The other day I had a chat with a young woman who had experienced extreme success in her business, gaining world renown in five short years. I asked her the secret to her very quick success. Without a beat, she said something like, “I don’t compare myself to others. I stay in my own lane, and rabidly pursue my vision and definition of success.” Wise words. I think on that often, in a world where it’s easier than ever to play the comparison game. What’s important then, is each of us finding our vision and walking toward that. Along your way, you’ll see others headed in their own direction. Some paths might be parallel to your own for a while, then veer off. Others might simply cross your path once, then keep on trucking to their own beat. But the beautiful thing is, we’re all going somewhere. Each of those paths are as valid and exciting and unique as the people walking them. None of them have to be the same.
So much in my life has happened differently than I expected. However, I’m slowly getting closer to my life vision that’s been forming: a household that’s warm and inviting. A career that’s interesting and creative. A kitchen filled with comfort and nourishment. A life full of fulfilling relationships and service to others. More and more, food has become the way to make that warm, inviting, nourishing, creative, beautiful vision a reality. There are certainly bumps in the road every which way, from a years-long quest to find our family and figuring out how to feed ourselves. But every day, we’re getting one step closer.
With the days turning shorter and the crisp, cool mornings, we’re starting to crave cozy bakes. This rice casserole we created using organic red rice from Lundberg Family Farms to honor Whole Grains Month (September). Incorporating lots of whole grains in our kitchen has been important to us from the beginning. Quinoa, rice, millet, farro; you name it, we’ve investigated and found delicious ways to eat it! Red rice is a new-to-us whole grain, so we were eager to test it out, especially since this red rice has been grown sustainably and organically. Rice and whole grains are full of vitamins and minerals including B-vitamins, iron and zinc. They’re also a great source of complex carbohydrates, which are slow-digesting and provide fuel for an active lifestyle. And since red rice has the germ of the rice left intact, it has a bit more nutrients versus white rice.
To use the red rice, we created this rice casserole. It combines the gooey, comforting essence of spinach artichoke dip with the nourishing, whole grains of red rice. Though you could certainly substitute other types of rice in this rice casserole, we love the contrast of the bright red rice against the green spinach. It also has a unique, nutty flavor. Serve it along with a salad as a main dish, or even dip into it with pita crisps. It’s cozy plus nourishing, baked whole grains style. (Hygge, we’d say.)
Featured partner: Lundberg Family Farms
Lundberg Family Farms is a family owned and operated business that started in Nebraska in the 1930s. After seeing the Dustbowl that resulted from poor soil management, Albert Lundberg inspired his sons to care for the soil. Since then, Lundberg has been growing organic rice for 80 years. They’re committed to sustainable farming practices that protect the soil for future generations, and their whole grain products are made with the cleanest ingredients. They’ve have grown grains sustainably long before anyone knew the word. Lundberg grows more than 18 types of rice and grains, including Red, Black Pearl, Brown, Wild, Basmati, Sushi, two varieties of American-grown Quinoa, and many more. Look for Lundberg brands in your local grocery store.
Did you make this recipe?
If you make this spinach artichoke red rice casserole, we’d love to hear how it turned out. Leave a comment below or share a picture on Instagram and mention @acouplecooks and @lundbergfarms.
This recipe is…
Vegetarian and gluten-free.
- 2 cups dry Lundberg organic red rice
- 8 ounces baby spinach leaves (8 cups)
- 1¾ teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- 14-ounce can artichoke hearts
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 cup milk
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 8 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese (about 2 cups)
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Fresh ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Cook the rice according to the package instructions.
- In a large skillet, heat the spinach leaves and 1 tablespoon water over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the leaves are completely reduced and wilted, about 4 to 5 minutes. (You may need to add a second batch of leaves depending on the size of your skillet.) Drain off any water, place the spinach in a bowl, and mix it with ¼ teaspoon kosher salt.
- Roughly chop the artichoke hearts.
- Meanwhile, mince the garlic. In a large skillet, heat the butter over medium low heat. Add the garlic and saute for about 1 minute. Add the milk, red pepper flakes, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and bring to a simmer. Stir until the cheese melts and the sauce thickens slightly (turn up the heat slightly if the cheese doesn’t melt at first, but be careful not to overheat it).
- When the rice and sauce are finished, pour the rice into a large casserole dish and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon kosher salt. Add spinach and artichoke, pour in the sauce, and stir thoroughly to combine all rice with sauce and cheese (make sure to get the edges). Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over the top.
- Bake at 400°F for 15 minutes until warm. Allow to cool a few minutes before serving.