Sunday, February 24, 2013

Cheesy Vegetable Casserole

Cheesy Vegetable Casserole.

Let's start with singing some retro 70's tune shall we? This dish is truly vintage but also very good. I have Abba's Dancing Queen going around my head but you can pick yours. I just checked at it was 1976 so it fits. . . 

So this is a recipe that my mother handed down to me years ago and I have updated with experience over time, staying true to the general principles:

1. Even if kids won't eat their vegetables they will most probably eat this. After all cheese smothering the broccoli and the peas make them taste delicious.
2. There is nothing better than white bread sometimes. Add some melted butter for a topping and you have true bliss.
3. Cream of Mushroom Soup can be a staple. Want it to be fancy? Use Campbell's rather than generic brands.

I should add that I grew up in a home where vegetables were NOT served at every meal (rarely) and my kids are not big veggie fans despite my repeated efforts. I personally love raw kale with dressing, baby carrots with houmous, and celery sticks in homemade blue cheese dressing. But there is a theme there. . . I really do like something with it so this is just a fancy version of that, all dressed up in a casserole dish.

  • 2 packages of frozen chopped broccoli (12 ounces each) Please note that chopped broccoli can be hard to find and often I substitute broccoli spears.
  • 1 package of frozen peas (12 ounces)
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 cans of cream of mushroom soup
  • 6 slices of American Cheese (Note to self: I could have updated this recipe further by using shredded cheese)
  • 6 slices of white bread - a little stale (exposed to air for a bit) is better.
  • 1/4 stick butter, melted

So I could lie to you and tell you that I cooked all the packages of vegetables separately and according to directions like my mother used to. Of course in her day it was on the stove top and it took a while. I dumped all the vegetables in a big white corning dish and added about 1/2 cup of water and cooked in the microwave, checking every 4 minutes or so until they looked reasonably "done". It took about 12 minutes. I added salt and stirred, then drained off the water.

Ripped the cheese to melt quicker. . . Note to self: Shredded Packaged Cheese!
While the vegetables are cooking, heat the two cans of soup on low on the stove and add the American cheese. I rip them into pieces so they melt more evenly. Stir until smooth.

Stir until smooth

Mix the soup mixture into the vegetables, using the cooking dish you had for the microwave. It's still a little warm which works in your favor to get the soup mixture evenly spread. Dump this new combination into a greased Pyrex dish.

Rip the sliced bread into tufts and place on top of the casserole dish. Drizzle with some melted butter. Quick tip: Melt the butter in a Pyrex measuring cup in the microwave and then sprinkle from there for less mess!

Bake at 350 until heated through, taking care to get the bread golden but not burned. I don't use my top over because it seems to burn. . . a lower rack in a larger over is better.

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