Years ago when the kids were little we had a favorite chicken and broccoli casserole that contained cream of something soup and mayonnaise among other things. It was good but I really wanted to eliminate as many processed foods as possible. When I found this recipe on Mel's Kitchen Cafe I was excited, it was just what I was looking for and it was delicious. A new casserole to add to dinner rotation and hubby loves the leftovers for lunch. I did add some cooked diced chicken to make it more of a main dish.
Cheesy Broccoli and Rice Casserole
2 slices bread, torn into pieces
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons butter, melted; plus two tablespoons chilled
1 garlic clove, minced
2 pounds broccoli (about 3-4 medium heads of broccoli), florets cut into 1-inch pieces, stems chopped (stems have to be my favorite part of broccoli)
1 onion, finely chopped
1 1/4 cups long grain white rice
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/4 cups half-and-half
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
cooked diced chicken
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 9X13-inch baking dish. Pulse bread, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese and melted butter in a food processor until coarsely ground. Add garlic. Set aside.
Microwave broccoli florets (save stems for later), covered, in a large bowl until bright green and tender, 2 to 3 minutes (no need to add water). Be careful not to overcook or they will become soggy and discolored. Melt remaining butter in a large pot over medium heat. Cook onion and broccoli stems until softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring constantly, until rice is translucent, about 1 minute. Stir in broth, half-and-half, and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring often, until rice is tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Off the heat, stir in cheddar cheese, cayenne, remaining Parmesan and broccoli florets.
Pour the mixture into prepared baking dish and top with bread crumb mixture. Bake until the sauce is bubbling around the edges and the top is golden brown, about 15 minutes. Cool 5 minutes. Serve.
This is a great casserole for busy school nights. Make the casserole early in the day put it in the oven on time bake as you rush out to soccer. It will be hot and ready when you walk in the door. Your famished children will thank you. Serve with cut up watermelon and cantaloupe. Serve Pumpkin Cookies with Browned Butter frosting for dessert. Recipe coming.