This casserole was inspired by Avgolemeno, the classic Greek chicken soup with rice and lemon. It's often served as a first course in Greek restaurants, and it's so good that it often outshines the main course. Don’t be fooled by the short ingredient list, this simple dish is clean and bright, yet satisfying. You can serve this as an appetizer, but at home I prefer to pair it with a Greek salad and pita for a satisfying meal. Honestly, I often don't even bother with the salad.
Avgolemeno gets its creamy texture from eggs whisked into the warm broth, this casserole replicates the custardy texture with starch from the rice and a dollop of cream cheese. It’s important not to rinse the rice, as the starchy dust is essential for creamy consistency.
Pro tip: For a bolder Greek flavor, stir in 1/4 cup of chopped Kalamata olives before baking.