This recipe was basically an accident. A very happy accident according to Nick. I’m not crazy about broccoli. I’m trying, but it’s just not a vegetable I can get very excited about. Turning it into something cheesy and creamy definitely helps though.
I had plans of making some sort of combination of creamed spinach and spinach casserole (something I’m still planning to try in the future). We had a large tub of spinach in the fridge that needed to be used, and I was in the mood to cook. The use by date on the spinach was two days away, so I assumed it was fine. With two days to go it should have been fine, but when I opened the tub the spinach smelled bad, and was slimy. Using that seemed more like a recipe for disaster than anything good.
I had already started cooking and baking some other things, so going out to buy more spinach wasn’t an option. I really didn’t want to just open a can of green beans. That just seemed so boring. So I decided it was time to improvise. We had broccoli in the freezer, so I decided to adapt what I had in mind for the spinach to work for broccoli.
The broccoli I used was a bag of florets that I think were already partially steamed. It’s the kind that cooks in its bag in the microwave. I think it would be fine to use just plain frozen broccoli florets, but I think they would need to spend a little more time on the stove.
12 oz. bag frozen broccoli florets
1 Tbsp, plus 1/4 tsp salt (I know that sounds like a lot of salt, but most of it goes in water that gets drained)
5 cups water
½ cup finely chopped onion
2 gloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup half and half
1 cup whole milk
3 Tbsp butter, plus more for greasing the pan
1 & 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp pepper
In a large pot, bring water and 1 Tbsp salt to a full boil. Stir in broccoli, cover, and remove from heat. Let sit for 5 minutes. Drain well. Return to pot or large mixing bowl.
In a medium pan melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until onion just begins to become translucent.
Add flour, stirring constantly for 1 - 2 minutes, just until four begins to turn golden.
Whisk in half and half and milk, whisking until well combined. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, for 7 - 10 minutes, until it’s thickened. Stir in 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Stir until melted, about one minute.
Add mixture to broccoli, along with nutmeg, pepper, and remaining 1/4 tsp salt. Stir until well combined.
Pour mixture into generously butter square baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining ½ cup Parmesan cheese.
Bake at 350 for 15 - 20 minutes, until cheese is melted and edges begin to bubble.
Enjoy! (Or mostly enjoy, while kind of wishing it was spinach instead.)