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Summer Garden Veggie Casserole

2 1/2 pounds zucchini, coarsely grated
2 1/2 tsps kosher salt
3/4 cup plain, uncooked white rice
1 medium onion, minced (about 1 cup)
1 tbsp OLEA's Baklouti Olive Oil
5 tbsps OLEA's Black Garlic & Ginger Olive Oil, divided
1 large Anaheim or Fresno chili, finely chopped
2 tbsps all-purpose flour or rice flour
1 cup vegetable stock, chicken stock, or milk, divided
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 large ripe heirloom tomatoes thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese, divided
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a 2-quart baking dish with Baklouti Olive Oil.

Prepare remaining ingredients: Toss the grated zucchini with flour & set aside. In a large frying pan, cook the onions and chili pepper slowly in 3 tablespoons of Black Garlic & Ginger Olive Oil for 8 to 10 minutes until tender and translucent. Raise heat slightly and stir several minutes until very lightly browned. Add uncooked rice and sauté for another two minutes. To the still hot pan, add the stock (or liquid of choice) and cream cheese. Stir until the cream cheese is melted and the stock and rice are fully combined. Season generously with salt and pepper.

Assemble casserole: Transfer the contents of the frying pan to bowl with zucchini and stir together with remaining 1/2 cup liquid of your choice and all but 1/2 cup of cheese. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Transfer to prepared baking dish. Layer the thinly sliced tomatoes over the top of the casserole.

Bake casserole: Cover tightly with foil and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until rice within is cooked but not mush. Increase oven temperature to 450 degrees. Remove foil, drizzle top with remaining olive oil, sprinkle remaining cheese over tomatoes and bake uncovered until browned and crisp on top, about another 10 to 15 minutes. For extra color, you can run it under the broiler for a minute or so.

Serves 4-6

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