Spinach and Vanilla Rice Casserole

We have been having Wedding Planning Nights at our home in preparation for Ian & Malia’s marriage in September. We are so very excited about having the celebration on our farm and helping out where we can. Jim & I have been planning their honeymoon, but it is a surprise, so I can’t tell you yet!

I always try to make something special for them when they come over, and Ian has a few favorites that I like to make for him. This is a simple, easy dish that can be made ahead for a crowd, a brunch, dinner, frozen for later meals–just a great casserole dish with a few embellishments that everyone in my family enjoys. The vanilla rice (by itself) can be enjoyed as an accompaniment to any grilled meat or fish, with eggs in the morning, or just by the spoonful. Vanilla adds just the perfect note of delicateness to the rice, softening and pulling the flavors into perfect harmony. Ahhhh…sounds like the perfect recipe for marriage!

Rice is a staple here in Hawaii. It is served with every meal. This is how we make rice in our home.


  • 4 Cups white rice
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 Teaspoons kosher salt
  • vanilla seeds scraped from 1/2 of a bean


Measure out rice into a heavy bottomed pot that has a tight fitting lid. Add warm tap water to the rice and using your hands, sift through the rice to release the talc. Carefully dump that water out, using your hand to keep the rice greens from slipping through ( you can also use a fine-meshed sieve, and then place rinsed rice in your pot). Wash-rinse-repeat two more times. Pat rice down so that it is even in the pot. Using your pinky finger as a guide, place the tip of your finger on the top of the rice and add warm tap water until the water comes up to the first knuckle line on your pinky. Place the pot on the burner and bring to a boil. Add butter, salt and vanilla and give it a quick stir. Cover and lower heat to the absolute lowest setting and cook for 20 minutes, or until the rice is fully steamed, all of the water is absorbed and the grains are soft. You can check to see if it is done by using a wooden spoon or spatula to scoop to the bottom of the pot and see if all of the water is absorbed, or to pull a few grains out to taste. Cover again quickly because you don’t want to lose too much of the steam from the pot.

Spinach and Vanilla Rice Casserole

Serves 8


  • 1 Portuguese sausage, quartered and diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 8 Cups cooked Vanilla Rice
  • 4 pkg. boxed, frozen spinach, thaw and squeeze the water out
  • 8 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 1/2 Cups whole milk
  • 2 1/2 Cups shredded cheddar & jack cheese blend
  • 1 Teaspoon dried thyme
  • Corn flakes, crushed (optional)


**This can all be done in one pot–so use a large one to accommodate all of the ingredients.

Fry the sausage in a large pot. When nicely browned, drain on paper towels and wipe out the pot to remove most of the grease.

Then add onion and sauté until translucent and softened.

Add the rest of the ingredients and stir until well combined.

Pour into a well buttered (or vegetable sprayed) 9×13 baking dish ( I know the picture shows an 8×8, but I made extra for the photo shoot!). Top with crushed corn flakes and gently press into the rice mixture.

Bake at 375 F or until the top is nicely browned and all moisture is absorbed, about 30 minutes.

**We serve ours with a hot sauce like Frank’s or Tabasco. 


xovox, (vanilla hugs & kisses) Tracy Reddekopp


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