Cheesy Cruciferous Casserole
Cruciferous vegetables are my favorite anti-cancer vegetables. There’s a lot of clear clinical research on the health benefits of broccoli, brussels sprouts, and their relatives. However, because they can be somewhat bitter when cooked, cruciferous vegetables are ones I find my patients most reluctant to try. One way to begin enjoying a food you’re less enthusiastic about is to combine it with one you enjoy. I love cheese, so this casserole is a real winner for me and many of my patients.
- 3 tablespoons + 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose or whole wheat flour
- 1 ½ cups milk (may use non-dairy milk)
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- Pinch grated nutmeg
- Black pepper to taste
- 1 pound broccoli, in small florets and 1 inch stalk pieces
- 1 pound cauliflower, in small florets and 1 inch stalk pieces
- ½ cup + ½ cup sharp cheddar, grated
- ½ cup fresh bread crumbs
- Move rack to middle rung of oven. Pre-heat to 450 degrees. Prepare a deep 8×8 baking dish with butter, olive oil, or parchment paper.
- Prepare a roux: over medium heat, melt 3 tablespoons butter in a saucepan, then slowly whisk in the flour until completely smooth. Continue whisking and cooking for additional minute, until a light gold.
- Add milk, salt, and nutmeg. Whisking constantly, bring to a boil then lower the heat to a simmer. Stir occasionally until thickened, approximately ten minutes. Add black pepper and remove from heat.
- In a separate dish, microwave about half of the broccoli by adding 1 tablespoon water, covering, and microwaving for 2-3 minutes. Broccoli should still be crisp tender. Repeat with remaining broccoli and cauliflower. Each completed batch should be placed into the prepared baking dish.
- Once all of the vegetables are in the baking dish, toss with ½ cup cheese and all of the white sauce. Cover with remaining cheese.
- Melt the remaining butter in a skillet on medium-high heat. Toast the bread crumbs in the butter, lightly stirring for about two minutes. Top the casserole with the toasted breadcrumbs.
- Bake casserole twenty minutes, until bubbly and hot all the way through. Serve immediately.