This dish uses white rice and a good quantity of cheese, so it is pretty rich and calorific. But I use cashew cream instead of dairy cream, which contains healthy fats and other good nutrients. The cream has to be made beforehand, but don't worry, it's easy as pie! In its final form, the cream in the casserole is indistinguishable from dairy cream in both texture and taste.
This rich nut cream offers a mild, sweetish flavour.
2 cups boiling water
2 cups cashews
Soak the cashews in the boiling water for at least 1 hour. Scoop the cashews into a blender, leaving most of the liquid behind. Whir this in the blender until you have a smooth, white paste. Add more of the soaking liquid until you reach the consistency of thick cream.
This casserole brings me and R back to our short but wonderful time in Iceland, and even further back, to similar dishes we each ate as kids.
1/2 cup long-grained white rice
1 1/2 cup vegetable broth
1/2 tbsp butter
1/2 pound (8 oz) white mushrooms, sliced
1 shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 pound cod, halibut or any white-fleshed fish
1 cup cashew cream
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese
2 dashes smoked paprika
Salt n' peppa
Preheat the oven to 375F and grease a 7x11 glass baking dish.
In a small saucepan, bring the rice and the broth to a boil. Transfer to the baking dish, cover tightly with foil and bake for 10 minutes.
In a small bowl, combine the cashew cream with salt and pepper to taste along with the nutmeg. Set aside.
In a small cast-iron pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook until the liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms are soft. Add the shallot, garlic and half of the parsley and stir over the heat for 1 more minute. Set aside.
Chop the fish into bite-sized chunks. When the 10 minutes are up for the rice, take it out of the oven and remove the foil covering (the rice will not be fully cooked). Arrange the pieces of fish on top of the rice. Sprinkle with half of the cheese. Pour the mushroom mixture on top of this. Finally, top this all off with the cream mixture, spreading evenly.
Cover the dish again tightly with foil and bake for another 25 minutes.
Now, remove the dish from the oven once more and remove the foil. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the casserole, along with the remaining parsley. Add a couple dashes of paprika and return the dish to the oven. Bake for another 5-10 minutes, uncovered, until the cheese is fully melted and bubbly.