Summer needs comfort food just as much as every other season. Sure, there are those super-hot days when you can really only manage to eat a salad for dinner, but there are other days when you crave something a little more satisfying. Maybe the heat finally broke or there's a summer storm brewing — whatever the reason, it's important to have recipes on hand that fit that mood. This one is exactly that. Chicken thighs bake on a bed of rice that has been flavored with diced, in-season tomatoes for a crowd-pleasing casserole that needs nothing more than a handful of chopped fresh basil to make it taste like summer.
A Simple Summer Casserole
The best thing about this recipe is just how simple it is to prepare. There's no need to boil the rice before baking it with the chicken. Instead, the rice bakes right in the oven while the chicken is cooking on top of it. You'll pour a lot of chicken broth into the baking dish, but don't worry that the rice won't absorb it — give it some time and you'll have fluffy, tomato-rich grains, without any fuss whatsoever.
Tomato-Basil Chicken and Rice
medium tomatoes, cored and diced
long-grain brown rice
kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
(1 quart) low-sodium chicken broth
bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 2 to 2 1/2 pounds)
lightly packed chopped fresh basil leaves
Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 400°F. Coat a 9×13-inch baking dish with olive oil or cooking spray.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onions and sauté until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and tomato paste and sauté for 1 minute more. Stir in the tomatoes, rice, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
Transfer the rice mixture to the prepared baking dish. Pour the broth evenly over the rice. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper on both sides and place them skin-side up on the rice.
Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake 1 hour. Uncover and bake until the rice absorbs all of the liquid and the chicken is cooked through and the juices run clear, 30 to 40 minutes more.
Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.