I don't remember when or where I first discovered broccoli rice casserole. My mother never made it so I probably tried it at a church potluck or a friend's house. My mother-in-law used to make it and gave me a copy of her recipe. I tried making it like she did with Cheez Whiz, but my husband thought it was too cheesy. The next time I used her recipe, I substituted grated Cheddar cheese, but it still wasn't as good as the casserole I fondly remembered from my youth. I tried several other recipes unsuccessfully and resigned myself to the fact that I'd probably only enjoy this casserole when I could find it on the menu at a restaurant.
A couple of years ago, an acquaintance shared her broccoli rice casserole recipe with me. It was similar in some ways to the recipes I'd tried in the past, but at the same time different enough that it piqued my interest.
The recipe starts like most broccoli rice casseroles by sauteing chopped onion in margarine. However, the broccoli, instead of being cooked separately in a pot of water, is sauteed with the onion. I think the texture and flavor of the broccoli is better when it's sauteed rather than boiled.
Evaporated milk and soup are stirred into the sauteed mixture. Instead of the traditional cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup, this recipe uses a can of broccoli cheese soup. This adds additional broccoli -- even if it is tiny -- and, more importantly, cheese. However, it's not the only source of cheese in the recipe. The casserole gets it cheesiness not from Velveeta, Cheez Whiz or grated cheese, but from a can of Cheddar cheese soup!
I've written more than once that I'm a creature of habit, especially when it comes to ordering food in a restaurant. When I find something I like at a restaurant, I tend to order it every single time I eat there. One of my favorite restaurants has broccoli rice casserole on the menu. I always order it with cooked cabbage, lima beans, sweet potato casserole and a corn muffin. This is how I serve the casserole at home for a meatless meal, except I omit the cabbage since I'm the only one that likes it.
Hopefully, the vanishing Velveeta will be back on store shelves soon. I certainly hope it will be plentiful when Cinco de Mayo rolls around so I can make queso dip. To be on the safe side, though, I'm going to pick up a box the next time I'm at the grocery. After all, I can't make queso dip without Velveeta!