Creamy Asparagus and Rice Casserole

4.46 from 11 votes
1 hour 30 minutes
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Elegant Creamy Asparagus and Rice Casserole is a delicious, creamy make-ahead side dish that’s perfect with anything you’re serving! Add chicken or shrimp to transform it into a lovely entree or serve as a vegetarian main dish!

Photo of Creamy Asparagus and Rice Casserole with gray napkin.

Why This Recipe is a Keeper!

Here’s a side dish you’re going to want to put on repeat! Whether it’s for your own elegant occasion or for something impressive to take to another get-together, Creamy Asparagus and Rice Casserole is perfect every time!

Creamy Asparagus and Rice Casserole is:

  • Perfect for a spring special occasion like Easter.
  • Make-ahead.
  • Versatile! Add chicken or shrimp for a lovely, elegant main dish or serve as a vegetarian main dish.
  • Creamy and delicious without processed CANNED SOUP!
Photo of Creamy Asparagus and Rice Casserole with serving spoon and asparagus tied with twine.

How to Make Creamy Asparagus and Rice Casserole:

Recipe Ingredients:

Here’s everything you’ll need to make this recipe along with how to prep. See the casserole recipe card below for the exact quantities.

Photo of ingredients for Creamy Asparagus and Rice Casserole in glass bowls on marble background.

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions:

  • Converted Rice: Also known as parboiled rice, converted rice is white rice that’s boiled briefly and then immersed in cold water to stop the cooking process. The parboiled rice is then dried and milled which means the outer husk and bran layers are removed.  Converted rice is super easy to cook so it’s a great choice if you’re a novice.
  • Asparagus: Use medium to narrow-width fresh asparagus.
  • Shallots: Shallots look like a small red onion. They are a member of the onion family so they are also related to leeks and garlic but they are slightly sweeter.
  • Dry White Wine: You always want to cook with a wine that you would enjoy drinking. A bad wine or “cooking wine” can ruin your entire dish. Alcohol Substitute: Add additional broth with a tablespoon of white wine vinegar. Wine vinegar (red or white) generally only has a trace amount of alcohol. You can also use lemon juice.
  • Heavy Cream: Can also use half-and-half or whole milk.
  • Panko: Also known as Japanese bread crumbs, panko has a great coarse texture that works well for crispy toppings.

Step-By-Step Instructions:

  • Gather and prep all the ingredients.
  • Cook the rice according to package directions or use 2 1/2 cups plainly cooked leftover rice.
  • Cut the asparagus into 1 to 2-inch lengths, reserving some full stalks for garnish.
  • Prepare an ice bath. Blanch the asparagus in boiling, salted water for 30 seconds or so–just until it turns bright green. Immediately remove it from the boiling water then drop it into an ice bath to cool. Drain and pat dry.
Photo of blanched asparagus in glass bowl.
  • Make the creamy sauce.
  • Heat butter and oil and cook the shallot until soft.
  • Add the garlic and flour and cook for 1-2 minutes.
  • Add the wine and cook briefly.
  • Add the chicken broth and cream.
  • Bring that to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until it thickens.
  • Take it off the heat and whisk in the cream cheese and half the Parmesan cheese. (NOTE: The sauce won’t be all that thick which is how you want it. The rice will soak up some of the sauce which helps to bind it. If the sauce is too thick, the casserole will be dry.)
  • Season to taste with salt and white pepper.
Photo of cream sauce in stainless steel saucepan.
  • Combine the cooked rice, asparagus and cream sauce.
Photo of cream sauce, rice and blanched asparagus in glass bowl.
  • Transfer to a prepared baking dish and mix up the Parmesan, panko and parsley topping.
Photo of asparagus casserole as breadcrumb topping is being applied.
  • Top with the whole stalks and sprinkle more topping over them.
  • MAKE AHEAD: The casserole can be covered and refrigerated at this point and baked one to two days later.
Photo of asparagus casserole after breadcrumb topping applied.
  • Bake!
  • Enjoy! Creamy Asparagus and Rice Casserole for a lovely spring side dish or vegetarian main dish you’ll be proud to serve!
Photo of Creamy Asparagus and Rice Casserole.
Photo of Creamy Asparagus and Rice Casserole with serving spoon.

Chef Tips and Tricks:

  • To determine where to trim asparagus, bend one of the stalks in the lower 1/3 until it breaks. Where it breaks is where you should cut the remainder of the bunch as they’re all typically the same size in the bunch because they were probably growing next to each other.
  • When blanching any vegetable, be sure the water is very generously salted. A personal chef mentor said it should taste like seawater. Have an ice bath ready. Drop the vegetable into the salted, boiling water and if it’s a green vegetable such as asparagus, remove it as soon as it turns bright green (which only takes seconds) then drop it into the ice bath. This process “shocks” the vegetable so the green color is set.
Photo of Creamy Asparagus and Rice Casserole in white baking dish with serving spoon and bunch of asparagus.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Should you rinse rice before cooking it?

It’s always a good idea to rinse rice and other grains before cooking it to remove any dust. Rinsing also removes excess surface starch which can cause the rice to be sticky.

Why do you mix butter and oil together?

By combining the two, you end up with a combination that has the flavor of butter but allows you to cook at a higher temperature than you can with just butter.

Can Creamy Asparagus and Rice Casserole be made ahead?

Yes, sure can! Combine everything in the baking dish one day ahead of time up to the point of topping with the breadcrumbs. Cool and refrigerate. When ready to bake, let sit out at room temperature for 30 minutes then add the breadcrumb topping. Cover loosely with aluminum foil and bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking for another 30-35 minutes or until bubbling and heated through.

Photo of Creamy Asparagus and Rice Casserole with spoon serving some of the casserole.

Serve with:

More lovely asparagus dishes!

Be sure to check out all my side dish recipes here! Side Dish Recipes – From A Chef’s Kitchen

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Photo of Creamy Asparagus and Rice Casserole with serving spoon.

Creamy Asparagus and Rice Casserole

4.46 from 11 votes

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By: Carol | From A Chef’s Kitchen
Elegant Creamy Asparagus and Rice Casserole is a delicious, creamy make-ahead side dish that's perfect with anything you're serving! Add chicken or shrimp to transform it into a lovely entree!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Course Side Dishes – Vegetables
Cuisine American
Servings 6
Calories 381 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • Cooking spray - for baking dish
  • 1 cup converted white rice - or 2 1/2 cups plain leftover cooked white rice
  • Salt
  • 2 pounds thin to medium-width asparagus - (not pencil-thin) tough ends trimmed (approximately 2 bunches)
  • 3 tablespoons butter - divided
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 large shallot - finely chopped (approximately 1/2 cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic - minced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour plus 1 teaspoon
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream - or half-and-half
  • 4 ounces cream cheese - (1/2 package) room temperature
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese - divided
  • White pepper - to taste
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray an 11 x 7-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.
  • Cook the rice according to the package directions being careful to not overcook. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and set aside.
  • Cut all but 7 stalks of asparagus into 1 to 2-inch lengths. (The whole stalks will be used as a garnish.)
  • Prepare an ice bath. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil and add a generous amount of salt (approximately 1 tablespoon).
  • Drop the asparagus into the boiling water by the handful. Cook 10-15 seconds or until it turns bright green. Scoop out with a sieve or large slotted spoon and drop into the ice bath. Repeat with remaining asparagus. Drain the asparagus and blot dry with paper towels or a clean kitchen towel.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons butter and the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.
  • Add the shallot, reduce heat to low and cook approximately 3-4 minutes or until softened, being careful to not let the shallot brown or burn.
  • Add the garlic and cook briefly, approximately 10-15 seconds or until fragrant.
  • Add the flour and cook, whisking constantly for approximately 1-2 minutes.
  • Add the wine and cook, whisking constantly for approximately 1 minute.
  • Slowly pour in the chicken broth and the heavy cream (or half-and-half). Bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking until the mixture thickens (approximately 5 minutes). Remove from the heat.
  • Tear the cream cheese into small pieces and whisk into the sauce until blended and smooth.
  • Add 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese and whisk until blended. Season to taste with salt and white pepper.
  • Combine the rice, cheese sauce and asparagus pieces in a large bowl and transfer to the prepared baking dish. Smooth the top and arrange the 7 reserved asparagus stalks over the top as desired.
  • Combine the remaining Parmesan cheese, panko, parsley and remaining 1 tablespoon of butter in a small bowl until the cheese and breadcrumbs are coated with the butter.
  • Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture over the casserole.
  • Cover loosely with aluminum foil. Bake for 20-22 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking another 20-25 minutes or until topping is browned and casserole is bubbling and thoroughly heated through.

Notes

MAKE AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead of time up to the point of topping with the breadcrumbs. Cool and refrigerate. Let sit out at room temperature for 30 minutes then add the breadcrumb topping. Cover loosely with aluminum foil. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking another 30-35 minutes until bubbling and heated through.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 | Calories: 381kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 50mg | Sodium: 540mg | Potassium: 461mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 1880IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 202mg | Iron: 4mg

These are estimated values generated from a nutritional database using unbranded products. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

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Recipe Rating




6 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Such a great recipe for asparagus season. Bravo! It’s delicious and perfectly flavored! We’ll be making this casserole on the regular 👌🏼

  2. 5 stars
    Wow! I didn’t find this bland AT ALL! Made it and loved it! The cream cheese, parmesan and wine added lovely flavor that didn’t overwhelm the asparagus. Maybe that commenter forgot to add salt? Will definitely make again!!

    1. Thanks for your feedback. Would like to know what was so bland about it and would appreciate more constructive feedback so I can improve the recipe.