There aren't many casserole dishes I love. This is the exception. It's fabulous tasting and easy. I found it on tastespotting and revamped it to make it even easier.
And I made it with chicken, so it's lighter while still having all the flavor. Here's what I did. In a large casserole dish place two halves of chicken breasts with the onion, spices and tomato sauce in the oven covered with foil and bake for an hour and a half at 325 degrees. Remove dish from the oven and let it cool a bit. Dice chicken and mix back in with the sauce. Layer it on the bottom of an 11 x 11 casserole dish. Top chicken with a sprinkle of cheese (out of the 2 cups you have set aside). Next, mix together cooked rice, beans and cilantro. Add that on top of the chicken and top with a sprinkle of cheese. Add sliced tomatoes and top with the rest of the cheese. Place in the oven at 350 for 25 minutes, remove foil. Let cook for 5 minutes longer. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes longer, sprinkle with cilantro. Serve with toppings of guacomole, salsa, chopped cilantro and sour cream. Simply delicious. The tastespotting recipe follows below.
Mexican Rice Casserole
1 1/2 cups of white rice, prepared per instructions
1 tsp of olive oil
1 lb lean ground beef (I used 96/4)
1/2 sweet yellow onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp dried cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2-1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste
1 15 oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 15 oz can of tomato sauce
3-4 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped (divided)
1-2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese
3-4 tomatoes, sliced thickly
Sour cream (topping)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare rice per instructions. While the rice is cooking heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once the skillet is hot, add the ground beef, making sure to break it up into crumbles. Cook the beef for 3-4 minutes then add the diced onion and all of the seasonings. Stir until well combined and cook for an additional 10 minutes or until the beef is cooked through and the onion is tender. Add the minced garlic and cook, stirring constantly for an additional 60 seconds. Add the cooked rice, drained and rinsed black beans, tomato sauce and a bit of cilantro (reserving some for garnishing) to the beef and onion mixture. Mix the ingredients thoroughly, taste and re-season if needed.
Coat a large baking dish with cooking spray and pour the rice mixture into the dish, spreading it evenly. Place the tomato slices on top of the rice mixture then top with cheddar cheese.
Spray a piece of tin foil with cooking spray (so the cheese won't stick) and cover the baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes then remove the tin foil. Bake for an additional 5-7 minutes or until the cheese is melted and golden brown. Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes before slicing. Top with a dollop of sour cream and the remaining chopped cilantro. Enjoy.