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.
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!