Broccoli and Rice Casserole

I love how casseroles can be prepared in advance so you can make them when you have time and just pop them in the oven when it’s time for dinner. It can be tricky, though, to find good vegetarian casseroles. I was searching for a casserole that used broccoli because I had some leftover from my mac & cheese that I wanted to use up. Almost everything I saw was just cheesy potatoes. While I love a good hash brown casserole, I really wanted something that was rice-based and filling. So, I made it up. It turned out pretty well, if I do say so myself. Again, this is a pretty easy one to adapt however you want, so add meat or whatever veggies you have on hand. You can also reduce the amount of cheese you use, too. If you want to cut out the cheese all together, use 2 cans of cream soup (a cream of chicken would be good for you meat-eaters) instead of making a roux.* (Can you tell I really like making roux?)

Broccoli & Rice Casserole

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dry brown rice
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 head of broccoli, chopped into florets
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup*
  • 1 Tbs. flour
  • 1 Tbs. butter
  • 3/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar
  • 1/2 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
  • pepper, salt, and cayenne to taste

*If you don’t want to use canned creamed soup, you can make your version (like this one), or just double the roux (using milk instead of broth) and add some chopped mushrooms.

Directions

  1. In a medium-sized pot, bring 5 cups of water to a boil. (I know that’s very specific, but it’s for the rice. If the directions on your package of rice calls for a different rice:water ratio, use that.) Add the broccoli and corn to the boiling water, and cook for 2-4 minutes, until the florets become a bright green. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain.
  2. Now add the dry rice to the boiling water, and cook according to the directions. I let the rice boil for 5 minutes on high. Then I turned down the heat to let the rice simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. The rice should be tender when done. Drain.
  3. In a large glass bowl, combine the rice, broccoli, corn, and mushroom soup. Add your spices (I used about 1 1/2 tsp. pepper, 1 tsp. salt, and just a dash of cayenne pepper.). Set aside.
  4. In the same pot, melt the butter. Sauté the onions until translucent and tender. Sprinkle the flour over the onions and melted butter, stirring until it forms a paste. Slowly pour in the vegetable broth, whisking constantly, until the roux thickens. Add the cheese, and stir until the cheese is melted. Take off the heat and let cool slightly.
  5. Prepare an 8×8 casserole dish with deep sides (or similarly sized dish) with cooking spray. (If you’re going to cook the casserole right away, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.)
  6. Stir the cheese sauce over the rice & broccoli, combining everything. Pour into the casserole dish. (If you’re not cooking right away, let cool–just so it’s not piping hot–and cover with foil to store in the fridge. Cook within 12 hours.)
  7. To cook: Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, so the edges are bubbly.

I don’t have pictures for this one because we gobbled it up before I remembered to take any! So trust me that this is a delicious, cheesy, filling casserole.

Veggie Mac & Cheese

Macaroni and cheese is one of my favorite meals. It’s the ultimate comfort food.

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This recipe is easy and adaptable. As you can see in the picture, it’s got 2 different pastas! It’s penne! It’s shells! It’s madness! (It’s because I had a little bit of penne left and a little bit of shells left. Resourcefulness!) Clearly, I prefer penne or shells for mac & cheese (usually not at the same time), but elbows or chifferi (twirly elbows) are great choices, too.

It’s really easy to add veggies or meat to mac & cheese. I had some broccoli in the fridge, and I used a frozen veggie medley (Cascadian Farm with peas, carrots, and corn). It’s also really good with yellow squash. You can use whatever cheese you want. I usually 2 different types (cheddar and something else). This time, I used this new chipotle white cheddar and a sharp cheddar. The chipotle cheese was AMAZING. It added this really subtle kick and smokiness that I loved.

So without further ado:

Veggie Mac & Cheese

Ingredients

  • 10 oz pasta*
  • 1/2 cup cleaned and chopped broccoli
  • 1/4 cup frozen veggie
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 Tbs. butter
  • 2 Tbs. flour
  • 1 cup vegetable stock/broth (or low fat milk for a creamier version)
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1 1/2 cup cheese (I used 1 cup chipotle white cheddar, 1/2 sharp cheddar)

*This isn’t quite a whole box–if you’re using a whole box, use 4 Tbs. butter, 4 Tbs. flour, 2 cups broth/milk, 2 cups cheese.

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a medium-sized pot, boil water. Add your pasta, and cook according to the box instructions. A few minutes before the pasta is done (when it’s soft enough to chew, but it’s still got a little crunch), add your vegetables. This will thaw them if frozen and cook them enough so that they’re soft. Drain.
  3. In the same pot you cooked the pasta, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender. While the onions cook, prepare a small casserole dish with cooking spray. Pour the pasta/veggie mix into the dish.
  4. Whisk in the flour, making a paste. Now slowly stir in the vegetable stock. Keep whisking so the roux gets thick. Season the roux with pepper (and salt, if you choose). Add your cheese, and whisk it all up, melting the cheese.
  5. Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta, and give it a stir so everything is mixed nicely.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden on top and bubbly around the edges.
  7. Enjoy!

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