop it back in the oven for 10-15, until the cheese is melted.
After you pull it out, let it sit for 5 minutes or so to both cool down and to blend a little more. Serve and enjoy. This is another one of those dishes I love because the entire family eats it – and their veggies – without complaining.
- 1 1/2 cups long-grain brown rice
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 1-2 diced zucchini and/or summer squash
- 2 red or green bell peppers, chopped
- 1 large onion, diced
- 3/4 teaspoons salt
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 3 tbsps all-purpose flour
- 2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese, divided
- 1 can corn, drained
- 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 package turkey sausage, casings removed
- 1 package cream cheese
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Pour rice into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Bring broth to a simmer in a small saucepan. Stir hot broth into the rice along with zucchini (and/or squash), bell peppers, onion, and salt. Cover with foil. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking until the rice is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed, 10-20 minutes more.
- Meanwhile, whisk milk and flour in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until bubbling and thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Add 1 1/2 cups Jack cheese and corn and cook, stirring, until the cheese is melted. Set aside.
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add sausage. Cook, stirring and breaking the sausage into small pieces with a spoon, until lightly browned and no longer pink, about 4 minutes.
- When the rice is done, stir in the sausage and cheese sauce. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup Jack cheese on top and dollop cream cheese by the teaspoonful over the casserole.
- Return the casserole to the oven and bake until the cheese is melted, about 10 minutes. Let stand for about 10 minutes before serving.