Flavorful florets! A recipe to make anyone eat their broccoli
Why is broccoli so thoroughly misunderstood? Mostly, bad preparation. If there’s one way to make a lifelong enemy of broccoli, it’s by cooking it into mushy, army-green oblivion — a sight many of us are still trying to erase from our childhood memories. One of the best ways to keep it crisp is a quick steam (3 to 4 minutes) until it’s barely fork-tender and a bright, emerald green. Then you’re ready for everything from stir-fries to pasta dishes to casseroles.
Still not convinced? Try cheese and broccoli, a great combo that creates some great gateway dishes for finicky children and spouses. Also, try roasting it, which brings out bold, caramelized flavors that can convert nonbelievers into lifelong fans.
A wide, shallow baking or gratin dish for this casserole provides plenty of space for the crumbs on top to get crunchy – another crowd-pleasing texture.
- 6 cups bite-size broccoli florets and stems, peeled and cut into small pieces
- 1½ cups (6 ounces) hot cooked boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size chunks
- ¼ cup diced, drained jarred roasted red pepper, patted dry
- 3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons butter, divided
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1½ cups 2 percent reduced-fat milk
- 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
- Pinch ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon coarse salt
- 1⁄8 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
- 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
- 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
Preheat oven to 425F. Coat a 10-inch round shallow baking dish with cooking spray.
Steam or boil broccoli 3 minutes, or until crisp-tender. Arrange in dish and top with chicken and red pepper.
In medium saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons butter. Add flour and cook 1 minute, whisking constantly. Add milk and broth, whisking constantly until mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat and cook 2 minutes. Stir in nutmeg, salt, pepper and cheese. Pour over chicken.
In a small skillet, melt remaining 2 teaspoons butter; add breadcrumbs. Sprinkle over chicken mixture. Bake 20 minutes, or until hot.
— Recipe by Jean Kressy