Broccoli and Cheese Casserole

This is a quick post (presents still need to be wrapped, some even need to be purchased!) and an equally quick recipe. This casserole comes together in a snap and has all the old fashioned homey flavours of the casseroles of yore: a mild mannered vegetable complimented by onion, almost lost in cheese and condensed soup. It’s a great side dish, does well at potlucks, and is a great recipe to have on hand if you have vegetarians (though not vegans) at your Christmas dinner table because the richness and heartiness gives it the stick to your ribs quality that steamed veggie sides just don’t have.

My family had never had anything like this at Christmas in my memory (we are usually more of the steamed carrots type). It wasn’t until, many years ago, my uncle Garth’s girlfriend, long since my aunt Tabb, came to stay for Christmas. She brought with her the recipe for her family’s Broccoli Cheese Casserole. We were hooked. It was delicious and has appeared at every Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner since. Even luckier for us, so has Tabb!

The original calls for pre-steaming the broccoli and covering the top with crushed Ritz crackers, both of which I am usually too busy/lazy to do, but they do add a certain classic character to this family favourite. If you want to be true to the original, steam the broccoli until fork tender before mixing into the sauce and cheese and top the whole thing with as many cracker crumbs as you can fit on the surface before baking. If you pre-steam, reduce the cooking time slightly, but let it cook until it browns and bubbles, that’s the best part.

Aunt Tabb’s Broccoli Cheese Casserole

Broccoli florets from 2-3 heads of broccoli plus stems, chopped

1 large onion, diced

2 cups of cheddar cheese, grated

1 can of mushroom soup (reduced sodium, fat, etc. works great)

1 cup of mayonnaise (low fat works fine)

1 clove of garlic (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a large casserole (or stir together in a big bowl first) until the broccoli has been thoroughly coated with the wet ingredients. Bake at 375 for about 40 minutes until bubbling and browned on top. Serve hot (though it makes great cold leftovers too).

Begin with unassuming and virtuous vegetables.

Add delicious but indulgent creamy evil ingredients. Mix well.

Bake for 40 mins or so …

…and eventually it will look like this 🙂

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