I wasn’t always so gung ho about vegetables. Just like most other children, I was skeptical of new foods and needed some prompting to eat my vegetables.
So my dad came up with the idea of serving us broccoli with cheese sauce. Made with just a simple roux, milk, and shredded cheese, it was a 5 minute solution to get us to eat our veggies. And it worked! My sister and I would gobble them up and even ask for seconds!
As I got older I found I liked the taste of broccoli on its own – especially roasted – so I haven’t thought about that cheese sauce in years. That is until I started dating JZ who has the taste buds of a 5 year old (and I say that in a loving way). So I’ve had to get creative with my veggies and whip out that cheese sauce for broccoli, maple glaze for roasted carrots, gremolata for green beans… basically anything to disguise the fact that I’m actually serving vegetables. So far everything has been a hit, I think (except for coleslaw!), but he especially loved that broccoli with cheese sauce.
I was inspired to add the pine nuts on top after I went to Beast in the fall and had rapini with spiced buttermilk aioli and pine nut crumble. The aioli wasn’t a cheese sauce, but it reminded me of the one from my childhood and gave me the idea to merge the two dishes into this one.
I used Gruyere, but you could really use any hard cheese like cheddar or Gouda or Parmesan. Or hey, go crazy and do a blend of cheeses. Either way, you can’t go wrong with cheese sauce, am I right?
- 1 lb broccoli, chopped into florets
- 2 tbsp toasted pine nuts
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 tbsp salted butter
- 1 tbsp all purpose flour
- ¾ cup of low fat milk
- ¾ cup shredded Gruyere cheese
- ¼ tsp salt
- ⅛ tsp pepper or more to taste
- In a small pan, toast the pine nuts over low heat (watching them carefully!) until they are golden in colour. Let them cool, then crush them in a mortar with a pestle. Add ¼ tsp of salt and then set aside.
- In a medium sized saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Then add the flour, and whisk it into the butter for about a minute. Add about ¼ cup of the milk and whisk it in until smooth, then add the rest of the milk, grated cheese, and salt and pepper. Stir until thickened then remove from the heat.
- Place the broccoli florets in about 1 inch of water in a pot with a lid. Bring to a boil and let the broccoli steam until it is bright in colour. Drain and place broccoli in a serving dish. Top with cheese sauce and crushed pine nuts.
How do you jazz up your vegetables?