Broccoli Cheese Casserole is a classic side dish that gets a bad rap because generations of moms have resorted to canned soup, frozen broccoli, and mayo. This version is closer to a French gratin, with everything (easily!) made from scratch.
Yesterday was tax day for me, and between gathering everything together and fighting bumper to bumper traffic to meet with our accountant, the day got away from me. So today’s post will be brief, but 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. I hardly ever do casseroles, I didn’t grow up with them, my mom just wasn’t a casserole type, so for me, this is kind of exotic and special. And broccoli/cheese is a combo that has a real cache, it’s warm and inviting, and I think it must press some primitive comfort button in our brains. I highly recommend this if you need a break from frozen peas.
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.
Recipe adapted from An Italian in My Kitchen
- 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)
- Set oven to 325F
- Lightly butter a casserole dish.
- Chop the broccoli, including the tender stems, into bite sized pieces. Put in a glass bowl, add a tiny splash of water, and microwave for 2 minutes. Remove and drain really well.
- Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat and add the flour, stir for about a minute. Slowly pour in the milk, whisking or stirring continuously, until it thickens and just comes to a simmer. Remove from heat.
- Let it cool for a minute, and then stir in the cheese, then the eggs, and seasonings. (When I add the beaten eggs I stir or whisk briskly so they don't scramble) Fold in the broccoli and turn into the casserole. Bake for about 1 hour, or until browned and bubbly. You can run it under the broiler for the last minute or two to brown it, if you like.
- You can vary this recipe by the type of cheese you use. There are so many varieties that would be delicious, from Gruyere, to smoked mozzarella, to a great sharp cheddar. Experiment, or mix them.
- Don’t over cook the broccoli to begin with, it just needs a quick zap to take the raw edge off. It will cook further in the oven, and the casserole is best when there’s a little bite left in it.
- Want broccoli in a skinnier form? Try my Skinny Broccoli Salad!