Thursday, February 10, 2011

Broccoli Rice Casserole

This my first vegetarian-culture meal. I know that sounds weird because I've been a vegetarian for over 8 months. But I haven't really dabbled into using "weird", vegetarian ingredients like nutritional yeast. However, I don't turn away from an ingredient just because it's weird. It's only weird because I've never used it before. I was worried about tofu the first time. I was worried about kale. I was worried about Brie.  I'm glad I took the plunge each and every time, including this one. This casserole rocks. I'm a nutritional yeast convert. So, don't be scared...ingredients are only weird until you use them. :)

Broccoli Rice Casserole
from Vegetarian Times Complete Cookbook
serves 4

  • 1 medium potato, peeled and chopped coarsely
  • 1/2 medium carrot, peeled and sliced thickly
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped coarsely
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 lb. broccoli, frozen or fresh
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced white button mushrooms
  • 4 ounces firm tofu, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 Tb. fresh lemon juice
  • Pinch garlic powder
  • 1 cup uncooked rice
  • 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, if desired

Preheat the oven to 350°rees;F. Chop vegetables. Cook rice according to package directions. Ever since my rice cooker bit the dust, I've been trying to find easy ways to make rice. My stovetop rice always comes out gummy. I tried using the microwave directions and WOW! They worked. It was easy and I had fluffy rice. Amazing. The original recipe puts the raw rice in the casserole with some water but this didn't work. At all. So pre-cooked rice is a must.

In a small saucepan, bring the potato, carrot, onion, 1 cup water, and salt to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower the heat to medium, cover and simmer until the potato and carrot are tender, about 10 minutes.

If using fresh broccoli, steam until tender-crisp, about 5 minutes. I was using my homemade steamer method so I had to do the broccoli in two batches. Let cool. If using frozen broccoli, thaw under warm running water in a colander.

Cook the mushrooms in 1/4-1/2 cup water, stirring until soft; drain.

Pour the potato mixture (including liquid) into a blender and add the tofu, yeast, lemon juice, and garlic.

Blend until very smooth and creamy.

Pour the mixture into a shallow, prepared 1 1/2- or 2-qt casserole. Add the broccoli, rice, and mushrooms. Stir well and smooth the top of the mixture.

Top with the cheese, if desired. Bake until golden and bubbling, about 40 minutes.

Nutritional Information (1/4 casserole without cheese): 279 calories, 3g fat, 46g carbs, 7g fiber, 16g protein

Nutritional Information (1/4 casserole with cheese): 302 calories, 4.5g fat, 46g carbs, 7g fiber, 18g protein

The verdict? Wow. I was impressed. The yeast gave the dish such a cheesy flavor that it didn't even need the cheese on top. The sauce was comforting and creamy without being unhealthy. The tofu and the yeast provided the protein and the sauce was packed with veggies too. I can't rave enough about the nutrition of this meal. It's already on next week's menu plan and I won't be topping it with cheese.

Want to know why nutritional yeast is so nutritional? Nutritional yeast is an inactive yeast and is the only vegan source of complete protein, which means that it provides 18 amino acids. It provides B12 as well as about 15 other minerals. It has also been known to help regulate blood sugar and help with low blood pressure.

Where can you find nutritional yeast? I was able to buy just the amount I needed at Earthfare in the bulk bins for under a buck. Whole Foods and other natural/health food stores have the same bins. It's also available online and possibly in grocery stores that carry larger amounts of natural/organic products.

I see an expansive future with me and nutritional yeast. Remember the broccoli cheddar soup that was missing something? Ohhh yeah. :)


Carolyn said...

An absolute ton of my ingredients are "weird" because of the need to be low carb. An excellent point that once you use them, they are no longer weird!

Anonymous said...

What a delicious recipe - I used sweet potato instead and have a lovely "cheddary" orange to the casserole - the nutitional yeast "rocks". Thenk, Dey

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