I feel like the term casserole brings to mind some not too flattering associations. Perhaps you think of something that is made with canned soup, or is overly rich, or is a one-note dish with mushy texture. Well if that is the case, then this casserole was made with the goal of disproving all of those stereotypes- because it is straight up good.
The brown rice lends it substance, while the broccoli brings bright vegetable flavor. When covered with a creamy but not too rich cheese sauce (it's made with skim milk, people), and topped with a healthy handful of cheddar cheese, it becomes a perfect fall vegetarian main or side.
This dish totally proves my theory that anything you top with cheese and stick under the broiler is going to be delicious. It's also a good example of why my foray into veganism only last a few months. This girl needs cheese.
Broccoli, Cheddar, and Brown Rice Casserole
- cooking spray
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 large onion, diced
- 2/3 cup uncooked brown rice blend (mine was from trader joe's)
- 1 lb broccoli
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/4 tsp mustard powder
- 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 1 cup skim milk, warmed in microwave
- 2/3 cup vegetable broth
- 6 ounces cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
- freshly cracked black pepper
Spray a medium sauce pan with cooking spray, and heat over medium heat. Add diced onion, and sautee until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add rice to onion and cook for about 1 minute. Add 1 1/3 cups water and a few pinches of salt. Bring mixture to simmer, and reduce heat to the lowest temperature and cook with the lid on for about 55 minutes (or however long your package of rice recommends).
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Put a pot of water on to boil. Meanwhile, peel broccoli stems and cut into one inch chunks, and cut florets into one inch pieces. Cook in the boiling water for about 2 to 3 minutes, and then drain.
You can use this same pot to make the cheese sauce. Melt the butter over medium heat. (Now is also a good time to warm up your milk in the microwave). Once butter is melted, add the mustard powder and garlic and let cook for 1 minute. Add flour and whisk until combined, cooking for 1 to 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in warmed milk, then the broth. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring the whole time. The sauce should thicken slightly.
Remove pan from heat and stir in about 1/3 of your grated cheese. Season liberally with salt and pepper.
Combine rice and broccoli in a two quart baking dish. Pour cheese sauce over it all. Sprinkle your remaining cheese over the top. Bake casserole for about 15 minutes, and then stick under the broiler so the cheese gets melty and brown. Stand back, admire what you've made, and enjoy!
adapted from smitten kitchen