I have made both chicken and rice bakes and chicken tortilla casseroles. They are both very good. While I was thumbing through a list of recipes for chicken and rice, I saw a recipe from Half-Baked Harvest that combined the two. This recipe for Skillet Salsa Verde Tortilla Rice Bake uses salsa verde, the green salsa I prefer to use. I think this would work well with a tomato-bases salsa, but if you haven’t figured out already we don’t do those in our house. What I like about both Tex-Mex and Mexican cooking is that you have a lot of variety on what you can cook with. I believe this bake is worth doing the Your Level Best treatment. The recipe states that for a healthier version, substitute quinoa for the rice. I think we can go further than that, but I don’t believe we need to swap out the rice at all. I just use brown rice instead of white. Keep in mind, brown rice takes longer to cook than white. Here are the original stats:
- 395 Calories
- 17g Fat
- 77mg Cholesterol
- 851mg Sodium
- 312mg Potassium
- 36g Carbohydrate
- 27g Protein
- 18% Vitamin A
- 87% Vitamin C
- 37% Calcium
- 10% Iron
Not too bad. Sodium is a little high and so are the calories. I think a couple of tweaks can help. Here’s what I changed:
- I swapped out the white rice for brown rice.
- I deleted the added salt.
- I raised the servings to 10 in order to reduce the calories.
- I added lentils to bulk out the protein.
- I added two chopped red bell pepper for vitamin C.
- I added three chopped carrots for vitamin A.
The thing I didn’t touch was the cheese in the recipe. I think this recipe needs the cheese. I kept both kinds in and the sodium is still within a healthy range.
Here are the final stats:
- 292 Calories
- 10g Fat
- 43mg Cholesterol
- 217mg Sodium
- 305mg Potassium
- 38g Carbohydrate
- 20g Protein
- 97% Vitamin A
- 107% Vitamin C
- 20% Calcium
- 14% Iron
Here is the final recipe:
Skillet Salsa Verde Tortilla Rice Bake
- 2 cups water
- 1 yellow onion peeled +quartered
- 6 cloves of garlic skin on
- 6 small tomatillos peeled
- 3 poblano peppers
- 1 jalapeño
- 4 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 3/4 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts cut in half
- 3/4 cup brown rice
- 1 cup dry brown lentils
- 6 taco size soft or corn tortillas, torn into 4 pieces
- 1 cup fresh or frozen yellow corn
- 2 red bell peppers, chopped
- 3 large carrots, chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro chopped
- 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 1/2 cups shredded Monterrey jack cheese
- Heat a large dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the onion, garlic and tomatillos and cook, turning often until charred on all sides, about 5 minutes. You may need to remove the garlic cloves before the onion and tomatillos. Once cooked, turn off the heat and remove everything from the dutch oven. When cool, remove the skins from the garlic. Return the dutch oven to medium high heat and add the poblano peppers and jalapeño. Cook, turning often until charred all over, about 5 minutes. Remove the peppers and jalapeño from the heat and place in a bowl, cover with a plate and allow the peppers to steam for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, peel or scrape off the charred skins and remove seeds. Add the peppers to a blender, along with the onion, garlic and tomatillos, puree until smooth. Set aside this salsa verde.
- Add the chopped red bell peppers and carrots. Saute until soft. Remove the vegetables from the dutch oven and set aside.
Return the dutch oven to high heat and add the chicken broth. Bring to a boil and then add the chicken and rice cover and reduce the heat too low. Simmer for 25 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken and add the lentils. Cover and cook another 20-25 minutes. Shred the chicken.
While the rice and lentils cook, pre heat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Once the rice is cooked, remove the dutch oven from the heat. Stir in the pureed salsa verde, 4 of the torn tortillas, corn, bell peppers, carrots and cilantro. Top with the remaining 2 tortillas and then cover with cheese.
Transfer to the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the cheese has melted and is bubbly.