Baked green rice

(Food styling/karoline boehm goodnick; John tlumacki/globe staff)
By Allison Boomer
Globe Correspondent / January 7, 2009

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Serves 6

You can take any old-fashioned dish and add a healthy spin. This baked green rice casserole is adapted from a 1967 edition of "The Joy of Cooking." Instead of the original white rice called for, use brown. In place of parsley, add plenty of fresh spinach. Frozen, thawed spinach works just as well; in either case, thoroughly dry the spinach before using it (a salad spinner for fresh spinach and a sieve for thawed). With brown rice, there are few shortcuts. It takes 40 minutes to cook it until tender, and after you add spinach, eggs, milk, and cheese, the casserole bakes for up to an hour, so plan accordingly. If you have leftover rice on hand, you can use that too. The recipe is flexible in other ways; sharp cheese can be substituted for the Parmesan, and squares of extra rice reheat nicely in the microwave.

Olive oil (for the pan)
4 1/4 cups water
Salt, to taste
2 cups long-grain brown rice, rinsed
2 eggs
2 cups milk
1 bunch (1 pound) fresh spinach, rinsed, stemmed, and chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 cup grated Parmesan
1. Set the oven at 325 degrees. Oil an 8-by-12-inch baking dish or another dish with a 1 1/2-quart capacity.

2. In a saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Add a generous pinch of salt. Pour in the rice, lower the heat, and cover the pan. Simmer, without stirring, for 40 minutes. The rice is done when all water has been absorbed and the grains are tender. Use 2 forks to fluff the rice.

3. In large bowl beat the eggs. Add the milk, spinach, garlic, onion, rice, and all but 3 tablespoons of the cheese. Transfer the mixture to the baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining 3 tablespoons cheese.

4. Bake the dish for 45 to 60 minutes or until the custard is set and the top is brown.