This post is sponsored by the California Milk Advisory Board. Thanks for supporting foods and brands I love and use!
This is a true story. Sad, but true. When I was young, one of my all-time favorite side dishes was a broccoli, cheese and rice casserole. It was one of those family favorite recipes that my mom always made for family gatherings, and it involved...ahem... canned cream of mushroom soup, frozen chopped broccoli (I’m OK with that one), white rice, and a certain “cheese” product that came in a jar and whose name might rhyme with knees fizz.
I used to eat it by the vat-full. I know, please don’t judge. Well, guess what? I Googled it, and it turns out the recipe is still around, and it’s still enjoyed by families everywhere.
My diet has changed quite a bit since that recipe came out. I try to eat more vegetables, and when I eat starch, it’s usually a whole grain instead of white rice. I prefer to make my own soup, or soup-like sauce from real milk, and I think cheese should come from a dairy, not a jar. I haven't made this recipe in years, but when the California Milk Advisory Board challenged the Recipe ReDux members to lighten up a favorite recipe using Real California dairy products, this one seemed like a great candidate.
I’m not one to skimp on dairy foods. I think all foods have a place in a healthy, balanced diet and since I don’t eat much meat, I find dairy foods are a perfect choice not only for their calcium and vitamins, but also for a good quality source of protein, that you just can’t get with non-dairy substitutes.
I’m a fan of Real California dairy products, even though I live in New England. California is the number-one dairy state in the U.S. and their products are available nationwide. Look for the seals on dairy products and you’ll notice lots of great options including milk, cheese and yogurt.
My Lightened Up Broccoli Cheese Casserole is a great side dish or even meatless main course. It features low fat California milk, and California Monterey Jack Cheese in place of those more processed ingredients, far more vegetables than the original recipe, and whole grain farro instead of white rice. This might just become a new family favorite!
Lightened Up Broccoli Cheese and Farro Casserole
- 2 cups cooked farro from about ¾ cup uncooked.
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium leek light green part cut into thin slices
- 1 medium carrot chopped
- 1 cup chopped crimini mushrooms about 3-4
- 1 large garlic clove minced
- 1 ½ cups broccoli florets 1-inch pieces
- ¼ cup flour
- 1 ½ cups low fat milk
- ¾ cup low sodium chicken broth
- pinch of nutmeg
- 4 ounces shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- salt and pepper
- Prepare farro according to package directions. Drain any excess water that has not absorbed. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Heat butter and oil in a sauté pan on medium high heat. Add leeks, carrot and mushrooms and sauté about 5 minutes, until leeks start to turn golden. Add garlic and sauté for another minute.
- Add flour and stir to combine with vegetables. Cook for 1 minute. Add broth and milk, and bring mixture to a boil to thicken. Add pinch of nutmeg.
- Add broccoli and reduce heat to low. Simmer for about 2 minutes or until broccoli just starts to soften.
- Add farro and stir to combine. Add cheese and stir to combine.
- Add salt and pepper to taste
- Pour entire pan into a casserole dish, or if your pan is oven safe, place it in the oven.
- Cook for about 20 minutes, or until casserole is golden and bubbly and heated through.
By the way, the original recipe has almost 300 calories with 21 grams or fat and over 900 mg of sodium per serving. Do you have any family favorite recipes that can be lightened up with Real California Dairy ingredients?