Mexican Inspired Casserole

Several years ago I was in a bit of a hurry to get dinner on the table. With quite a bit of leftover rice and not a clue what to do with it I had a quick rummage in the pantry and a family favorite was born.The sweetness of the corn, the acidity of the tomatoes and the earthy texture of the beans come together to make this simple dish something special. If you leave out the chicken, it makes a wonderful vegetarian meal or delicious side dish. Over the years it has changed a bit – I even took a version of it to a pitch-in once and had it complimented by a chef! (What an exciting surprise!) I have given this recipe out to countless friends and co-workers. I hope that you’ll enjoy it.

Ingredients:
2 large chicken breasts, cut into strips
EVOO
Sea salt, Freshly ground pepper, Sicilian or Tuscan seasoning
1 can diced tomatoes with jalapeños and their liquid
1 can black beans, drained
1 can (or 12 oz frozen) golden corn, drained
2 cups cooked rice, any type
Mexican Blend shredded cheese

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Toss the chicken with salt, pepper and seasoning, then add to the heated pan and cook until the chicken is lightly browned and is cooked most of the way through.

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Add the tomatoes, beans and corn to the skillet and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a simmer and simmer for 5-6 minutes to heat through.

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Put the rice in a large bowl and stir to break up any clumps. Add the contents of the skillet and mix thoroughly, then pour the mixture into a shallow casserole and sprinkle generously with the shredded cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees F for about 15 minutes, or until cheese has completely melted, then change the oven to low broil for another 6-8 minutes until the cheese is lightly browned. Serve with chips or bread.

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