In making this dish I learned something new. Namely, that long grain white rice I use contains no fiber. None. This was obvious when I stopped and thought about it -- with white rice the hull and bran has been removed -- but had never occurred to me before. Obviously, using brown rice instead of white would add fiber to this dish and make it moderately more healthful. Of course, I don't usually use brown rice (though I will be now) and am not sure if it would cook the same way in the casserole.
Because we liked this casserole, I had to go and try my own version of it this week. I used uncooked white rice mixed with condensed cream of asparagus soup, 1" pieces of uncooked leftover asparagus, milk, McCormick Salt Free Garlic & Herb Seasoning, and boneless skinless chicken breasts. It was ... okay. Not nearly as good as the original. I think I should have used leek soup mix instead of the salt free seasoning and cut the asparagus stems into half inch pieces. My version wasn't terrible, but we didn't eat the leftovers and that's always a sure sign of failure.
On a happier note, I also made up a creamy penne and vegetable casserole which came out well enough I will share the recipe with you:
Creamy Penne & Vegetable Casserole
8 oz dried penne
1 red bell pepper, diced small
2 celery stalks, diced small
½ onion, diced small
½ tsp dried thyme
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T butter
1 can condensed low fat/sodium cream of mushroom (tomato might work, too)
½ c fat free Greek yoghurt
½ c 1% milk
Cook penne as directed on package. Cook pepper, celery, onion, thyme, and garlic in butter over medium until tender. Remove from heat. Stir in soup, sour cream, and milk. Stir in cooked penne. Pour into a 1 ½ quart casserole and bake, covered, about 30 minutes.