This broccoli and cheese casserole can be served as a side for meats and fish but it can also be a very satisfying vegetarian meal. We are not going to be using a canned, condensed soup for this recipe. Instead, we will make a creamy cheese sauce with cream cheese. We will make a white sauce as a base and then add the cream cheese to it.
The first thing we are going to do is blanch our broccoli. In order to do this we will boil salted water in a pot and add the broccoli. We will let it cook for about 3 minutes, until it is softened and still crisp. Once it is cooked we will remove it from the hot water and place in in some ice water. This will ensure that the broccoli stops cooking. When it has cooled down completely we will drain it and place it in a lightly buttered casserole dish. We want the broccoli to soften but we also want it to stay crisp.
As soon as we have our cheese sauce made we will pour it into the casserole pan and mix it well with the broccoli. We will then add some shredded Cheddar cheese and bread crumbs on top. 35 to 40 minutes in the oven and you will have a very tasty meal.
Broccoli and Cheese Casserole
1 pound broccoli florets
4 tablespoons butter – divided
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
a pinch of nutmeg (optional)
4 oz of cream cheese — room temperature and cut into cubes
1/2 cup shredded white cheddar cheese
1 cup bread crumbs
Salt and Pepper
Heat your oven to 350F (175 C).
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the broccoli and cook for about 3 minutes, until softened. Remove the broccoli from the hot water and transfer to an ice bath. Cool down completely.
Drain the broccoli and place in a lightly buttered casserole dish. Set aside.
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a pan. Work on medium heat. Add the flour and stir constantly for 1 to 2 minutes, until flour is cooked. Add the milk and whisk vigorously. You will have lumps at first but no worries, they will dissolve as you whisk the sauce. Whisk until the sauce thickens and you no longer have any lumps left.
Add the cream cheese and stir until the cheese is dissolved and has no lumps. Taste for salt and adjust. Add some black pepper.
Pour the cheese sauce on the broccoli and mix it well. Sprinkle the cheddar cheese on the broccoli, in an even layer.
Melt the remaining butter and add the bread crumbs. Cook, stirring, for a minute — until the bread crumbs are completely covered in the butter.
Top the cheddar cheese with the bread crumbs in an even layer.
Place in the oven and cook for 35 to 40 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and the top is browned. Remove and serve.