Comfort food broccoli casserole

 

broccoli casserole, broccoli side dish, cheese, cheddar, cheesy broccoli, kid friendly, delicious, healthy, low fat

This is another "I can't believe this isn't terrible for me!" recipe, from my healthy and indulgent cookbook.

Broccoli casserole is a standard comfort food side dish, but it's typically made with cream, mayonaise, miracle whip and unhealthy amounts of cheese. As awesome as that sounds, here is a lighter version that substitutes healthier ingredients without sacrificing that amazing rich creaminess.

You will need:

  • 3 (10 oz) packages of frozen broccoli florets, thawed. (I stupidly bought broccoli cuts, which worked out fine, but would have been better with just the tops. Those are my favorite part!)
  • cooking spray
  • 1 1/2 cups fat-free milk
  • 2 1/3 Tbs flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 3/4 cup  shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz) fat-free cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup fat-free mayo
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion (about 1/2 a medium onion)
  • 1 (8 oz) can sliced water chestnuts (we couldn't find these so we skipped them)
  • 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tsp butter, melted

broccoli casserole, broccoli side dish, cheese, cheddar, cheesy broccoli, kid friendly, delicious, healthy, low fat

Preheat the oven to 375, and arrange the broccoli in an even layer in a 11 x 7 baking dish coated with cooking spray. Set aside.

Combine milk, flour, salt and pepper in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute or until thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, add cheddar and cream cheese, stir until smooth. Stir in mayo, onion, and water chestnuts. Spoon cheese mixture evenly over broccoli.

broccoli casserole, broccoli side dish, cheese, cheddar, cheesy broccoli, kid friendly, delicious, healthy, low fat

Toss panko in a bowl with melted butter, sprinkle over cheese mixture. Lightly spray panko layer with cooking spray and bake at 375 for 25 minutes, or until cheese begins to bubble and breadcrumbs start browning.

Be warned: this recipe makes 10 servings! It's perfect if you have guests over, or if you really love broccoli and dont mind leftovers. Otherwise, you might want to halve the recipe. 

CALORIES 141; FAT 4.9g (sat 2.6g, mono 1.3g, poly 0.7g); PROTEIN 8.6g; CARB 17.9g; FIBER 4.1g; CHOL 15mg; IRON 1mg; SODIUM 484mg; CALC 173mg

broccoli casserole, broccoli side dish, cheese, cheddar, cheesy broccoli, kid friendly, delicious, healthy, low fat

This was so cheesy and creamy and delicious. It's the perfect side dish, especially if you have picky kids. Even I would have eaten this as a child, and that's saying something!

The thick sauce compliments the broccoli, but doesn't quite mask the flavor so us adults still know we're eating something good for us. I loved the sauce so much that I'm trying to think of how I could adapt this recipe into a main dish. Maybe by adding chicken or pasta or both. Does anybody have any ideas?

I'm not sure how the water chestnuts would have added to the recipe, I thought it was fine without them but I imagine it would add an interesting crunch. I'll have to try it again. And there were mixed reviews about the onions: I liked them, my mother thought they made the dish much better, and Ken hated them. So it's subjective I guess, you'll have to decide what you think about them.

Anyway, congrats on making it through the first week of 2012! Hope these healthier recipes inspired you to be creative with your cooking, and reminded you that you don't need to sacrifice flavor for calories 🙂

Next week's theme is PIZZA! We're going to make our own dough, whip up some fancy pizzas and calzones, and even a delicious dessert pizza. 

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