Healthy Broccoli, Rice, & Cheese Casserole – a classic favorite, broccoli and cheese, in a healthier casserole that uses cauliflower rice and a homemade cheese sauce!
Alright, let’s do this balance thing right, shall we?
How about one of your favorite casseroles turned healthier without you even noticing!?! Think it’s possible?
Let me tell you – it’s possible and it’s here today. You know I wouldn’t lie to you.
What’s this “casserole”?
One of my favorites growing up was Broccoli and Cheese Casserole (which usually had chicken in it… pre-semi-vegetarian days); it was so creamy, cheesy, and comforting. Because it had two favorite past-life staples: canned cream of ____ (chicken in this case) condensed soup and Velveeta.
Ok, so let’s back up. I filled you in on my old love of Velveeta a while ago, and while of course there’s something about it’s silky, cheesy, texture and taste, but I’ve strived so hard to focus on what I put in my body is real, non-chemical food.
It’s ironic that I have to say non-chemical food, isn’t it? I digress…
So anyway, I’ve been missing this childhood staple. So, of course, I had to try to make it not only more “real” but healthier too, because 2017 is the year of BALANCE remember?!
I’m happy to say I succeeded. Not only is this healthy version of Broccoli, Rice, and Cheese Casserole deliciously flavorful, but it’s good for you, too!
Can’t. Beat. That.
What makes this casserole healthy?
It’s now healthy thanks to… cauliflower rice!
Have you tried it before? I’ve made it as a base of this curry and several other dishes, but I hadn’t ever tried it in a casserole. Lemme just say – you wouldn’t even know it’s not all rice in there!
I do add a little bit of basmati rice to this recipe, I think it adds an extra dimension to the casserole (and let’s be honest, I love rice and couldn’t completely part with it).
You could completely leave it out if you wanted to, though! Just be sure to take out the vegetable broth if you do, it’s there to help the rice cook.
The cheese sauce rivals Velveeta, too 😉
It’s full of flavor with the addition of white pepper, thyme, garlic, and dijon mustard. I highly recommend shredding your own cheese for it – it will melt into your béchamel better (pre-shredded cheese has a coating on it to prevent clumping… or something like that).
What are some of your favorite childhood foods? Have you had success making them healthier and/or more real-foods based?
Healthy Broccoli, Rice, & Cheese Casserole
- 1 bunch of broccoli cut into bite sized pieces
- 1 head cauliflower
- 3 Tablespoons butter
- 3 Tablespoons flour
- 2-3 garlic cloves
- 1 3/4 cup milk heated
- 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
- 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon thyme chopped
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard optional
- Pepper to taste
- 1 1/2 - 1 3/4 cups cheddar cheese + additional for topping shredded
- 3/4 cup vegetable broth
- 3/4 cup basmati rice
- Place cauliflower chunks into food processor. Pulse until it resembles rice (approximately 7-8 pulses). Set aside.
- Pre-heat oven to 350°F.
- Heat milk in a small saucepan. In a skillet, melt butter. Add flour and garlic; whisk for two minutes. Pour in heated milk while whisking. Continue stirring for two minutes until boiling. Reduce heat and let simmer for an additional 2 minutes.
- Whisk in white pepper, salt, pepper, thyme, and dijon mustard. Remove from heat and whisk in shredded cheese until melted.
- In a 9x13 baking dish, mix together vegetable broth, cheese sauce, broccoli, cauliflower rice, and basmati rice. Top with additional cheese if desired. Spread evenly in pan. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until bubbly and liquid is absorbed. Test rice as needed.