BROCCOLI CHEDDAR BOWLS

Every time I hit up the supermarket, I try to stock up on a few frozen meals, since you never know when you might need some food in a hurry. One of them that I usually like to grab is the broccoli cheddar bake bowl from Amy’s. It’s filling, heats up quick, and tastes pretty good for a frozen meal (I promise I’m not being paid by Amy’s to say this stuff).

Last week, I was sitting around watching the new Daredevil series on Netflix (which is awesome, by the way) when the thought hit me: for as many times I’ve gotten the broccoli cheddar frozen meal, I’ve never tried to cook the dish from scratch. I then got to brainstorming, so here’s my take on the dish.

Broccoli Cheddar Bowls
Makes 4 – 6 servings

~ 1 broccoli head
~ 4 cloves garlic
~ Olive oil
~ 1/2 jar (4 oz.) sun-dried tomatoes (optional)
~ 1 box (1 lb.) fusilli pasta
~ 1/4 cup butter
~ 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
~ 1/2 tsp dried basil
~ 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
~ 3 cups milk
~ 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
~ 1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
~ 1 tsp salt
~ 1/2 tsp black pepper
~ 1/2 tsp garlic powder
~ 2-1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
~ 1 tsp Dijon mustard

Prep Work:

  • Break down your broccoli head into the crowns and the stems. Cut all the pieces down into bite-sized chunks.
  • Peel your garlic cloves and mince them up. Set those aside when finished.
  • Measure out all the spices that you’ll need for making the cheese sauce ahead of time so that you won’t need to scramble once things are on the stovetop.

Stovetop:

  • Fill a pot with water and add some salt, setting it aside for later in the cooking process.
  • Start by knocking out the cheese sauce. The way I made it for this dish was identical to when I make it for my baked mac and cheese. You can find the directions for that here. I used some New York extra sharp cheddar that I bought from the farmer’s market to give the sauce a little more edge.
  • After the cheese sauce is finished, take a medium skillet, drizzle in some olive oil, and then heat on medium-high. Once the oil is at temperature, add in your garlic and stir around for no more than 30 seconds.
  • After the garlic has browned a bit, add in your broccoli crowns and stems, season with salt and pepper, and sauté for about 2 minutes.
  • In order to soften up the broccoli faster, take a 1/2 cup of water and pour it into the skillet, covering it immediately after to keep the steam trapped inside. At this point, fire up the burner for boiling the water for the pasta.
  • Steam the broccoli for 30 seconds to 1 minute before lifting the lid and letting the excess water cook off. Continue to saute the broccoli until soft enough to your liking.
  • Once the broccoli is finished cooking, add that straight into the cheese sauce and combine.
  • Cook your fusilli according to the directions on the box. Once that’s finished, strain the pasta and set it aside. You’re now ready to put all the pieces together.

Plating:

  • Scoop some pasta into a bowl and generously cover that with some broccoli cheese sauce. Mix that up, and if you feel like it’s not cheesy enough, throw some more sauce on there.
  • Garnish with some sun-dried tomatoes and parsley and you’re ready to dive into some deliciousness.

I really liked how well the broccoli turned out: softened up, but just enough crunch when you bit through it. The sun-dried tomatoes were a nice addition and gave the dish a little bit of a sweet flavor that contrasted with the ground black pepper flavor from the cheese sauce.

Another pro to this dish is that you can adapt it to different types of pasta as well: bowtie, penne, macaroni, or even wagon wheels if you so choose! With its flexibility, this dish is easy to make and the leftovers taste just as good as when the dish came out fresh!

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