Broccoli is probably the favorite vegetable in our house. We love it roasted, sautéed, in stir-fries, and here in this broccoli casserole where it gets to star in its very own show! What I love about this casserole is that it’s substantial enough to qualify as a vegetarian main course (please make sure to use vegetable broth!) and dazzling as a side. Plus, leftovers are a total delight, even just warmed in the microwave.
I am not a huge fan of using canned soup in recipes, though I certainly appreciate how it solves a problem in a pinch. However, here a creamy sauce made from broth and dairy is thickened with a flour and butter roux, which provides the same level of body and richness without any additives. It really doesn’t take much more time, and the improved flavor is worth every minute and every bite.
Simple Vegetarian Casserole for the Holidays
This casserole would be happy at home in the middle of any holiday feast. Great for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, or any time you are looking for a slightly decadent vegetable casserole to add to a menu. It also could be a lush main dish any night of the week, especially welcome during cooler weather. A green salad would be a nice counterpoint to the richness of the creamy casserole.
This cheesy Broccoli Casserole is hearty enough to be a vegetarian main course, but also a substantial side for cold weather dinners and holidays.Tweet This
Once you have the broccoli and mushrooms in hand, you may well find that the rest of the ingredients for this casserole are already in your pantry or fridge!
Butter – I use unsalted butter so I can better control the level of salt in the dish. Butter adds wonderful richness and flavor. It also forms the base of the roux, which thickens the sauce and, along with the milk or half-and-half and sour cream, forms the creamiest sauce.
Flour – a small amount of flour blended into the butter allows the sauce to thicken. If you wanted to skip it for a gluten-free broccoli casserole, you could — the sauce will still be nice and creamy, just not as thick.
Whole milk or half-and-half – this is where the creaminess begins. Whole milk will make for a lighter casserole, while half-and-half will be a bit more decadent.
Chopped onions and mushrooms – There is no savory casserole that can’t be improved by the addition of onions and/or mushrooms. You could also use shallots or leeks as a substitute for the onions. Use any mushrooms you like, from button mushrooms to cremini to shiitake or wild mushrooms. For the holidays, I like to use an assortment of wild mushrooms to make the casserole even more special.
Broccoli – cut the broccoli into florets. You can make them on the smaller size for bite-sized forkfuls of broccoli casserole or keep them a bit larger and let people cut up larger chunks with a knife and fork. Don’t throw out those stems! Just peel off the tough outer skin, and cut them into small chunks. The flavor and texture are terrific alongside the florets.
Chicken or vegetable broth – make sure to use vegetable broth if you want to keep this casserole vegetarian. I always do this if I have a vegetarian at the table or if I’m not sure if anyone is vegetarian. And these days, there always seems to be a vegetarian of two in the house!
Sour cream – you can use reduced-fat sour cream if you are trying to keep the fat and calories a bit more restrained, but I am a fan of full-fat dairy products. I’d go for a smaller portion of a richer dish every time.
Shredded cheddar cheese – you can use yellow, orange, or white cheddar…whatever you prefer. And you can use anything from mild to very sharp. Other melting cheeses could also be used, like Monterey Jack, fontina, or provolone. Each of these cheeses will add its own distinct flavor to the casserole. If you wanted to replace ½ cup of the grated cheddar with Parmesan, that will add a nice nutty flavor.
Do You Have to Cook Broccoli Before Putting It in a Casserole?
In this recipe, the broccoli steams until crisp and tender in a pan with the broth and some of the sautéed aromatic vegetables before it’s combined with the rest of the ingredients in the casserole pan. This allows it to cook through evenly and become tender in the oven. It takes all of 4 extra minutes and ensures that your casserole is fork-tender throughout.
One variation on this casserole is to add 1 ½ cups of cooked rice along with the white sauce, which will give the casserole a bit more heft and density. If you want to make this into a chicken and broccoli casserole, you can add 2 cups of shredded or diced cooked chicken when you add the white sauce into the pan with the broccoli. Obviously, this is no longer a vegetarian casserole once you add the chicken.
What to Serve With Broccoli Casserole
Other Broccoli Recipes
- Parmesan Roasted Broccoli
- Broccoli Salad
- Broccoli Cheddar Soup
- Salmon, Potato, and Broccoli Sheet Pan Supper
- Shrimp and Broccoli Stir Fry with Udon Noodles
- 6 tablespoons butter (divided)
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)
- 1 cup whole milk or half-and-half
- 1 cup chopped onions
- 1 cup chopped mushrooms
- 3 pounds broccoli florets (about 10 to 12 cups)
- 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 2 cups sour cream
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- Preheat the oven to 375 F. Butter a shallow 3-quart casserole.
- Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Sprinkle in the flour, season with salt and pepper and whisk until the mixture is smoothly blended and starts to turn a light golden color. Gradually add the milk, whisking constantly. Continue to whisk often until the mixture just comes to a simmer, then whisk frequently for another 4 minutes, until the sauce has thickened. Adjust the heat so the mixture stays at a simmer.
- Meanwhile, in a large skillet with a lid, heat 2 more tablespoons of butter over medium heat until melted. Add the onions and mushrooms and sauté for about 8 minutes until the vegetables are brown, and any liquid that gets released evaporates. Season with salt and pepper. Stir the mushroom mixture into the white sauce.
- Return the skillet to medium high heat and add the broccoli and the broth. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then cover the pan and steam the broccoli for 4 minutes until almost tender.
- Pour the white sauce into the pan with the broccoli and remaining broth (there should be about 1 ½ cups left in the pan) and stir to combine. Add the sour cream and the cheese and stir to blend well. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish and spread it out evenly.
- Bake for 30 minutes until bubbly and golden brown on top. Serve hot.
The nutrition values are provided as an estimate. It is not intended as a substitute for the advice of a qualified healthcare professional.
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