Hey, hey everyone – welcome to the start of a short week! How was your Labor Day weekend?
Honestly I kept forgetting the holiday was coming and didn’t make any super exciting plans, but we filled our days up nonetheless! Ben and I (deck) sailed into the long weekend with wine for her and brewskies for him on the back porch Friday evening, listening to cicadas until the sun went down. Which, did you know that’s when cicadas stop buzzing? Literally when the sun goes down. #thingsibringtothetable
Saturday we watched college football all day (GO HAWKEYES! Woo, what a way to kickoff the season!) then hung out at Bethany & Nick’s house out in the beautiful countryside that evening. It was such a fun night letting the kids play together until Lincoln had an allergic reaction to something and got itchy hives all over his face and neck. Poor thing! We gave him Benedryl but packed it in a little early to make sure we were close to home in case things got worse. Thankfully after an hour and 15 minute drive he was completely back to normal. I tell you what, food allergies – they. just. suck!
Luckily he was fully recovered and able to visit Camp Nana and Papa the next day so I could grind on work stuff (got a HUGE project out the door that I can’t wait to fill you in on!) and Ben could get a few projects done around the house. Yesterday we just hung around – nothing special! A little bit of labor and laziness to celebrate the unofficial end of summer. Doesn’t the 4th of July feel like it was just days ago?!
While I don’t think the weather Gods will have us packing away our flip flops and sunscreen just yet (holy humidity,) evenings are predicted to be cooling off this week which is getting me a teensy bit excited to have an excuse to make big bubbling casseroles like Creamy French Onion Mushroom Rice Casserole for dinner!
Did you grow up in a casserole family? I didn’t, save for my Mom’s occasional incredible lasagna, which is why I think I love them so much as an adult. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, or something like that. Maybe it’s just in my soul. I’ve never believed harder in nature vs nurture since having a child. We are ingrained with so many quirks and mannerisms before even taking our first breath – could some of us be born casserole lovers??
I kid, I kid – but seriously, Lincoln’s love of peas didn’t come from me!
Anyway, this casserole is ultra special because it’s not only creamy and comforting, but it tastes like delicious, kicked-up French Onion Soup. I used to order French Onion Soup at T.G.I.Fridays (R.I.P.) in high school like it was my job (it was actually my brother’s job to serve said ordered soup in high school – eek!) Savory, satisfying, and most importantly cheesy to the max. Is there anything better than digging into a steaming bowl of French Onion Soup then having a string of ooey-gooey cheese following the spoon to your mouth? Maybe when it’s coming from a big plate of rice casserole instead.
I am a huge fan of soup but giving this classic a little spin to create a meatless main dish is extra fun. Leftovers are absolutely delicious and if you like the flavor of French Onion Soup, but don’t like the big slices of onion that are usually inside, the sweet onions in this dish are chopped then simmered and sauteed in broth until tender and melty. So much win (and garlicky mushrooms, too!) Hope you’ll give this dish a try!
Start by cooking the savory French onions. That’s just 1 jumbo or 2 small sweet onions simmered in 3 Tablespoons butter, 1/2 cup beef broth, 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme, 1/2 teaspoon sugar, 1 bay leaf, salt, pepper, and a partridge in a pear tree. Seriously, it might sound like a lot, but these are all ingredients I usually have on hand in the fridge and pantry so it comes together in no time. Cook for about 10 minutes or until the onions are beginning to soften and nearly all the broth is absorbed.
Meanwhile bring 3-1/2 cups chicken broth to a boil then add 2 cups long grain white rice like basmati or jasmine rice, turn the heat down to medium, then cook until the rice is al dente, about 15 minutes. Let it sit off the heat for about 5 minutes then fluff with a fork and set aside.
Once the onions have softened a bit add 8oz thinly sliced mushrooms then cook until all the vegetables are tender, 5-7 minutes. Add 3 cloves minced garlic, tons of salt and pepper, and then saute for 1 more minute before scooping the mixture onto a plate. French onions and mushrooms = done!
In the same skillet over medium-high heat add 5 teaspoons gluten-free or all-purpose flour (dish will not be GF if using AP flour,) whisked with 1/2 cup milk. You can use any milk you have on hand – I used almond milk! I also recommend Bob’s Red Mill Sweet Rice Flour if you’re looking for a good gluten-free flour to cook with (versus a blend for baking.) It’s perfect for thickening soups and sauces like this one.
Add an additional 1-1/2 cups milk to the skillet plus salt and pepper then simmer until thickened and bubbly.
Take the sauce off the heat then stir in 4oz shredded fontina cheese, 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, and 1/3 cup regular or low-fat sour cream. Stir until super smooth then taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary.
Everybody into the pool! To the cheese sauce add the cooked rice and French onion mushroom mixture, then stir until evenly mixed.
Scoop into a baking dish then top with more fontina and parmesan cheeses, then broil until golden brown and bubbly. Although it’s not French Onion Soup, that bubbly cheesy crust sure had me fooled for a second!!
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Creamy French Onion and Mushroom Rice Casserole
Creamy French Onion Mushroom Rice Casserole is a warming and delicious meatless casserole that will fill your house with the savory scent of French Onion Soup!
- 3-1/2 cups gluten-free chicken broth
- 2 cups long grain white rice like jasmine or basmati
- 3 Tablespoons butter
- 1 jumbo sweet onion or 2 small sweet onions, chopped
- 1/2 cup gluten-free beef broth
- 1 Tablespoon gluten-free Worcestershire sauce (I like Lea & Perrins)
- 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 bay leaf
- salt and pepper
- 8oz mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 5 teaspoons gluten-free sweet white rice flour or all-purpose flour (dish will not be GF if using AP flour)
- 2 cups milk, divided (I used almond milk)
- 6oz shredded fontina cheese, divided
- 1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese, divided
- 1/3 cup regular or light sour cream
- Spray a 8x8" baking dish (or equivalent-sized baking dish) with nonstick spray then set aside. Place a large skillet over high heat then add butter, onions, beef broth, worcestershire sauce, dried thyme, sugar, bay leaf, salt, and pepper. Bring liquid to a boil then turn heat down to just a touch above medium and simmer until onions begin to soften and broth is nearly absorbed, 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Meanwhile, bring chicken broth to a boil in a medium-sized saucepan then add rice, place a lid on top, turn heat down to medium, and then cook until al dente, 13-15 minutes. Let rice sit covered and off the heat for 5 minutes then fluff with a fork and let sit with the lid off.
- Add mushrooms to skillet with onions then turn heat up to medium-high and saute until mushrooms are tender, 5-7 minutes. Add garlic, season with salt and pepper, then saute for 1 more minute. Remove bay leaf then scoop mixture onto a plate and set aside.
- Whisk together flour and 1/2 cup milk in a small dish then pour into skillet. Add remaining 1-1/2 cups milk, season with lots of salt and pepper, then let the mixture come to a bubble, stirring constantly. Turn heat down to medium then simmer until liquid is thickened and bubbly, 8-10 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove skillet from heat then stir in 4oz fontina cheese, 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, and sour cream. Taste then add salt and pepper if necessary.
- Add the cooked rice and mushroom/onion mixture to the cheese sauce then stir to combine and scoop into the prepared baking dish. Top with remaining shredded fontina and parmesan cheese, then broil until golden brown.
This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.