I wanted to share with you this classic broccoli cheese casserole I made the other night because everyone loved it — even the leftovers were fantastic. We’ve had a run of chilly weather so I ditched the salad and made this super cozy side dish to go with our chicken.
If you’re wondering if your holiday table really needs another creamy casserole, let me tell you emphatically that the answer is yes.
This recipe doesn’t include canned soup or mayo ~
and there’s no bland rice or watery frozen broccoli to muck it up, so if you grew up with that kind of casserole, trust me and give this one a try. It starts with a pound of barely steamed broccoli, a homemade white sauce, a good dose of good cheese, a couple of eggs help bind it together, and finally my secret ingredient, a grating of fresh nutmeg. It’s a really good, workhorse of a recipe, it pairs well with so many meals, and pleases just about everyone.
Keep Your Casserole Easy with These 3 Steps
1. Blanch the broccoli. Blanching and draining the broccoli before adding it to the casserole prevents the broccoli’s moisture from ruining your cheese sauce. You can do this in advance, if you need to. And on really busy nights, you can use frozen broccoli florets instead.
2. Use an oven-safe skillet. Using one dish to cook the sauce and bake the casserole makes this dish even easier. We like a large cast iron skillet, but feel free to use whatever oven-safe skillet you’ve got. Alternatively, you can transfer this to a casserole dish before baking.
3. Bake, don’t broil! To avoid burning the crackers, you’ll actually want to bake, not broil this dish. The short bake time also helps thicken the cheese sauce!
- 1 pound broccoli florets.
- 3 Tbsp butter.
- 3 Tbsp flour.
- 2 cups whole or low fat milk.
- 2 cups 8 ounces shredded cheese (I used an Italian cheese blend).
- 2 large eggs whisked.
- 1 tsp salt.
- lots of fresh cracked black pepper.
- a good grating of fresh nutmeg about 1/8 ~ 1/4 tsp, to taste.
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)
1 1/2 cups crushed rectangular buttery crackers (about 40; such as Club)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Place broccoli and water in a large microwavable bowl. Cover loosely with plastic wrap, and microwave on high until tender, about 8 minutes. Set aside.
Melt three tablespoons of the butter in a Dutch oven over medium-high. Add onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about five minutes. Add garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, one minute. Sprinkle flour evenly over onion mixture, and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Whisk in milk, and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened, about two minutes. Reduce heat to medium, and whisk in mayonnaise, mustard, salt, and pepper until smooth. Add cheese, and stir until melted and smooth. Add broccoli, and stir to coat. Transfer to a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch broiler-proof baking dish, and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Cover with aluminum foil, and chill until ready to bake, up to one day ahead.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove casserole from refrigerator while oven preheats. Bake, covered, until hot and bubbly, about one hour.
Place remaining one tablespoon butter in a medium-size microwavable bowl, and microwave on high until melted, about 15 seconds. Add crackers and parsley, and stir to combine. Sprinkle evenly over casserole. Increase oven temperature to broil on high, and broil casserole until top is golden brown, about one minute. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
1 teaspoon stone-ground mustard
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
1 apple, diced
1 pear, diced
¼ cup dried cranberries
1 (10-ounce) package mixed baby greens
¼ cup crumbled blue cheese
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
Whisk the mustard and vinegar together in a small bowl. Drizzle in the olive oil while whisking to create a dressing; set aside.
Place the apple, pear, cranberries, baby greens, blue cheese, and walnuts into a large salad bowl. Toss gently to mix, then pour on the dressing,
and toss to coat.
Green Bean Bundles
4 cans of whole green beans
1 bottle Catalina dressing
1 pound bacon
Salt and pepper
Drain beans. Cut bacon in half. Take five to six beans and put them in a bunch, wrap with one piece of bacon. Insert toothpick. Depending on how many people you are feeding, I used the four cans of beans and one package of bacon for our dinner party. Usually it is two bundles per person.
I then put my bundles in a large bowl, just stack them on top of eat other. As I stack, I use my seasonings, not a lot but just lightly. I then cover my bundles with dressing. At least half the bottle, if not more. Put in the refrigerator overnight.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, use a baking sheet, and lay them out close together. Use more seasoning, and then make sure they all have dressing on them. I usually just spoon the dressing over them. Bake until the bacon is done. It takes about 35 to 40 minutes.