Thursday, April 21, 2011

Not the Same Old Broccoli and Rice

   This dish came out of my needing to use up vegetables (about a year ago).  We made it to that point of the week where we didn't actually have two servings of any given item.  My solution to that problem was mix it all up with rice and cheese.  Clever.  I know.  It was good.  Really, how do you mess up veggies, rice, and cheese?  It was nothing impressive to me and I made a mental note to use it as a last resort, veggie roundup dish.  Something in it resonated with my husband though.  Since then he has asked for it several times, but I generally find a way to get out of making it.  Why?  No clue;  I can't always explain my own actions.  This week, I gave in due to some strange attempt to throw him of my trail less he realize my sneaky tactics.  (Yeah, sometimes, I am an idiot.)

   While making the bechamel, I had a revelation.  I control the creativity.  Alteration of classic recipes is the number one way to spice up the average weeknight meal.  Remember I mentioned I can't explain my own actions on occasion?  I had only made this broccoli and rice in a very traditional manner before.  WHY?!  That explained my reluctance to make it.  It wasn't original or creative, and I didn't find it particularly tasty.  In the swirl of ideas racing around my head, I began grabbing things from my spice basket and refrigerator, all the while keeping in mind flavors that are kid friendly.  After all, this is just a ploy to get kids to eat their vegetables, right?  Many of my recipes would not be appealing to the vast majority of children.  I felt it was time to give another dish that is appealing to kids but sophisticated enough that adults enjoy it to.
Broccoli and Rice... amped
1/2 onion, sliced or chopped
1/2 red bell pepper sliced or chopped
2 Tbsp butter
1.5 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp flour
~3/4 C chicken stock
~3/4 C buttermilk
2 Tbsp deli style mustard
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp cayenne (optional, but it doesn't add heat, just flavor)
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 C shredded sharp chedder
1/4 C shredded parmesan
2 stalks/head of broccoli, broken down into small florets
salt and pepper
1 C parboiled rice
1 C water
3/4 C low sodium chicken broth/stock

   For rice, bring broth and water to a boil.  Add rice.  Return to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat to low.  Cook for 15-17 minutes.  Fluff with fork so it isn't gummy.
   Heat 1/2 Tbsp evoo over medium heat.  Saute onion and pepper for 3-4 minutes, until onions are translucent.  Add the rest of the oil and butter.  Allow butter to melt.  Whisk in flour so there are no lumps.  cook about 2 min.  Slowly add buttermilk and chicken broth, whisking constantly.  Add mustard and spices.  continue whisking.  The mixture will thicken on its own.  If it begins to get too thick, add a litttle more stock or milk.  Slowly melt in 1/2 C of cheddar.  Salt and pepper to taste.
   Remove from heat and allow to cool for a couple minutes.  Then fold in broccoli and another half  C of the cheddar.  Add a pinch more salt (for the broccoli).  Fold in rice.  Place in a lightly greased baking pan (4x8 or 6x6....)  Top with remaining cheddar and parmesan.  (Up to this point, it may be made ahead.)
   Bake at 375 deg F for 20-25 minutes, until heated through and cheese is lightly browned.
   Serves 4 (adult portions)
If I had a top heating element in my oven this would be brown and pretty.
Served with some easy breaded chicken for the perfect kid friendly meal!

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