It was just a couple of days before Thanksgiving when I had an "a-ha!" moment. What if you made green bean casserole but swapped out the green beans for broccoli and used healthier ingredients? It sounded like a good idea so I put it to the test. Make your own parmesan cheese sauce, toss it with broccoli, and top it with a crunchy onion topping. I may be late for Thanksgiving, but this cheesy broccoli casserole would be a great side for any weeknight meal!
Cheesy Broccoli Casserole
- 2 lb trimmed broccoli
- 2 tablespoons oil divided
- 6 shallots thinly sliced
- ½ cup panko
- ¼ cup toasted sliced almonds
- ¼ cup grated parmesan
- ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 ¼ cups vegetable broth
- 1 ¼ cups milk
- ¾ cup grated parmesan
- pinch of nutmeg
- salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Bring pot of water to a boil over high heat. Blanch broccoli for 2 minutes and immediately drain and plunge in ice water. Broccoli should be bright green and tender-crisp. When broccoli has cooled, drain well. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
- Make onion topping. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Saute sliced shallots until partially cooked, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl.
- In the same pan, heat another tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add panko and toast until golden brown, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and transfer to same bowl with shallots. Add almonds, grated parmesan, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper, tossing to combine. Set aside.
- Melt butter in a large sauce pot over medium heat. Add garlic and saute until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Add flour, whisking until well combined with butter. Slowly add vegetable broth, whisking constantly to dissolve flour butter mixture. Add milk and bring to a simmer. Add parmesan and pinch of nutmeg and continue to simmer until thickened, about 4-5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat.
- Pour parmesan sauce over broccoli, tossing to coat. Transfer to a 9x13 baking dish and spread broccoli in an even layer. Top with shallot breadcrumb topping and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and crispy on top. Serve.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
What's great about this cheesy broccoli casserole is that it's similar to green bean casserole so it's very familiar. What's even better is that it's slightly healthier so you won't feel guilty getting second and third servings.
First things first, prepare the broccoli. Cut the broccoli into small florets and blanch them in hot water for just a couple of minutes. Drain the hot water and immediately shock the vegetables in ice-cold water. This will stop the broccoli from continuing to cook and keep that bright green color.
You want to make sure to drain the broccoli well. If too much of the water gets into the dish, it'll water down the casserole and make it taste bland.
Meanwhile, prepare the onion topping. Storebought crispy onions are fine but to keep things homemade, we're going to make our own.
Saute thinly sliced shallots just until tender, about 2-3 minutes. Remove the shallots and toast panko breadcrumbs in the same pan. Toss the toasted panko with the shallots, parmesan, almonds, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.
Set aside the onion topping and next make the parmesan cream sauce. This sauce is basically alfredo pasta sauce with flour as the thickener, milk as the base, and cheese to finish.
Season the sauce generously with salt and pepper. The sauce is the main seasoning for the broccoli so you want to make sure it has plenty of salt and pepper.
Toss the broccoli in the cream sauce and transfer everything to a large baking dish. Sprinkle the onion topping in an even layer on top and bake the cheesy broccoli casserole for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
If you find that the topping isn't as crunchy as you would like it, you can turn on the broiler for a few minutes.
Serve the cheesy broccoli casserole while it's hot and while the topping is at its crunchiest!
I loved that this side dish was different but still very much familiar. All the flavors are reminiscent of green bean casserole but just with a slight twist. A great side for the entire family!
For more casserole recipe inspiration check out this savory pear gratin with prosciutto gruyere breadcrumbs!