Dualing casseroles

Our experimentation with our new All American Sun Oven continues with two new shoot-from-the-hip concoctions… Number one is a creamy mushroom pasta bake, and the next is a spicy Southwestern rice dish. Both were put together with leftover produce and standard pantry fare in accordance with our approach to defining offgrid gourmet (sans refrigerator).

For the pasta bake, I was trying to create a sort of meatless stroganoff with a creamy and savory mushroom base to coat tender pasta. I first shredded the last two carrots from the Cuba Farmers Market and diced some white onion to add to a handful of sliced stuffed manzanilla olives. Then, I mixed everything with a can of condensed cream of mushroom soup, a packet of mushroom gravy mix, and about a can and a half of water. (The Sun Oven doesn’t require as much liquid as conventional recipes because of the tightly-sealed cooking environment.) Finally, I added 6 servings of uncooked bow tie pasta and seasoned with black pepper, garlic powder, and dried thyme. (In addition, I tried to off-set the unbelievably high salt content of the soup and gravy mix by adding several shakes of vinegar and a healthy pinch of natural sugar.) Altogether, the blend baked at 300-350 degrees in partial sun for a couple of hours (amid the haze of nearby controlled burns), and the results were less-than-stellar. The noodles were gloppy and mushy, but the flavor was okay. Definitely this should be eaten with some green veggies to contrast the salty starch, but we’ll continue to play around more with cooking times/temps, liquids, and quality of ingredients to make it just right in the future.

For the spicy Southwestern rice dish, the attitude was about the same- Super simple!! Adding to 6 servings of uncooked regular white rice (1.5 cups), I used a mostly-full jar of our favorite salsa, a can of cheddar cheese soup, a can of whole black beans (drained), diced onion and jalapeño, seasoned with hot red chile powder, garlic powder, and dried cilantro. (Again, I refrained from adding additional salt since we had plenty in the soup.) This dish was stacked in the oven with the pasta around 1pm and cooked until late afternoon. The rice still had not softened by that time (perhaps affected by the smoky skies), so we kept it in to cook the next day. By late afternoon on day two, the rice had cooked up great and the flavors came out just right, albeit a bit on the dry side. Tasty and satisfying, we thought this zippy rice mix would work well as burrito filling with guacamole and fresh veggies, or perhaps mixed up to your liking with some cubed grilled chicken or meatless chick patties.

These two dishes were SO easy to put together and cook in our Sun Oven for offgrid enjoyment, but they would be something belly-filling to make during [daytime] power outages following hurricanes or other severe weather, or if you are just in between grocery runs. I particularly like the slow-cooker method because I have way too much to do around here, and it cost ZERO in the way of electricity or other fuel. If you are interested in these recipes or other things to make in the All American Sun Oven, just add a comment below and we’ll do our best to help.

PS- If you missed us on Instagram, here’s another sweet little recipe adapted from NYTimes.com that came out perfecto!!


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