I distinctly remember the first time I had a broccoli-cheese casserole.
I don’t know that when I was little, we ever mucked up vegetables with things like cheese… butter, sure, definitely salt and pepper, but no cheese. We enjoyed vegetables on their own too much. But anyway, back to that casserole.
I was about 21, and was at my first Vegetarian Friday and this delicious concoction of cheese, broccoli, and Ritz crackers and it was SO good. I was shocked when the girl who made it told me the simple procedure for putting it together.
Broccoli. Reduced-fat Velveeta, Ritz crackers, bake. That was it. I made it all the time that next year, and sometimes, usually around this time of year, crave it.
I’m a huge fan of broccoli, cheese, and some sort of starch, and if I can beef it up with protein to make it a meal, I’m thrilled. So when the craving hit today for cheesy goodness with broccoli, I went to the grocery store for supplies.
This made about five hefty servings, though without the pasta, it would’ve been a great dinner for two.
Cheesy Broccoli Chicken Casserole
- 2 large broccoli crowns, chopped
- 2 chicken breasts, diced
- 4 slices bacon, diced
- 1 head garlic
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 3 Tablespoons butter
- 3 Tablespoons flour
- 1 1/2 cups low fat milk
- 1/2 cup low fat sour cream
- 2 cups cooked whole wheat pasta
- 8 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese
- Pre-heat the oven to 400*
- Cut the top off the head of garlic, remove the extra papery skin, and place on a square of aluminum foil. Drizzle with olive oil and wrap with the foil. Bake for about 30 minutes until the cloves are soft. Set aside.
- Lower the oven temperature to 350*.
- Fry the diced bacon until crispy, then add the chicken and cook until lightly browned on the outside.
- Add the broccoli to the pan, stir well, then put the chicken, bacon, and broccoli in a large casserole dish. Top with the noodles and stir lightly.
- Melt the butter in the same frying pan. Whisk in the flour to form a roux and stir until “blonde” or lightly browned.
- Add the milk and stir well.
- Lower the heat to medium and slowly simmer until thickened. Add two cloves of garlic from the head of roasted garlic and smash with the whisk.
- Add 3/4 of the cheddar cheese and whisk until melted.
- Add the sour cream to this mixture and stir well.
- Pour the cheese sauce over the top of the casserole and top with remaining cheese.
- Bake until brown and bubbly.