Friday, March 8, 2013

Foodie Fridays: Broccoli Rice Casserole

The other day I was reading a post on a newly discovered blog called "the south in my mouth" about broccoli rice casserole.  It suddenly occurred to me that not only have I never made this southern potluck staple, I have never even tasted it!  I find this astonishing, since we have lived in Georgia for almost ten years now, and have attended a fair number of potluck dinners.  Maybe this casserole has fallen out of favor among the people with whom we tend to mingle, but I can't ever recall seeing this dish.  It is certainly available in processed form at the grocery stores, and I have checked it out there, but the ingredients lists are rather daunting and they all contain hydrogenated fats, so I have never actually bought any.

Somehow, though, the planets aligned just right the day I read the blog, and I realized I had all the ingredients I needed to make this casserole.  Granted, not all of them are the healthiest of foods -- canned soup, processed cheese in a jar, and rather a lot of butter.  But the broccoli I had was fresh (in my favorite microwaveable bag form, of course), the canned soup was the healthier version, and I decided I could reduce the amount of butter to ease my conscience a bit.  The recipe called for Cheez Whiz, but I used Tostito's Smooth and Cheesy Dip because that is what I had.  And, heaven help me, I topped the casserole with French's French Fried Onions.  In my defense, I did not buy these.  My husband bought the can and only used a small amount -- that can has been sitting in the pantry now for months and it really does need to be used up.

Like I said, this is not the healthiest of casseroles, but it is a southern classic, and I figured I had to taste it at least once in my lifetime since I now live in the South.  Was it tasty?  Definitely!  Would I make it again?  For a potluck meal, yes!  Although I will probably reduce the butter even more next time, to just two tablespoons, as it seemed a tad oily to me.  I think more rice could be added as well to extend the casserole, since there was plenty of sauce, so next time I will increase the rice to two or even three cups.  I hope I am not messing with a time-honored recipe here, but if so I apologize to native Southerners everywhere!

Broccoli Rice Casserole

1 medium onion, chopped
1/4 C. butter
12 oz. bag of broccoli florets, cooked
1 1/2 C. cooked rice (I used white, but brown would also work)
1 can (10.75 oz.) condensed cream of mushroom soup
8 oz. processed cheese spread or dip
2/3 C. French's French Fried Onions (optional)

Sauté the onion in the butter until translucent, then remove from the heat and stir in the broccoli.  In a large bowl, combine the soup, rice, and cheese dip.  Stir in the vegetables.  Spoon the mixture evenly into a greased 9x13-inch pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Or, if using the onions, bake for 25 minutes, top the casserole with the onions, and bake 5 minutes more.  Serves 8.

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