Best Broccoli Rice Casserole Ever

brocolli riceJames is all about a broccoli rice casserole, and I’ve never been a big fan until now.  I found this recipe in Southern Living magazine.  Well, this is the real story:  I dug the recipes out of drawers and cook books and from my favorite internet sites.  My magazines, notes and pictures were scattered all over the place because I was trying to put together a great Thanksgiving menu with a mixture of creative comfort foods and a good  traditional mix of old fashion recipes with a good blend of healthy foods.

This is the one time of the year that James takes an initiative to help me in the kitchen.  So, I ask him, “What do you want on the menu besides the normal green bean casserole?”  and the answer to that question was, “Let’s have broccoli casserole.”  Ugh!!!… was my first thought, but right there in front of me on the cover of one of my favorite food magazines was a broccoli casserole, all cheesy and delicious looking.  This is the recipe I found, but of course, I had to improve it with a little extra of this and a little less of that and of course a few substitutions to make it healthier.

But anyway, here’s my version of the best broccoli rice casserole ever.  Oh, and there’s only one picture (the feature pic) because when I removed it from the oven, the smell was divine.  We tasted it, and the whole family devoured it before I could get anything ready for the normal photo shoot.  No kidding!  Here’s my recipe, and it definitely needs to be on your list of family recipes:

Best Broccoli Rice Casserole Ever
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Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8-10
 
Delicious, but needs a disclaimer: this recipes has a few unhealthy ingredients so use it only on occasion and substitute healthier ingredients whenever possible.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs (read ingredients to find the healthiest brand)
  • 2½ cups shredded sharp cheddar (save 1 cup for topping 1½ cups mixture)
  • 6 tablespoons real butter
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups evaporated milk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 fresh thyme sprig (or 1 teaspoon dry thyme)
  • 2½ cups onion, chopped
  • ½ cup celery, diced
  • ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (more if you're Cajun...lol)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup all purpose flour
  • 1½ cups uncooked long-grain (I like the easy to cook type, the other type may require precooking or your casserole will be crunchy)
  • ¾ cup Greek yogurt (organic, unflavored)
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ⅛ tsp nutmeg
  • 5 cups fresh broccoli florets (about 4 heads)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt the half the butter and toss with the panko bread crumbs. Remove from heat and toss with 1 cup of cheese. Set aside.
  2. Put broth, milk, bay leaf and thyme in a small sauce pan. Bring to a simmer on low heat.
  3. Melt the rest of the butter in a dutch oven or oven proof skillet. Saute onion, celery, and garlic in the butter until tender. Stir in the flour.
  4. Remove the bay leaf and any thyme twigs if using fresh thyme. Slowly pour the creamy milk mixture into the onion, garlic, flour mixture.
  5. Add the remaining 1½ cup cheese and stir until well blended and smooth.
  6. Stir in the rice, the Greek yogurt, the nutmeg, and the mayonnaise.
  7. Bake this mixture at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until the rice is tender.
  8. In the meantime, prepare the broccoli by chopping it into small pieces. Microwave the broccoli with ¼ cups of water and ½ tsp salt in a covered bowl for about 5 minutes. Make sure the broccoli is light green and tender.
  9. drain the broccoli and pat it dry.
  10. Stir the broccoli into the creamy rice mixture.
  11. Sprinkle the breadcrumb and cheddar cheese mixture on top and broil for about 3 minutes or until golden brown. This should stand a few minutes before serving.

 

 

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