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Zucchini and Rice Casserole

Serves 4 as a main dish

This zucchini and rice casserole recipe is an excellent choice for a vegetarian main dish, but it can also be served as a side dish. It can be prepared ahead and is always welcomed at a potluck event as a lighter alternative to most casseroles. You can use long grain white rice or choose brown rice for a healthier dish. Yellow squash can be substituted for the zucchini.

   Breadcrumb Topping

Prepare rice according to package directions and set aside to cool slightly. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, then the peppers and onions. Sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, then the zucchini. Season with the thyme, 1 teaspoon of the oregano, salt and pepper. Sauté until slightly tender, about 20 minutes, adjusting temperature as needed. Add the tomatoes, the remaining teaspoon of oregano, and additional salt and pepper. Cook over high heat just until tomatoes are broken down and slightly reduced.

Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly grease a 13x9x2-inch baking dish. In a large bowl, combine the cooked rice and zucchini mixture. Add the cheeses and stir well to combine. Place in the baking dish. In a small bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs, Parmesan, oregano, thyme and olive oil. Sprinkle evenly on top of the casserole. Bake until browned and bubbly, about 25 minutes.

Notes: Casserole can be assembled ahead and refrigerated. Cover tightly with foil for the first 15 minutes of baking, then uncover and continue to bake until browned and bubbly. Leftovers reheat nicely in the microwave or in the oven, covered.