Broccoli casserole is the ultimate comfort food. Tender pieces of broccoli, melted cheddar cheese, crunchy breadcrumbs on top…I’m tearing up a little just thinking about it.
My recipe keeps the best things about broccoli casserole, i.e. the cheese, broccoli, and breadcrumbs, while lightening things up a bit. I use quinoa for the base, so even though you’re basically eating cheese and bread, you can feel good knowing that quinoa is in there.
I also use 2% milk in the filling instead of cream. Honestly, it tastes better. I hate when cream and cheese compete for first place in a dish, and this avoids that scenario. It mixes well with the cheese and holds the casserole together.
I like to eat this on colder days, the ones that make you think it’s winter again even though it isn’t. That happens a lot in the Midwest during springtime, so it’s nice to have comfort food to turn to.
Also, the leftovers keep well for a few days, so you can double the recipe and eat it for a while. I think I ate my casserole for about three days and I didn’t get sick of it, which is a testimony to how good it is. I’m not a big leftovers fan in general, so anything that makes it past the two day mark is excellent in my book.
Here’s a song to get you started on your broccoli casserole journey.
2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup quinoa (any color), rinsed and drained
16 ounces broccoli florets from 2 large bunches of broccoli
2 Tbsp olive oil
3/4 tsp kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
8 oz cheddar cheese, grated and divided
1 cup 2% milk
1/2 Tbsp butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup-1 cup breadcrumbs (depending on how much you like on top)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Make sure your broccoli florets are cut into bite-size pieces. Toss them with 2 tablespoons olive oil until they’re coated, sprinkle with salt, and arrange in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Roast for about 20 minutes, or until the broccoli is tender and started to brown around the edges.
In the meantime, make the quinoa according to package instructions with the 2 cups of vegetable broth. When it’s done cooking, take the pot off the heat and set it aside to allow it to steam for 10 minutes.
Remove the broccoli from the oven. Reduce the oven heat to 350 degrees F. Stir the 3/4 teaspoon salt, some shakes of ground black pepper, and red pepper flakes into the pot with the quinoa. Reserve 3/4 cup of grated cheese, and mix the rest into the pot with the quinoa. Pour in the milk and stir until everything is combined.
Heat some butter over a small skillet over medium low heat. After it’s melted, toss in the garlic and sauté for a few minutes until fragrant. Add the breadcrumbs and toss everything together until the breadcrumbs are lightly toasted. Remove from heat and pour the breadcrumb mixture into a small bowl to use later.
Pour the quinoa mixture into a 9-inch baking dish and top with the roasted broccoli. Stir until everything is combined, then top with the rest of the cheese followed by the breadcrumbs. Baked uncovered for 25 minutes until the top is golden brown. Allow it to cool slightly before serving. Enjoy!