I guess you could say it’s obvious why I always seem to feel obligated to bring vegetables to the Thanksgiving dinner table. I mean, I’m a dietitian, I guess that’s what I do…..eat vegetables, and feed people vegetables. Although I will tell you right now I took the saying “everything in moderation” to a new level this year on Thanksgiving. I rarely eat decadent desserts, but this year I had two and a half plates full of desserts. No lie. It was actually kind of gross how much dessert I ate, yet I loved every moment of it and don’t feel at all guilty (and I’ll do it again!). See, I only do that every once in a while….so….”everything in moderation” (including binging on desserts, in moderation, as in once or twice a year).
When you have this many desserts to choose from (including coconut cream pie, 3 different and unique versions of pecan pie, and two different types of pumpkin pie, oh…and cookies!) it’s hard to have just one. So yes, I had a bit of each, topped with homemade whipped cream. Worth the 500-700 calories.
But anyway, back to what I brought to the table, vegetables. I loaded up on vegetables so I wouldn’t feel so bad pounding the pie. This cruciferous casserole, which is what I called it, was the perfect mix of health and splurge. With white cheddar and greyer cheeses, delicious spices and cheesy crackers, there was no chance the broccoli and cauliflower could taste bad. And, it didn’t.
- 14 cups bite-size florets or broccoli and cauliflower **
- 2 cups 1% milk **
- 1½ tsp. Dijon mustard
- ½ tsp. garlic powder **
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 Tbsp. cornstarch
- 2 Tbsp. water
- 1 cup shredded extra-sharp white cheddar cheese
- 1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese **
- ¼ cup snipped fresh chives
- 1 cup crushed cheese-flavored crackers **
- 2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
- Fill a large saucepan with enough water to steam 14 cups of veggies (~3 inches) and add a steam basket to the large saucepan. Bring the water to a boil then add florets and steam for about 5 minutes (alternatively you could boil the florets in water for about 1 minute, then rinse under cold water to stop the cooking). Spread the steamed broccoli and cauliflower on a baking sheet and pat with a clean towel to soak up excess water.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat 9-by-13-inch (or similar-size shallow oven proof dish) with cooking spray.
- Combine milk, mustard, garlic powder and salt in a large pot. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Combine cornstarch and water in a small bowl; whisk into the simmering milk. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, whisking. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer and cook, whisking, for 2 minutes. Add both cheeses, and chives; whisk until smooth. Remove from heat.
- Add florets to the pot and gently stir to coat evenly with the cheese sauce. Transfer to the prepared baking dish. Combine the crackers and oil in a small bowl and sprinkle over the vegetables.
- Bake until the cheese sauce is bubbling and the florets are starting to brown on top, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve warm.
Nutrition Highlights: Good source of fiber and iron, excellent source of calcium, vitamin C and vitamin A.
The casserole looked so pretty right before going into the oven. After 10 minutes the kitchen started smelling like
cruciferous sulferous veggies cheesy heaven.
The whole time this was baking in the oven I was thinking about the meal we were about to enjoy. My favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal is the turkey. Turkey, and stuffing. So, I was planning my plate; turkey for protein, stuffing for grain, this delicious casserole for my vegetable, and of course my pomegranate glazed carrots (recipe coming tomorrow). Of course when we got to my parent’s house I realized I wasn’t the only brilliant one who considered bringing a vegetable to the table. We also had sweet potatoes, and brussel sprouts with pancetta.
Everyone said they really enjoyed the casserole, so I think it was a winner. I was sure to take a couple Beano before diving into this (well, really before diving into the entire meal). With the amount of cancer we have in our family I was happy to see so many cruciferous veggies for our meal. Broccoli, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts are some of the healthier veggies known to man, also known as “Cruciferous veggies” because they resemble a cross when harvested. They are natural detoxifiers (want to detox? Eat those veggies, also including cabbage and kale) and may even reduce colon cancer risk.
What’s your favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal? I wish I could say this was my favorite, but like I said before, it’s always the turkey. This year we had a smoked turkey and it was, in a word, fabulous. This casserole was great though, so keep it in mind for your next holiday or other social gathering. Tomorrow I’ll be posting the other side dish I brought; pomegranate glazed carrots with pistachios.