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SOUTHERN RECIPES
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Spring Casserole of Roasted Asparagus and Artichokes 

  • Oil for roasting pan

  • 1 to 1 pounds asparagus (16 to 24 medium spears), bottoms trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces

  • 12 canned or frozen and defrosted artichoke hearts, quartered

  • 1 medium red bell pepper, julienned

  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled, minced

  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon rind

  • Juice of 1 lemon

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

  • 1 cups basmati rice

  • 2 cups water

  • 2 cups halved cherry tomatoes

  • 8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled, divided use

  • cup pitted brine-cured black olives, such as kalamata

  • cup chopped parsley leaves 

Heat oven to 425 degrees.

Lightly oil in large shallow roasting pan or half-sheet pan.

In a large bowl, combine the asparagus, artichokes and red pepper. Add the garlic grated lemon rind, lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Arrange the mixture in a single layer in the roasting pan. Do not wash the bowl.

Roast the asparagus mixtures 20 to 25 minutes or until the vegetables are lightly browned and tender, stirring once or twice for even cooking. Remove them from the oven and reduce the temperature to 350 degrees.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine the rice and water. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat and simmer for 12 minutes or until the water is absorbed and the rice is tender.

In the large bowl, combine the cooked rice, roasted vegetables, tomatoes, half the cheese, the olives and parsley. Mix well. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Transfer to a 2 -quart casserole dish or 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. (The casserole can be made ahead and kept in the refrigerator up to 4 hours; increase the baking time if the casserole goes into the oven cold.) Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the casserole is heated through.

Remove from the oven and serve.

Yield: 6 servings

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