Southern Broccoli Rice Casserole

I put a poll on my Instagram stories a couple of weeks ago asking my followers what kind of recipes they were looking for right now. The options were main dish, dessert, side dish, and appetizer. Side dish was the unanimous winner! That is one thing I’m always looking to change up too so I was happy that I got to make this Southern Broccoli Rice Casserole that reminds me so much of Texas.

Growing up in East Texas, this is one of those dishes that you’d find at every potluck and on every holiday table. Year round! Us Texans really like to put cheese on just about every savory food you can think of and broccoli is no exception. The broccoli rice I grew up with was full of processed cheese and sometimes canned cream soup. It was good but I definitely wanted to freshen things up with my version.

The homemade creamy cheese sauce is perfection! It’s very easy to make and isn’t that much harder than opening a can of cream soup. You mix fresh broccoli florets and cooked rice into the cheese sauce then top with a crunchy breadcrumb mixture. My kids who usually choke down broccoli absolutely loved this! My daughter said this is the only way she will eat broccoli from now on. Ha!

My Southern Broccoli Rice Casserole is such a great holiday side dish because it will go with any main dish like ham, prime rib, or turkey. Serve with chicken any time of the year for a complete meal too. I hope you enjoy another little piece of my Texas heart with this easy, delicious side dish!

Sponsored post for Lee’s Marketplace. Items on sale Dec 17-26: rice, butter, flour, sharp cheddar, white cheddar

Southern Broccoli Rice Casserole

  • Servings: Serves 6-8
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients

6 cups fresh broccoli florets, cut small
2 cups cooked rice
¼ cup butter
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 cups half-and-half
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded and divided
1 cup gruyere or white cheddar cheese, shredded and divided
2/3 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons butter, melted
½ cup panko breadcrumbs
1/3 cup parmesan, shredded

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare an 11×7 (or similar sized) baking pan by spraying with cooking spray.

Make topping by combining 2 tablespoons melted butter, panko and parmesan in a small bowl. Set aside.

In a large sauce pan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the half-and-half and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil for about 2 minutes or until thickened. Add garlic, salt, and pepper. Add ¾ cup of cheddar and ¾ cup of gruyere then stir until melted. Remove from heat. Add broccoli and cooked rice to the cheese sauce and stir until combined.

Transfer to baking pan and sprinkle remaining cheddar and gruyere cheese to the top. Pour chicken broth over the top. Cover tightly with non-stick aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove foil and sprinkle breadcrumb topping evenly over the casserole. Place back into the oven and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until brown.

Notes:
1. Make sure broccoli is cut into small bite-sized pieces so that it cooks through.
2. If needed, turn on broiler after 10 minutes to get topping browner.

Butternut Squash & Bacon Mac ‘N’ Cheese

I was just thinking about this mac ‘n’ cheese that I created last year and realized that it wasn’t on my blog yet. Yikes! I developed the recipe last year for a Good Things Utah segment and it is one of my favorite segments to date. Watch me make it here!

Getting ready on the set of ABC4’s Good Things Utah!

So many of my friends have made this and loved it. You could definitely say its “grown-up” or “fancy” mac ‘n’ cheese. It requires a bit of effort but is sooooo worth it! The combo of roasted butternut squash, crispy bacon, creamy gruyere, and fresh rosemary is perfection! This is amazing alongside roasted chicken or pork and is the perfect side dish to take to Thanksgiving or Christmas dinners. You will definitely impress your family and guests with this elevated take on classic mac ‘n’ cheese! If you make it (or any of my recipes) please comment on my blog and share my recipes on social media. It will help me grow!

Butternut Squash & Bacon Mac ‘N’ Cheese

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients

1 butternut squash – peeled, de-seeded, and cubed (about 6 cups)
1 tablespoons olive oil
8 slices bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 cup shallots, finely diced
1 stick (8 TB) butter, divided
4 tablespoons flour
3 cups milk (1%, 2%, or whole)
2 cups grated gruyere cheese, divided
2 cups grated sharp cheddar, divided
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
16 oz cavatappi pasta
2/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/3 cup grated parmesan
Kosher salt
Black pepper, freshly ground

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Prepare a 9×13 baking dish with butter or cooking spray. Heat a large pot of water over high heat for the pasta.
2. Place cubed squash on a sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place in oven to roast for 20 minutes or until pieces are fork tender. Using the back of a wooden spoon, mash half of the pieces (doesn’t have to be completely smooth). Leave on tray and set aside.
3. When water boils for pasta, add 2 tablespoons of kosher salt to the water then cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
4. In a large skillet, cook bacon until crisp. Remove bacon and place on a towel-lined plate to drain. Drain all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease from the skillet.
5. Turn the heat for the skillet to medium then add diced shallots. Cook until translucent.
6. Add 4 tablespoons of butter to the shallots. Once melted, whisk in 4 tablespoons of flour. Cook for about 1 minute or until the flour starts to brown. Whisk in milk with a slow, steady stream and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
7. Once the sauce thickens (coats the back of a spoon), add 1 ½ cups of gruyere and 1 ½ cups of cheddar. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and about ½ teaspoon of pepper. Stir until cheese is melted then turn off the heat.
8. Add rosemary, bacon, butternut squash and drained pasta to the cheese sauce. Stir to combine. Pour mixture into the prepared baking dish.
9. Melt remaining 4 tablespoons of butter in a bowl. Add panko and parmesan and stir to combine.
10. Add remaining gruyere and cheddar to the pasta then sprinkle the panko mixture on top.
11. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until topping starts to brown.
The GTU crew devoured my mac ‘n’ cheese after the show wrapped! Love these people!