One of my favorite marriage stories happened this year when I sent my husband off to the store with a list a mile long. I don’t remember why I couldn’t go, and it may well have been because I didn’t feel like it, thank you very much. He ended up at the check out line, and the cashier said, “Wow, you have a lot of groceries.”
He told her, that yes, indeed this was much more than he usually buys and it took him an hour to find everything, but, “If my wife had been shopping, it would have taken her about 10 minutes.”
Which is a bit of an understatement, yet there is some truth there. Our grocery list holds a fairly stagnant lineup of foods. Though we rarely eat the same meals from week to week, the ingredients that go into our dinners are similar. There’s always some pasta, chicken, rice or quinoa, and broccoli.
There is always broccoli.
I wasn’t one of those children who despised broccoli, in fact, I’ve never been able to get enough of the stuff. As such, it always finds its way into the cart on my weekly trips to the store, not because I meticulously plan the vegetables that will accompany our meals, but because I like it, plain and simple. I can’t think of a week in my life that’s passed where I haven’t eaten broccoli at least twice. And I’ve never tired of it. Steamed, with salt, plus butter when I feel extra-indulgent. And a squeeze of lemon like Grandma Glass of Milk taught me.
Thus, when Deb put her spin on broccoli, cheddar, and rice casserole, I wasted no time in getting it on the table. Holy dream flavors, Batman. This is absolutely amazing, and the way the flavors work together feels like someone really thought about the way the ingredients would meld, just like The New York Times said it would.
To make broccoli, cheddar, and wild rice casserole, you will need:
- 3 T butter, divided
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2/3 C uncooked wild rice (or, like I had, a wild rice blend)
- 1 pound broccoli
- 1 garlic clove, minced (or, garlic powder, like I used in the ultimate act of laziness)
- pinch cayenne pepper
- 2 T flour
- 1 C whole milk (yes, you can use lowfat, but I’d hesitate before choosing skim)
- 2/3 C low-sodium chicken broth (veggie is fine too)
- 8 oz. grated cheddar cheese, divided
- freshly ground black pepper
Heat 1 T butter in skillet till melted. Add onion, and saute till translucent, about 5 minutes. Add rice, and cook 1 minute. Add 1 2/3 C water (or other amount depending on package directions). Bring mixture to simmer, then reduce heat, and cook on low, covered, for 50 minutes.
Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Peel broccoli stems, and cut into small, one-inch chunks. Cut florets into pieces about the same size. Cook in boiling, salted water, for 2-3 minutes, then drain.
Melt remaining 2T butter in saucepan. Add garlic and cayenne, and let cook for 1 minute. Add flour, and whisk till combined, cooking 1 to 2 more minutes. Add milk and broth, whisking constantly. Let mixture come to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, continuing to stir, till mixture thickens. Depending on the milk you used, this will take between 5-10 minutes. The lower your milk is in fat, the longer it will take, and the thinner the sauce will be, no matter how much you stir or cook. Remove pan from heat and stir in 1/3 of cheese. Season with salt and pepper.
Place broccoli in bottom of oven-proof skillet, and top with sauce. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top of casserole and bake for 10-15 minutes, until sauce is bubbling, and cheese is fully melted. Crank the oven up to broil and give the casserole another 2-3 minutes to crisp it all up.