1 pound bacon, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
1/4 cup flour
2 1/2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 cups cooked rice
2 small zucchini, coarsely shredded
1/3 cup sliced ripe olives


1. In large skillet cook bacon over medium heat until crisp; remove to paper towels. Pour off drippings from skillet, reserving 3 tablespoons and discarding the rest. Return 1 tablespoon drippings to skillet; add onion and cook over medium heat until transparent. Remove onions from pan and reserve, leaving skillet over medium heat.
2. Add remaining 2 tablespoons drippings to skillet; whisk in flour until smooth. Gradually whisk in milk and cook until thickened and bubbly, stirring constantly. Stir in salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese.
3. Spread rice in an 11 3/4x7 1/2-inch baking dish. Scatter half the bacon and the onion over the rice and pour 1 cup sauce over all. Sprinkle the zucchini, olives and remaining bacon over the top and pour remaining sauce over all. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and refrigerate overnight.
4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Remove casserole from refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes. Bake for 25 minutes, remove the foil, and continue to bake for 20 minutes until bubbly.

This convenient casserole should be prepared the day before it is baked and served, saving you from last-minute preparation and clean-up. Serve it as part of a brunch buffet with rolls, muffins and fresh seasonal fruits, or for dinner with a green or sliced orange and red onion salad with vinaigrette.

Bacon and Rice Bake
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