Sitting down to a comforting meal, especially one made in the slow cooker, is the savior of busy weekends when you have lots of things to do around the house but not a lot of time for cooking. This Italian-inspired rice casserole has tender brown rice cooked with Parmesan, chicken broth, onions, and oregano, and it's layered with reliably juicy boneless chicken thighs, fresh broccoli florets, and a can of cannellini beans. Scoop into bowls and enjoy this all-in-one meal that has protein, veggies, and starch — perfect for pairing with a glass of crisp white wine.
Cook in Stages
This slow cooker recipe doesn't take all day to cook because the rice would turn mushy, but instead is done in two stages. Start with cooking the rice in an aromatic broth with Italian herbs and chunks of tender chicken, then stir in a can of creamy cannellini beans, Parmesan, and broccoli during the last hour so that the rice is cooked perfectly but the broccoli isn't overcooked. This recipe is great when you're at home but still don't want to do a lot of hands-on cooking, and the reward is a one-pot meal that makes for great leftovers.
After getting some feedback from readers who have made this recipe, I retested the recipe based on their suggestions and have revised the recipe to slow-cook in two stages. Stirring the rice is critical for even cooking, and that's a great time to add in the broccoli so that it stays more vibrant.
- Christine, September 2017
Slow Cooker Italian Chicken and Broccoli Bowls
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups long-grain brown rice
1 cup water
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried Italian herb blend, or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme plus 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
1 large broccoli crown (about 12 ounces), cut into large florets
Place the broth, rice, water, onion, garlic, herbs, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper flakes if using in a 5-quart or larger slow cooker and stir to combine. Spread out the the rice mixture so that it is in an even layer and submerged in liquid. Season the chicken with salt and place in an even layer over the rice. Cover and cook 3 hours on the LOW setting.
Add the beans and cheese, stir to combine, and spread back into an even layer. Place the broccoli over the rice in an even layer. Cover and cook until the rice is tender, 1 to 1 1/2 hours more on the LOW setting. Serve topped with more Parmesan.
- Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.