I’m an 90’s kid. I grew up in an era when Campbell’s Cream of Chicken was a pantry staple and casseroles were a plenty. There wasn’t a potluck within the decade that didn’t have a casserole dish full of some kind of concoction that included Jello, potato chips, or marshmallows (or all three!).
Casseroles, as strange as some of them were back then, still feel very grounding to me. They are so comforting, are usually nice and warm, and have this marriage of flavors that combine to taste just right.
One of my favorites is the classic broccoli cheddar casserole.
The version I remember seeing at potlucks was some kind of combo of Campbell’s cream of mushroom + a block of cheddar cheese + other combo of dairy products + a sprinkle of broccoli + pasta + bread crumbs (or, if I was lucky, crunched up Ritz cracker crumbs). It was so yummy but so not good for you.
This version tastes equally as delicious but is loaded up with real foods and the healthy, gut supporting brassica veggies- broccoli and Brussels sprouts.
These beautiful green veggies do so many good things for the body. They are known for their high antioxidant load, often being labeled as a superfood. Also high in nearly all the vitamins (A, C, E, & K), calcium, selenium, potassium, folic acid, and iron (super important for any vegans and vegetarians out there). Additionally, they are high in fiber, making them great for getting new bacteria into that gut microbiome, as well as helping our digestion run smoothly.
Along with an extra helping of some awesomely healthy brassicas, this dish replaces some of the old, processed ingredients with real food. Instead of the canned condensed soup goop, it uses a combo of unsweetened almond milk, organic butter, fresh mozzarella, and a hight quality cheddar. It calls for a minimal ingredient gluten free pasta (I’ve just recently discovered the brand Tolerant and love it. They make their noodles out of lentils- just lentils! It isn’t pictured in this recipe but definitely can be used.) and you can top it will gluten free bread crumbs, if they are important to you. Both of these items can be found at most grocery stores.
So… dust off that old canary yellow w/ white flower embellishments casserole dish and give this recipe a try!
8-10 Brussels sprouts, cut into quarters or bite-sized pieces
1 tablespoon avocado oil
Salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes + a sprinkle, optional
12 oz noodles of choice- *Gluten free options discussed below.
6 oz cheddar cheese, shredded
4 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tablespoon organic butter or avocado oil
Toasted gluten-free bread crumbs as topping, optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place broccoli and Brussels sprouts on a large baking pan. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon avocado oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, garlic salt, and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, if using. Toss them with your hands so they are evenly coated and lay them flat on the baking sheet. Place in the oven, roasting for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, flip the veggies, and continue to roast for 7 minutes.
While the veggies roast, add a medium/large pot of water to the stove over high heat. Bring it to a boil. Once boiling, add the pasta to the pot. Turn down to a simmer and cook 1 minute less than the package suggests so that they are just slightly undercooked. Turn off the stove. Strain the pasta and return it to the pot.
To the pasta, add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, sprinkle red pepper flakes, most of the cheddar (set aside about 3/4 cups for topping), mozzarella, almond milk, and butter. Stir well until incorporated and butter and cheese is melted. Add the broccoli and Brussels sprouts and stir.
Pour pasta mixture into a baking dish. Top with remaining cheddar cheese and bread crumbs, if using. Place in the oven and bake, uncovered, for about 25 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool for a few minutes, and serve!
*I like Tolerant or Simple Truth Organic Gluten Free Fusilli. But to be very transparent, these do taste different than refined white flour noodles. Full gluten noodles work if you are into it!
Gluten Free and Vegetarian
Meal Prepping Tip
If you want to make it ahead of time, follow through step 4. Then, dump everything into the baking dish, top with foil, and place in the fridge. When you are ready to eat it, just preheat the oven and toss it in for about 30 minutes.