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Archive for the ‘cheese sauce’ Category

We love broccoli. It’s so good and delivers great taste and terrific nutrients to promote good health. You can tell just by looking at it! The best, freshest broccoli has such a deep green color, tinged with purple. It’s a visual as well as a culinary treat. Have I won any converts? 

Perhaps those who confess to hating broccoli were forced, as children, to eat broccoli, boiled to sulfury excess, the broccoli, not the children. It should be steamed or sauteed, or even eaten raw, as it is often served in a vegetable tray as an hors d’oeuvre. Some people prefer to blanch the broccoli for a minute and then to refresh it in ice water instead of serving it raw. 

Sauteed with garlic slivers it is delicious. Steamed and garnished with grated parmesan it is delightful. Served with cheese sauce it is dreamy and rich. Added to a stir-fry it is de-lovely. Let’s face it. It’s versatility makes it doggone essential in a well-stocked kitchen. Toss it in a salad. Make it into a soup, or a vegetable on the side use it for a vehicle for delivering creamy dips to the mouth! 

I’m going overboard here, I realize. So, without further ado, I offer an idea for a make-ahead vegetable casserole using broccoli or cauliflower, or both combined, as their tastes are much the same, cauliflower being a bit more delicate, perhaps. 

(To make it ahead, prepare it up to baking it in the oven, step 5. Cover with foil and refrigerate until ready to bake. Add 10-15 minutes to the baking time, or bring to room temperature before baking, uncovered.)

BROCCOLI GRATIN

1 large bunch of broccoli, 2 pounds or so

3 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons flour

1 1/2 c. milk, whole if you can spare the fat and calories, lower fat if necessary

salt and pepper to taste

1/8-1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, you can grate your own if you wish

1 cup grated cheese (cheddar, swiss, or gruyere, whatever you prefer)*

bread crumbs, optional

 

1. Preheat the oven to 350-375 degrees.

2. Break up the broccoli into large florets. Drop into a pot of boiling salted water and cook for about 4-5 minutes, until just beginning to be tender. Drain the broccoli and set aside.

3. Make a white sauce by melting the butter in a heavy saucepan, adding the flour when the butter starts to bubble. Stir the flour for a couple of minutes to remove the raw taste of the flour and whisk in the milk. Keep whisking to prevent it from scorching on the bottom of the pan. When it is thickened and bubbly, remove it from the heat and add the seasonings and most of the cheese. Keep some back to sprinkle on the top later. 

4. Butter a gratin dish or other shallow ovenproof pan. Spread the broccoli in the pan and pour the cheese sauce over it. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese. You may also strew bread crumbs on top of the sauce if you wish.

5. Bake for 30-40 minutes at 350 or 25-30 at 375, or until the top of the casserole is browned. 

 

* I prefer to use gruyere and parmesan combined, although cheddar is my husband’s favorite.

 

 

 

 


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The bane of many children’s, and adults’, dinner plates, broccoli has always been a favorite of mine.  As a child, I ate frozen broccoli spears, sometimes with cheese sauce, and sometimes just plain, but I don’t remember even seeing fresh broccoli in the local groceries.

I have found and enjoyed many different casseroles, soups and salads with broccoli as a main ingredient and am always on the lookout for something new. At the bottom of this post, I will give you a recipe for a broccoli salad that often appears on our Christmas Eve Feast menu. This might be the “something new” that you are looking for.

It would be hard to find another vegetable as loaded with nutritional goodies as broccoli.  Full of vitamin A, C, B1, B2, B3, B6,  iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and zinc, it has lots of the trace mineral chromium as well as phytochemicals. Look for dark green flowerets and stems without hollow cores to be sure to get the freshest possible.

I always cut a shallow “X” in the bottom of the stems before steaming broccoli, which supposedly helps them cook faster.  I never peel the stems, although I see recipes that call for it. Sometimes a sprinkling of Parmesan is all that I do before serving and sometimes I fix a cheese sauce. My sister fixes a delicious broccoli dish with lots of garlic and soy sauce. I’ll get the recipe from her and pass it along later.

We used to have a phony “Eggs Benedict” for dinner.  I would top toasted English muffins with a poached egg and surround it with broccoli. With cheddar cheese sauce on top, it was a delicious dinner, although not exactly low fat, the way I made the cheese sauce. I had a recipe that was delicious for extremely quick cheese sauce: 1 c. milk, 1 c. mayonnaise, and 1 c. grated cheddar cheesePut in a saucepan, whisk together and cook over med-low heat, with a stir now and then.  Mmmmmm. That served 4 people but was still rather heavy on the fat and calories.  An optional addition to the above is a slice of canadian bacon, or even ham chunks added to the cheese sauce.  Broccoli is what made that dish attractive as well as tasty, and added some good nutrients to boot.

BROCCOLI-CAULIFLOWER SALAD

large head broccoli, cut into florets, thickest part of the stems reserved for soup.

head cauliflower, cut into florets

4 strips bacon, cooked, drained and chopped

1/2 c. red onion, chopped

1/2 c.Mayonnaise

1/2 c. Green goddess dressing*

1/2 t. Celery seed

Black pepper

1 ripe tomato, cut into wedges, or cherry tomatoes for garnish

——————-

In a large mixing bowl, mix mayonnaise and green goddess dressing with seasonings and bacon pieces.  Add the broccoli, cauliflower and onion and stir gently.  Refrigerate overnight or at least 6 hours.  Garnish with tomato wedges or cherry tomatoes, halved if large, just before serving.

* Green Goddess dressing can be hard to find.  I use 7 Seas when I can find it.  If I can’t find it,  I sometimes substitute creamy italian dressing, but look for the green goddess, it makes a difference. But here is a recipe for making your own.

Happy dining,

Morgana

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