Casseroles and I have had a long relationship with a lot of ups and downs. I grew up loving them, and they were a part of every family gathering I ever attended. I’m guessing anyone that grew up in the deep south would say the same. Squash was always eaten with cheese and crushed Ritz crackers. Hash browns? Those had cheese, too. Basically, if it was a casserole, it involved some type of vegetable smothered in something creamy and/or cheesy. You know, anything to negate the vegetable-ness of it.
As I got older, casseroles started to kind of gross me out. Too many similar textures and not enough flavor. I didn’t eat them for a long time, but then I got turned on to them again, thanks to some awesome recipes that showed me it’s possible to have casseroles with loads of flavor and texture.
This casserole takes advantage of the abundance of produce available during summer – some of my favorites like corn, zucchini and tomatoes. The vegetables are roasted to bring out all their flavor, then they’re mixed with rice and chicken before being baked. This recipe calls for cottage cheese to make the sauce that holds the casserole together, but don’t worry if you’re not a fan of cottage cheese. I certainly am not, but it works well in this recipe. If you want to make this vegetarian, simply leave out the chicken. It works great as a vegetarian main dish or even as a side to something else.