Monday, November 15, 2010

Broccoli Au Gratin

Considering that I grew up to be an insatiably rapacious herbivore, it's funny to look back on my childhood, when I was one of the most tediously picky eaters ever visited upon parents who loved to cook. One of the few ways I'd consent to consume vegetables at all was fried, and/or covered in some sort of sauce that disguised their essential veggieness. Nowadays I'll happily eat pretty much any member of the fruit or vegetable kingdom (turnips and lima beans remain notable exceptions), but sometimes it's nice to revisit those podgy preparations of yesteryear. Casseroles loom especially large in my memory, and this is my take on the baked broccoli in cheese sauce that my mom used to make; my sister still makes a version of it most holidays, but of course her rendition uses copious amounts of cheese, butter, and moo juice, whereas mine is not only considerate of our bovine friends, but (relatively) healthy as well. Best of all, it's delicious: the last time I made this, the leftovers were gone by lunchtime the next day, so if you make a batch (and I can't believe I'm actually typing this) you might want to double it. As the image reminds us, life - and vegetables! - can be wonderful; I mean, look at the joy on that guy's face. You just know that serving dish is full of vegan broccoli au gratin!

Broccoli Au Gratin

~ 2-3 tbsp. Earth Balance (or other vegan margarine)
~ 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
~ 3 tbsp. flour
~ 1 tsp. each: salt, dry mustard, paprika (plus extra for garnish)
~ 3 cups plain, unsweetened soy milk, heated
~ 1 tbsp. HP or vegan Worcestershire sauce
~ 2 tbsp. nutritional yeast (more if you like, but we're going for "cheesy," not "noochy!")
~ Freshly ground black pepper
~ Good pinch of grated nutmeg
~ 2 heads broccoli, tops cut into small florets, and stalks into 1/2" pieces
~ 1 cup grated cheddar Sheese (or other vegan cheese)
~ 1/3 cup panko or fresh bread crumbs

~ Preheat to 400 degrees fahrenheit, and coat a baking dish with cooking spray.
~ In a saucepan, melt the margarine, and saute the onion over medium heat, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently so it doesn't brown.
~ Whisk in the flour, salt, paprika, and dry mustard; cook, stirring, for about a minute to make a roux.
~ Gradually add the heated soy milk, HP sauce, nutritional yeast, and nutmeg and bring to a boil, whisking constantly.
~ Stir in the grated Sheese and mix thoroughly to avoid any clumps.
~ Lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened, about 5-10 minutes.
~ Season with black pepper and remove from the heat.
~ Place your vegetable steamer in a large pot, and bring about an inch of water to a boil over high heat.
~ Put the broccoli in the steamer, sprinkle it with salt, then cover the pot and steam until just bright green.
~ Transfer the broccoli to your prepared baking dish, and pour the sauce on top, making sure all the broccoli is coated.
~ Sprinkle the panko or bread crumbs over the whole business, dust with paprika, and bake uncovered until lightly browned and bubbly, about 20 minutes.
~ Allow to rest about 10 minutes before serving.


  1. YES! A childhood favorite! Sometimes my mom would make the cheese sauce and stuff crepes with steamed broccoli and sauce. so good!

    I wrote about cheeze last night: