Paleo Cheesy Broccoli Casserole
One of my greatest joys as a recipe developer is turning an old not so good for you classic into a new possibly the healthiest thing on the table and now a family favorite staple. Instead of feeling sorry for myself when I start to jones over childhood food favorites, I tell myself, “well, I can’t be the ONLY one who loves/misses these foods;” and then I roll up my sleeves and get to work on creating a healthier, Paleo-friendly option. MOST of these holiday-centered recipes (like my updated green bean casserole, pumpkin pie with legit Grandma would be proud pie crust, roast beef with creamy horseradish sauce, etc.) can be found in my most succinct Holiday Feast eBook, but I’ve decided to share a few of my favorites right here on the blog, too.
Cheesy broccoli casserole and I go way back. We go back to the days when I did NOT like vegetables. Allow me to introduce you to 5 year old Cassy. She was often referred to as “Cassandra Joy” because she was often in trouble. She liked potatoes, hated tomatoes, enjoyed re-fried beans (I’m a Garcia, after all), adored creamy pasta, and would only eat green things if they were covered in cheese. I’d (unintentionally) make my parents so proud at holiday gatherings when I’d ask to have 2nd servings of that wonderful cheesy, rice-y, crunchy, “there’s broccoli in there?” casserole.
Broccoli casserole and any cookie made with Crisco were the holiday foodie highlights of my youth.
Fast forward to my now more nutritionally aware, tomato-loving adult self. The original cheesy broccoli casserole is *sometimes* worth a bite, but I usually stop at a bite. I realize that the appeal is more in the memory than in the actual food. SO, I got to work creating a dish that tipped its hat at the memory AND tasted great AND would do great things for my body.
I believe this is the first recipe published here on my blog where I’m introducing nutritional yeast. I discovered nutritional yeast back in my brief days as a vegan. It’s a delicious, flaky, cheesy food supplement that I relied on heavily when I was overcoming my cravings for cheese. Don’t be turned off by the name – it’s delicious and not as weird as it sounds. You can usually find it in the health food section of your grocery store (HEB for you Texans and Whole Foods is a sure bet for everyone else) or you can easily order it online.
The nutritional yeast combined with the coconut milk, “riced” cauliflower, and broccoli florets makes for an entirely satisfying casserole base. Instead of the crushed crackers for a crust, I use crushed pork rinds mixed with extra nutritional yeast!
I hope you love this casserole and that it brings back wonderful memories.
Cheesy Broccoli Casserole
Yield: 10-12 servings
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
- 30-32 ounces (7 cups packed) frozen or fresh broccoli florets
- 1 head cauliflower
- 1 tablespoon grass-fed butter, ghee, or EVCO (for #2: stove-top rice method)
- 1 ½ cups (13.6 ounces) full-fat canned coconut milk
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- ½ cup and 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast, divided
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 cups pork rinds, crushed
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- Steam the broccoli florets until they're fork-tender. Drain and set aside.
- Cut the florets from the head of the cauliflower. Either using the grating attachment on your food processor or by simply adding them to the food processor bowl, break them up into rice-sized pieces. To cook the "rice," you have two options:
- Transfer the “rice” to a microwave-safe bowl with a few tablespoons water. Cover and cook for 7 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- Melt the butter in a large frying pan and then add the "rice." Stir well, cover, and let it steam for 5 minutes over medium heat. Remove the lid and continue to stir and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes, or until the rice is cooked.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the coconut milk, beaten eggs, ½ cup nutritional yeast, sea salt, and pepper. Add the cooked broccoli and cauliflower rice. Stir to incorporate.
- Pour the mixture into a large (9x13”) casserole dish. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 for 20 minutes.
- In a small bowl, mix the 2 cups crushed pork rinds with the remaining 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast.
- Remove the casserole from the oven and sprinkle the top with the nutritional yeast and pork rind breading. Return to the oven at 350 for an additional 15 minutes.
- Let cool for 5-10 minutes and then serve warm.