Baked Basmati Rice with Leeks and White Beans
I use to look at leeks and wonder what to do with them. Of course, I knew of leek soup but I always thought there must be a higher purpose for leeks. It took me a while (actually, a few years) but I found the perfect use for leeks in a side dish I call Baked Basmati Rice with Leeks and White Beans.
A while back, the New York Times printed a recipe for “Baked Rice With White Beans, Leeks, and Lemons” because commenters “have gone wild for this easy, hands-off, vegetarian main course…” That’s all I needed to read before deciding this was it. However, I had to figure out a way to make this recipe plant-based and a bit healthier: greatly reduce the olive oil (from 5 tablespoons to a few sprays), replace the white Basmati Rice with Brown Rice Basmati for more fiber, and ditch the parmesan (and use vegan parmesan made from cashews, sparingly).
I also eliminated the raw almonds and instead decided to use Roasted and Spice Almonds from Our Daily Eats (sliced almonds that have been roasted with maple syrup, cayenne, and sea salt), use low sodium vegetable broth instead of water, and skip the red pepper flakes and instead use a savory spice blend – all of which enhanced the flavor of this super easy-to-make casserole.
The following recipe is a great side dish but can also be made into a main course by adding steamed vegetables (broccoli florets, zucchini, green beans, etc) or mixing in greens (i.e. kale, spinach) at the end so that the vegetables don’t get overcooked and that the greens simply wilt. The key is cooking the casserole long enough for the rice to absorb the liquid and for guidance on that, use the amount of time recommended on the rice bag. Although the NYT recipe recommends cooking the casserole for 20-22 minutes, I had to increase the time to 40 minutes (which is the recommended amount of time on the back of my rice packet).
And, for the perfect serving suggestion, sprinkle the almonds on the top right before serving along with some vegan parmesan cheese (available at most grocery stores in the vegan cheese section), if desired.
Baked Basmati Rice with Leeks and White Beans (serves 8 as a side dish or 4 as a main course)
- 4 leeks, white and very pale green parts only, washed, sliced in half and then in 1/4 inch slices
- 1 lemon
- 1-1/2 cups uncooked Brown Basmati Rice
- 2-3/4 cups low sodium vegetable broth, boiling
- 1 15-ounce can low sodium cannellini beans, rinsed
- 1-1/2 teaspoons savory spice blend or your favorite spice blend
- 1-2 tablespoons fresh chopped flat leaf parsley or 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1/2 cup vegan parmesan, optional
- 1/4 cup of slivered roasted almonds
- salt and pepper
- Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Line a medium sized baking pan with parchment paper.
- Lightly spray the bottom of the parchment paper with olive oil.
- Arrange the sliced leeks across the parchment paper.
- Using a vegetable peeler, peel the lemon zest (skin) off the top of the lemon (wrap and save the rest of the lemon for another use). Using a knife cut the pieces into small strips or pieces and sprinkle over the leeks. Spray the leeks and lemon zest lightly with olive oil spray.
- Roast for about 20 minutes until the leeks just start to caramelize.
- Spray a 9 by 11 inch baking dish lightly with olive oil.
- Remove the leeks/lemon zest from the oven. Carefully life up the parchment paper and pour into the baking dish.
- Sprinkle the rice evenly over the leek and lemon zest mixture.
- Sprinkle the savory spice blend over the beans along with a touch of salt and pepper.
- Pour the boiling vegetable broth over the mixture and then seal the pan tightly with foil.
- Bake until the rice is tender – about 40 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and let sit covered for 5 minutes and then fluff with a fork. Sprinkle with the parsley, almonds and vegan parmesan, if using, and serve.