Broccoli with Cheese Sauce and Toasted Pine Nuts

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!

Broccoli with cheese sauce and crushed toasted pine nuts

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?

Broccoli with cheese sauce and crushed toasted pine nuts

Broccoli with Cheese Sauce and Toasted Pine Nuts
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Steamed broccoli with an easy homemade cheese sauce. Toasted pine nuts on top add a great nutty flavour and texture to the dish!
Yield: 4 servings
  • 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
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Broccoli with cheese sauce and crushed toasted pine nuts

How do you jazz up your vegetables?


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32 Responses to Broccoli with Cheese Sauce and Toasted Pine Nuts

  1. Oh goodness this looks delish- I want to eat the sauce by the spoonful ;)! Fresh herbs are my favourite way to jazz up veggies. Flavored oils are another go-to me. Even something as simple as sesame oil can totally transform an otherwise boring plate of steamed greens!

  2. i am more into roasting veggies whatever i have on hand,,,lately i have been roasting veggies in bulk (carrots, cauliflower, butternut squash) and using them throughout the week. the idea of simple cheese sauce sounds delicious…

  3. broccoli with cheese sauce is always a good option! i love roasting my vegetables and/or adding them to pastas!

  4. This recipe looks amazing! I love cheese :)
    My favorite way to eat vegetables is to roast them with olive oil and different seasonings. I also like make things like ratatouille or caponata.

    • Chelsea

      I used to make ratatouille all the time, but I haven’t done it in a while. I’ve never made caponata though – I have a recipe bookmarked from Jamie Oliver I’ve been meaning to try!

  5. your plating skills! girlfriend, you’re killing it with the photography lately!

  6. Great recipe! As a kid I definitely needed cheese sauce to mask the strong taste of certain vegetables. These days I like to jazz up my veggies with olive oil and spices (curry powder is a fave).

  7. That cheese sauce looks incredible Chelsea- As do your pictures! Look at you go :)

    Truth be told, I don’t like to mix vegetables and cheese as like you, I love them roasted but definitely for those with acquired tastebuds, adding cheese is the way to go! ;)

  8. Looks delicious! I’ll have to trick, I mean test this out on my JZ. ;)

  9. The only vegetables I’d eat as a kid were potatoes, corn, peas, and raw carrots — anything else I’d pick off and leave. And I don’t even think it mattered whether it was covered in sauce or not — I saw through that ploy :lol: Now I’m a huge veggie fan, and I like them basically on their own. No jazzing up necessary.

  10. What a beautiful dish! You’ll get JZ loving veggies yet!

  11. I totally grew up eating broc and cauli with cheese sauce! I really thought they HAD to go together lol. I too grew up to appreciate roasted/steamed/stir-fried, etc. broccoli, but I still love a cheese sauce. This is absolutely gorgeous. Love the pine nuts––they make everything so snazzy! And I’m ashamed to say I don’t know if I’ve ever purchased gruyere. I’m such a townie sometimes ;)

    PS. I love that your dad made a roux. Dads are the bomb! xo

    • Chelsea

      Now that Simcoe is growing up (seriously I can’t believe how much it has changed in the past 5-10 years!) and has a Superstore, I’m sure you’d be able to find Gruyere there! It’s seriously one of my favourite cheeses.

  12. This certainly looks like a delicious way to enjoy broccoli!

  13. Basically, this sounds like the best thing ever. I could eat this as a main dish.

  14. Oh yes, my mom used the same trick on me to get me to eat my veggies. Broccoli and cheese was my favorite although she used Velveeta at the time…gross! I’m sure Gruyere tastes a million times better and I love the fancy yet simple addition of pine nuts. Looks delicious!

  15. This is almost exactly the same way my mother taught me to make cheese sauce as well. She adds a pinch of nutmeg though. These days I use that same cheese sauce to make my Mac & Cheese.

    Love the recipe, and the addition of pine nuts was genius. A perfect little crunch to finish it off.

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