Saturday, December 08, 2012

Recipe for Easy Brown Rice Casserole with Turkey Italian Sausage and Green Bell Pepper

Brown Rice Casserole with Turkey Italian Sausage and Green Bell Pepper
This casserole with brown rice, turkey Italian sausage, and green bell pepper was one of the Ziplist Best of 2012 Recipes!

(Updated December 2012) Today's my birthday, which makes it even more fun that Ziplist has named me Casserole Queen for this recipe, which received one of the Ziplist Best of 2012 Recipe Awards!  Everyone should be Queen for the Day on their birthday, don't you agree?  I hope everyone will enjoy seeing this recipe from the past while I spend some birthday-celebrating time with family and friends.  And if you're not already one of the many people using Ziplist, I recommend you check out the Ziplist Recipe Box, Shopping List, and Grocery Deals features, which you can use on thousands of blogs and other food sites.  (On Kalyn's Kitchen those Ziplist links are located at the top of the left sidebar where it says Save Your Recipes.)  I'll be back tomorrow with another new recipe.

Sometimes I just pull leftovers out of the fridge and come up with something that turns out so well I decide to make the recipe again to take photos for the blog.  That's exactly what happened with this Easy Brown Rice Casserole with Turkey Italian Sausage and Green Pepper.  I had leftover brown rice in the fridge, and some turkey Italian sausage that I'd thawed out and never used.  In the vegetable crisper I had those 2/$1.00 green bell peppers that are so good this time of year.  I cooked those things together into a tasty casserole topped with some low-fat cheese and decided it was a keeper, so a few days later I made it again and took these photos.  As long as you have leftover brown rice to start out with, this is an easy recipe idea that can be adapted in infinite ways.  If you'd like to add other ingredients like sauteed mushrooms, red bell peppers, sauteed zucchini, sauteed sweet potatoe cubes, or even Parmesan cheese mixed into the rice, please have fun with it.

Finely chop a large onion and a green bell pepper.

Saute the onion and bell pepper in some olive oil.  When they're almost done, mix in 1 tsp. Italian seasoning mix and cook for a minute or two.  You can also add a little ground fennel if you like fennel like I do.  (Forgot to take a photo of that step.)

Remove the sauteed onions and green peppers, squeeze turkey Italian sausage out of the casing, and saute until it's nicely browned.  (I wouldn't make this with pork Italian sausage because it has so much more fat I think the casserole would be too greasy.)

Mix the sauteed vegetables and cooked brown rice in with the sausage and warm it for a few minutes.

Put the mixture into a casserole dish that you've sprayed with olive oil or non-stick spray.

Top with about 3/4 cup of low-fat cheese.  I used a four-cheese blend that had 6 grams of fat in 1/4 cup.

Bake about 25 minutes, or just until the cheese is melted and nicely browned and the whole mixture is piping hot.

Easy Brown Rice Casserole with Turkey Italian Sausage and Green Bell Pepper
(Makes about 4 servings; recipe created by Kalyn as a way to use leftover brown rice she had in the fridge.)

1 large onion, finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, stem and seeds removed and finely chopped
2 tsp. + 2 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. Italian seasoning (a blend of dried oregano, marjoram, thyme, and rosemary)
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. ground fennel (optional)
4 or 5 links turkey Italian sausage (1 - 1 1/4 lb.)
1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
3/4 cup low-fat cheese (I used a four cheese blend)

Preheat oven to 375F/190C.  Heat 2 tsp. olive oil in a large heavy frying pan.  Add the chopped onion and green bell pepper and saute until the vegetables are cooked through, about 3-4 minutes.  Add the Italian seasoning (and ground fennel if using) and saute 1-2 minutes more.  Remove the cooked vegetables to a bowl.

Add 2 tsp. more oil to the frying pan (or less if you're using a non-stick pan.)  Squeeze the turkey Italian sausage out of the casing and saute until it's fully cooked and nicely browned, breaking apart with a turner as it cooks.  This will take about 5-6 minutes, but don't rush the browning.

When sausage is done put the cooked vegetables and brown rice into the pan and mix with the sausage.  Cook this mixture a few minutes, until the rice is warmed through.  Put the mixture into a casserole dish that you've sprayed with olive oil or non-stick spray.  (I used a dish that was 7" x 9" but a slightly larger size will work.)  Sprinkle the cheese over the top.

Put the casserole into the oven and bake until the cheese is melted and lightly browned and the whole thing is piping hot, about 20-25 minutes.  Serve hot.

This kept well in the fridge and reheated well in the microwave, although the green pepper flavor was stronger after it was reheated.

South Beach Suggestions:
With brown rice, low-fat turkey Italian sausage, and low-fat cheese, this would be a great main dish for phase two or three of the South Beach Diet.  Serve with something like Not-so-Dumb Salad with Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Onions, Avocado, and Balsamic Vinegar, Cucumbers Caesar, or Red Rock Brewery Style No-Mayo Vinegar Coleslaw with Oregano.

Nutritional Information?
I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight partly so I wouldn't have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you.

More Tasty Casseroles with Brown Rice: 
(Recipes from other blogs not always South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Greek-Inspired Leftover Brown Rice Casserole with Red Pepper, Onions, and Feta from Kalyn's Kitchen
Brown Rice Casserole with Leftover Turkey (or chicken), Mushrooms, Sour Cream, Cheese, and Thyme from Kalyn's Kitchen
Baked Chicken Chili Brown Rice Casserole from Gluten-Free Goddess
Chicken, Mushroom, and Brown Rice Bake with Leeks from Simply Sugar and Gluten Free
Parmesan Spinach Casserole with Garlic Brown Rice from The Cooking Photographer
(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)

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Posts may include links to my affiliate account at, and Kalyn's Kitchen earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend, so thanks for supporting my blog when you shop at Amazon!
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  1. This brings back all kinds of memories. My mother used to do the same thing trying to make ends meet and then raising my own boys, busy weeknights found us mixing what we had on hand just like you do. A delicious combo, Kalyn! I'm a big fan of rice dishes but need to try in more in casseroles like this.

  2. Thanks Kelly. The funny thing is that if my mom had put green pepper in a casserole like this, I would have turned up my nose at it, but now I would like it much better with the green pepper in it! I do love experimenting with different combinations like this!

  3. It's like a stuffed pepper in casserole form. Love it!

  4. Daniella, that's true! Hope you enjoy it.

  5. I always feel so frugal when I turn leftovers into something else, and I feel especially clever when that something else turns out to be delicious. Most often I use leftovers in soup, but I love the idea of this casserole.

  6. Thanks Lydia. It really did turn out well.

  7. I hate throwing food out, so I love it when I can use up as much as possible in one dish - lots of times it ends up in fried rice, but I like the casserole idea.

  8. Jeanette, I've been known to turn leftover rice and veggies into fried rice too, so we're on the same wavelength!

  9. I can't wait to try this. My wife and I have been trying to have healthier diets, but she is very resistant to both turkey sausage and brown rice. It's not that she finds either one bad; it's that whenever we have tried to use them, it's in substitution, and her palate is set for the ingredient being replaced. I think this will be a good way to try and get her to see them on their own terms.

  10. Sausage and peppers is one of life's more perfect combinations and I think we can all agree that most things taste better in casserole form! Total comfort food! i love that it's just a mash-up of leftovers!

  11. Kalyn,

    You just made my husband's day! He loves brown rice casseroles. This is going on my Dinner Menu for next week.

    If someone doesn't have brown rice left over, they can bake it in the oven. It comes out perfect. I do it all of the time because I can't seem to keep it from boiling over on my stove top.

    It's simple - 1 1/2 cups brown rice to 2 1/3 cups liquid (I use some type of stock) - bake covered for 45 - 55 minutes at 375F until all liquid is absorbed. Uncover, fluff with a fork and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.


  12. Thanks Amy. I confess I cheat and use the rice cooker, but that will help people who don't have one. Hope you enjoy it.

  13. This sounds really good. My wife and I only eat brown rice these days. And of course onions and bell peppers makes everything better!

  14. Curt I am a huge fan of brown rice too. This is simple but tasty; hope you enjoy it.

  15. Hi Kalyn,
    We enjoyed your casserole. I ended up adding quite a bit more rice though. Actually, I prepared a full cup of uncooked brown rice and ended up using all of the cooked rice in it. If I make it again I will be sure to drain the fat off the turkey sausage before baking. The reheated leftovers were even better.
    - Michael

  16. Michael glad you liked it. Yes, you could definitely add more rice. The brand of turkey sausage I use doesn't have much fat at all; in fact I have to add olive oil to fry it!

  17. Hey Kalyn - We made this last week and it was *fantastic.* Thanks for sharing! I'm originally from SC and it kinda reminded me of the chicken bog we used to eat growing up.

    I'm wondering how this would be with cauliflower "rice" instead of the brown rice. Ever tried it? I've put it on the menu for Wed or Thur this week and may give it a go with the cauliflower.

  18. Scott, so glad you liked it. Not sure how it would be with the cauliflower, but if you try it I'd love to hear what you think.

  19. Tried it with the cauliflower last night - my wife and I both liked it very much. Brown rice is better as it seems to give a better body to the dish, but still very good with the cauliflower.

  20. Scott, thanks for that update. Good to know it could be made with cauliflower if someone wanted this for phase one.

  21. I loved it. My kids don't like brown rice plain, esp served with beans. I love the nutty texture of brown rice. I cooked a rice cooker full and already had some ground chicken with red pepper and onions sauteed a few days prior. Throwing this together was so easy! Hubby ate 2 servings. The cheese on top under the broiler was nice and crunchy!!! I will try it with quinoa next time!

  22. just curious to what the caloric breakdown is.... Couldn't find it anywhere on the site

  23. Seasonsmom, glad you enjoyed it.

    One reason I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight was because I didn't want to have to count the calories, carbs, or points for everything I ate. Since I already spend 4-5 hours on every recipe and I'm not calculating that information for my own use, I'm not able to include it for recipes on the blog. If you want to figure out the nutritional information yourself, a site that's very easy to use is Calorie Count. Just copy the recipe and enter the number of servings and it will calculate everything for you. (You may have to edit to remove some extra descriptive words in the recipe or change things like 2 tsp. + 1 tsp. to say 3 tsp., but it's really very easy to use.)

  24. we tried this tonight for dinner but I only had black rice which is even better for you than brown so it worked out great. It was delicious and my husband LOVED it!!

  25. So glad you liked it! I just bought black rice for the first time and can't wait to experiment with it!

  26. Made this for dinner yesterday and it was great, and the left overs were even better. I think next time I'll add more peppers and mix the cheese in. But another winner -- thanks!

  27. I love this. I added some black beans as well, and the tiniest touch of BBQ sauce when serving. Yum, and great to take to work.

    Happy Birthday week:-)

  28. Happy Birthday to you!!

    I came across your site recently and you have an amazing site. Did try Onion gratin, stuffed green pepper and stuffed mushrooms already. Turned out amazing while helping me stick to a healthy diet.. Thank You!!

  29. Congrats love! ANd happy belated birthday!

  30. This looks like healthy comfort food, Kalyn. Might have to try it with ground venison soon. Shared on FB. :-)

    Happy Sunday!

  31. Thanks for the birthday wishes everyone. I did have a wonderful birthday!

    Shirley, would love to hear how thsi works with ground venison. Would fennel complement that? That would kind of simulate the flavor of the spices? Thanks for sharing!

  32. Kalyn, fennel is great with ground venison. I usually add it when making venison sausage. :-)

    My pleasure to share, as always.

  33. I almost never make casserole but they are such comforting dishes easy to reheat. I should now as they are absolutely perfect for this wintery weather, though been warm here in the DC area.

  34. Shulie, I think one reason I love casseroles so much is the leftovers! But you're right, they're perfect for cold weather too.

  35. Oh My Gosh. TWO of my favorite women/mentors/heros have the same birthday! You and my mom have the same birthday. They are smart to name you the queen.

  36. Donna, how fun! I love that I am sharing your mom's birthday! xoxo

  37. Happy Birthday Kalyn and Best Wishes for much happiness and success in the year ahead, especially with your wonderful blog!

  38. Thank you for posting this recipe! My boyfriend and I definitely enjoyed it! It was so simple and tasted very good.



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