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Recipes: Broccoli cheese rice casserole

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Any recipe your family likes, is easy to make and also contains three of your favorite foods has to be one of the best in your recipe box. Such is the case with this recipe for broccoli cheese rice casserole.

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What sets Denise Gee’s recipe (Southern Casseroles) apart from other broccoli cheese rice casseroles is her use of fresh ingredients as opposed to the use of mostly canned goods. Her use of gouda (instead of cheddar) is a nice twist, especially for those in your family who are cheese-lovers.

Ingredients:

4 cups fresh broccoli florets (see notes)
½ cup coarsely chopped sweet onion
½ cup coarsely chopped celery
1-2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup sliced fresh button mushrooms
2 Tablespoons butter
1-2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk
½ teaspoon ground sea or kosher salt
⅛ teaspoon ground white pepper
2 cups cooked long-grain rice
2 cups shredded gouda cheese (see notes)
½ cup lightly toasted sliced almonds (see notes)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ᵒ F.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the broccoli, onion, celery, and garlic a few times until finely chopped. Add the mushrooms and pulse a few more times to ensure all the vegetables are finely chopped (but not pureed)
  3. In a Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the vegetables and lemon juice and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, until the vegetables soften. Add the flour and stir well to fully incorporate, cooking another 2 minutes.
  4. Slowly whisk in the evaporated milk, salt, and pep- per and stir until well combined. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to fold in the cooked rice and 1 1/2 cups of the cheese and stir until well combined, about 2 minutes.
  5. Lightly grease a 2-quart baking dish. Spoon in the broccoli-rice mixture and spread it evenly in the dish. Top with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese.
  6. Cover and bake for 25 minutes. Uncover, add the almonds, and bake for another 7 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the mixture is bubbly. (If desired, turn the broiler on low to get a more golden topping, but watch it closely to ensure the nuts don’t burn.)
  7. Serve immediately. (Serves 8-10)

Notes:

  • One 10-ounce package frozen chopped broccoli, cooked and drained, can be substituted, but won’t offer the “meatier” texture and bright taste of fresh broccoli.
  • Gouda’s complex depth of flavor is rich, slightly sweet, and nutty; hence, the best substitutes are, in this order, Edam, Havarti, Muenster, mild Cheddar, Cheddar-Jack, or only if necessary, Monterey Jack, which has the same semisoft consistency but is comparatively nondescript in flavor. Avoid using smoked Gouda because it, along with sharp Cheddar, will overpower this dish’s fresh vegetable flavor.
  • Instead of topping this with sliced almonds, you can use 1 cup toasted slivered almonds in the mixture, but I think adding the sliced ones near the end is much more attractive. If you really want almond joy, you could have both slivered and sliced. If the mixture becomes dry as the rice absorbs the liquid, add more milk before reheating.

Storage:

  • This can be made the evening before you plan to bake it; just add the final layer of cheese and nuts before cooking.
  • Cooked and tightly covered, this will keep well in the refrigerator for up to 3 days and in the freezer for up to 2 months (just add the final layer of cheese and almonds after defrosting and then baking).
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