The basis for this idea comes from a meal my wife’s grandma has perfected: Zucchini Casserole. Hers is a glorious mixture of venison, zucchini, rice, and an ingredient I never would have thought to add to make it creamy but not liquidy…Cottage Cheese! We’ve “stolen” her cottage cheese concept before to make Alpine Tater Tot Casserole, but this time, we wanted to turn it into something a little closer to her aforementioned masterpiece.
The biggest changes we made to her dish is that we swapped out the zucchini for cremini mushrooms (my wife’s grandpa sent us home with a solid 5 pounds of them the other day…trust me, I weighed them because I was so overwhelmed by the quantity and didn’t know what else to do at first!). We also decided to get a little (a lot?) sneaky and hide a bunch of green cabbage into the casserole (which managed to go undetected during the “devour and enjoy” steps of the recipe) to increase the nutritional value with a green veggie since we didn’t use zucchini.
Time: 60 Minutes
Ingredients: (makes 4 servings)
- 1 Cup Rice (uncooked)
- 8-12 oz Ground Venison (Beef will work too)
- A Leek
- 8-10 Cremini Mushrooms
- 1/2 Sweet Onion
- 1/4 Head of Green Cabbage
- 16 oz Cottage Cheese
- Shredded Mozzarella or Cheddar
- Black Pepper
- Heat some olive oil in a pot, and when it’s hot, add your rice. Stir as it cooks in the oil until it becomes slightly opaque. Then, add about 2 cups of water, turn the heat to low, and put a lid on your pot.
- Prep your leek by cutting off the bulb and the darker green leafy area so that you’re left with the whitish/lime green stalk. Then, cut that in half lengthwise, and wash to remove any dirt that may be stuck between the layers. Slice into thin strips.
- Dice your onion, slice your cabbage thinly, and slice your mushrooms.
- Heat a large cast iron pan, and heat some butter or olive oil in it. Then, add your diced onion and leek. Cook until your onions become opaque.
- Add in your cabbage, and cook until it begins to soften.
- Add your ground venison into the pan along with some black pepper, and cook to brown. As it cooks, add in your mushrooms, and stir to combine.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
- When your rice and venison/veggie mixture are both done, pour into a large mixing bowl, and scoop in your cottage cheese. Mix to fully incorporate.
- Scoop your casserole mixture into an oven safe casserole dish, top it with cheese, and stash it in the oven for 15-20 minutes to get everything nice and hot and to melt your cheese.
- Plate, devour, and enjoy!