From the AICR Test Kitchen
Week of June 30, 2014
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Contact: Alice Bender, (202) 328-7744

Summer Vegetable Casserole

from the
American Institute for Cancer Research

There is no reason a baked casserole can’t be comfort food and healthy at the same time. This week’s recipe does just that by working cottage cheese into your diet, which is a good source of protein and calcium, and featuring summer vegetables.

Drained, but not pressed, cottage cheese is a cheese curd that is not aged or colored. The high-protein milk curd is usually washed to remove acidity, which results in a slightly sweet, mild flavor. There are lots of varieties of cottage cheese and though our recipe calls for reduced-fat cottage cheese for those watching total calories, any preferred variety will do.

Cottage cheese is believed to date back to the mid-1800s. This cheese was popular with rural folks living in country cottages and was made from milk leftover after making butter. Indeed, many food historians believe the old nursery rhyme, “Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet eating her curds and whey,” was referring to cottage cheese.

Speaking of cheese, while Parmesan cheese is an aged, pressed cheese also high in calcium, it is just a little lower in fat compared to other aged or ripened cheeses. Its intense nutty, earthy flavor enriches the casserole’s comfort food essence along with the whole-wheat panko bread crumb topping.

This casserole allows you to sneak in not only bone-building calcium, but also summer’s bounty of squash, zucchini and corn. Brown rice provides satiating complex carbohydrates and fiber and the eggs bind all ingredients together while providing additional satiating, high quality protein.

This delicious single dish entrée is a timesaver during your busy summer schedule with less cooking and washing of pots and pans, leaving you more time to be active outside. Chop. Mix. Bake. Enjoy. Good-for-you comfort food.

Summer Casserole

Summer Vegetable Casserole

  • 1 tsp. canola oil or canola oil spray
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup reduced-fat cottage cheese
  • 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups cooked medium or long grain brown rice
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup diced yellow squash
  • 1 cup diced zucchini
  • 3/4 cup halved grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup corn (from cob or frozen)
  • 1/4 cup whole-grain panko bread crumbs, optional
  • 1/4 tsp. fresh thyme leaves


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat or spray large glass pie pan (you can also use a metal baking dish) with oil and set aside.

In large mixing bowl whisk together eggs, cottage cheese, half of Parmesan cheese, garlic and mustard, and season with salt and pepper. Stir in rice, onion, pepper, squash, zucchini, tomatoes and corn. Gently mix together.

Spoon mixture into pan. Sprinkle remaining Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs, if using. Cover and bake for 25 minutes. Uncover and cook for 35 minutes.

Let casserole rest for 5 minutes. Garnish with thyme and serve.

Makes 6 servings.

Per serving: 237 calories, 7 g total fat (3 g saturated fat), 28 g carbohydrate,
15 g protein, 3 g dietary fiber, 350 mg sodium.

Our Mission: The American Institute for Cancer Research champions the latest and most authoritative scientific research from around the world on cancer prevention and survival through diet, weight and physical activity, so that we can help people make informed lifestyle choices to reduce their cancer risk.

We have contributed over $105 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. Find evidence-based tools and information for lowering cancer risk, including AICR’s Recommendations for Cancer Prevention, at

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