Oven Baked Rice Casserole

4.67 from 6 votes

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This oven baked rice casserole is a modern take on a traditional Bulgarian dish called “Drob sarma”. Drob sarma is a main course popular in Bulgaria and other Eastern European countries made with chopped liver (and other organs) baked in the oven with rice, scallions. spinach, mint, and which gets baked, covered with a creamy mixture and baked again. Since a lot of people may find the traditional version off-putting we decided to bring you a oven baked rice casserole with veggies instead! The traditional version of this dish is typically enjoyed on Easter or St. George day which is May 6th. It symbolizes the end of winter, and beginning of new life.

Oven Baked Rice and Veggie Casserole

This recipe is a modern take on a traditional Bulgarian dish called "drob sarma". The veggies are all interchangeable and can be made according to preference. The topping can also be made with bechamel sauce or omitted completely. Feel free to make this recipe your own!
4.67 from 6 votes
Servings: 6 people
Author: The Modern Nonna
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients 

The Rice Filling:

  • ¼ cup avocado oil, (60 ml) or any oil
  • 3 washed and finely chopped leeks or yellow onion , (300 grams)
  • 2 peeled and grated carrots
  • 1 small container finely diced button mushrooms, (200 grams) optional
  • 1 small pack of frozen thawed spinach, (500 grams) or fresh
  • 1 cup of washed jasmine rice, (200 grams)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 5 finely diced green onions
  • 3 finely chopped garlic cloves
  • 2.5 cups unsalted vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon of finely chopped mint

The Topping:

  • 1.5 cups plain yogurt , (350 grams)
  • 3 medium eggs
  • salt to taste , heaping pinch
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Instructions 

The Rice Filling:

  • Preheat the oven to 400F (200C).
  • In a pan on the stove add the oil and heat it up. Add in the finely chopped leeks (or yellow onion) and grated carrots. Sauté for a few minutes until the leeks soften up. We like to sauté on medium heat.
  • Add in the mushrooms and stir. If you don't like mushrooms, skip this step.
  • Stir in the frozen or fresh spinach and sauté for another minute.
  • Stir in the rinsed rice and add the salt and pepper to taste. I added two generous pinches of salt.
  • Add the finely chopped scallions and garlic. Stir it in for another minute. I want you stirring in between each ingredient.
  • Pour in the unsalted vegetable broth and mint. Take it off the heat.
  • If your pan is OVEN safe you can pop it in the oven but if it's not, transfer the mixture into a baking dish and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the rice has cooked.
  • Take it out of the oven and enjoy as is OR proceed to the next step and make the delicious topping below.

The Topping:

  • When the rice is cooked, take a separate bowl, add the yogurt and whisk for a minute until silky smooth. Add the eggs and whisk again. Add a big pinch of salt and the flour and whisk again until there are no lumps.
  • Pour this yogurt mixture over the baked rice and distribute it evenly with the back of a spoon.
  • Pop it back into the oven for another 15 minutes or until golden. We like to put it on BROIL (top grill only) the last 1-2 minutes since our oven doesn't bake evenly on top.
  • Once baked and golden, take it out of the oven and let it SET for at least 30-40 minutes. As it sets it will be easier to take out into the perfect squares and not fall apart.
  • We cut it into squares, take out a piece and enjoy with a green salad or yogurt on the side! Enjoy.

Notes

Please practice “mise en place” which means you prep/chop all of your ingredients before you start. I want you to be ready so that you don’t scramble for ingredients or get flustered.
The vegetables are all interchangeable as this casserole can be made with anything you have on hand. If you don’t like mushrooms, leave them out. If you don’t have leeks, add two finely diced yellow onions instead! 
The yogurt is optional. This recipe can be made without it as well. We like to use Balkan Style yogurt but any will work as long as it’s plain. The topping can be made with Bechamel sauce as well. 
We used one pack of frozen spinach, thawed it and chopped it up into small pieces. My mom didn’t squeeze out any of the moisture but you can if you wish. You can also chop up fresh spinach as well. 
We like to leave the topping on broil for 1-2 minutes to get that golden color as our oven doesn’t cook evenly but you may not need to.
I used a cast iron enameled pan that is OVEN SAFE but any baking dish will work. You can simply sauté the ingredients for the filling in a pan and transfer it into any oven safe dish to bake. My dish was 12 inches round but a 9 by 13 will also work. 
My favourite organic broth is by Kettle and Fire. You can use my link and code for 20% off: https://kettleandfire.com/modernnonna code MODERNNONNA
If you are in Canada, Natura Market will carry Kettle and Fire so please check online.
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Hi! I'm Sneji. Nice to meet you!

I am more commonly known as “The Modern Nonna” on social media where I create easy home cooked meals with a modern twist. I was born and raised in Sofia, Bulgaria and learned how to cook at the best culinary school in the world – my grandma’s kitchen. I lived in Greece on the Island of Crete with my parents for a while and then moved to Toronto, Canada when I was in grade 5. I started to really cook and experiment with food 11 years ago when I was 21 years old. Everything I currently know is a reflection of some part of my life…

Keep up to date with me on social media! Follow @themodernnonna

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6 Comments

  1. Hi! I’d like to make this in advance…i.e. make and freeze. Is that okay? Any suggestion on warming I in oven from frozen? With the topping. Thanks!

    1. Hi Sam, to be quite honest I have not tried freezing this dish so it’s really hard for me to say

  2. This dish was amazing! I used brown jasmine rice so it was closer to 40 minutes for my rice to cook but it worked out beautifully and it was delicious!

  3. 5 stars
    This was one of the best dishes I have made in a long time. I didn’t change a thing, also took your advice on prepping everything ahead of time. This will be on repeat in my house☺️