I am sure you have noticed I have a plethora of vegetable dishes that I like to make. I tend to eat a lot more veggies than meat, although, at this time, I am not a vegetarian. But I think good vegetable recipes can be a great side dish and even the star of our dinners. This Broccoli recipe was one I came up with many years ago, back when I was first cooking. Some of my more sophisticated family members were coming to dinner one night and I wanted to have a special side dish.
There was a recipe for grilled tomatoes that I loved, but it was not tomato season. Broccoli was available and inexpensive so I tried to top the broccoli with the same mixture I put on my tomatoes in the summer. I added some curry powder to give it more flavor and a new family favorite was born. My son has been eating this broccoli with cheese since he was a wee one (he is now 6’3”!) and he still loves it. He requested I make it again at our last get together and his lovely girlfriend, a vegetarian, loved it, too!
I have to tell you, when I first tried this cheese topping on the tomatoes, I was skeptical. It has a secret ingredient –mayonnaise! When I was younger, I really disliked mayonnaise. I am afraid I grew up having my school lunch sack filled with bologna on white bread slathered in mayonnaise—ugh, I actually feel sick just remembering that! Needless to say, I did everything I could to keep from eating lunch and as soon as I was allowed I made my own lunch sack-my signature of fruit, cheese, nuts, raw veggies and cookies.
Okay, my early bad experiences aside, mayonnaise can be great. I now enjoy it lightly spread on a BLT sandwich or in a salad. But what it does in this dish is exceptional! It really makes the cheese creamier and is much better than cheese alone. Even if you are a mayo-hater like I was, you should try this. I hid this secret ingredient for years thinking people would not eat it, but I have found that mayonnaise is not as despised as I thought it was J
This dish is easy to make and can be done partially ahead of time. Just remember to KEEP CLOSE WATCH WHILE IT IS IN THE BROILER!! The toasting of the cheese is a fine art- it should be bubbly and browned but not burnt and the line between the two is very close- just a few seconds can turn this from perfect to burnt! Have someone remind you to keep checking.
One other note, I really don’t measure for this recipe. I buy however much broccoli I think we need and mix up the topping so I have enough to cover. We like the topping to completely cover but you could just dot it on for less calories.
I really love this dish and it is still a favorite request of family and friends!
Broccoli topped with Toasted Cheese
Recipe by Denise Birdsall
About 4 cups Broccoli, cut into bite- sized pieces, about 1” (I don’t measure it, just adjust topping to amount of broccoli)
½ cup light mayonnaise, may use up to 2/3 (Kraft reduced fat w/ olive oil works well)
1- 1 ½ tsp. curry powder, may substitute Italian herbs or more cumin for curry
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes and/or dash of cumin
½ tsp. onion powder
½ tsp. Garlic salt or garlic herb seasoning and/ or one clove garlic
Dash of salt and pepper to taste
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, may use more
1/3 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
More cheese to sprinkle on top, optional
Steam broccoli until just tender-crisp. If you don’t have a steamer, you may boil it in a little water or cook anyway you prefer. You may also cook frozen broccoli to be used, though the texture is sometimes mushy. You could sauté the broccoli in a little olive oil instead- that would be tasty! Just don’t overcook, leave it slightly undercooked as it may cook a bit more in the oven.
Drain well. Layer into an 8 by 8 baking dish or something of comparable size.
In a medium bowl, mix mayonnaise and seasonings. Add cheese and mix well. You may wish to vary the amount of cheese or mayonnaise as desired for spreading consistency and personal taste. I never measure for this recipe.
Dot and spread mixture over broccoli. I like to cover broccoli. If the topping is not enough for you, you may add extra cheese.
At this point, you could refrigerate or set this on the counter for a bit until you are ready to sit down to eat. Don’t finish this in the broiler until just before serving.
Turn broiler on low and broil until very bubbly and beginning to brown to a golden-brown speckle. You may turn broiler on High for the last 30-60 seconds.
Watch constantly so it does not burn but, does get thoroughly melted, bubbly and browned in spots.
Okay, I have to post a few photos of the puppy. We named her Sophie.