Put in charge of the vegetable side dish this Christmas and really wanting to offer up something besides corn casserole or green beans? I feel you.
Let’s take some of the most-hated vegetables and cover them in enough cream sauce and cheese to persuade even the pickiest of cousins!
Here’s how it goes.
We are taking a few extra steps because it is the holidays and we need a diversion from eating Christmas cookies and rethinking our Christmas present-choices.
The vegetables are browned in a bit of butter and then simmered in chicken stock until they just begin to become tender.
After the vegetables have been par-cooked, it is time to make a cream sauce. This velvety cream sauce comes together in minutes. It is not overly cheesy or rich, but the bite of gruyere is sharp and pronounced.
I knew I wanted some kind of crunchy topping for texture and butter crackers called my name. Crushed butter crackers, melted butter, and finely grated gruyere form the most wonderful crumbly topping.
Yes, this is a casserole, but there isn’t a canned soup in sight, and the healthful greens seemingly balance out the generous dose of cheese and cream.
It’s the best way to vegetable.
Creamy Baked Brussel Spouts and Asparagus
12 ounces asparagus
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided use
1 lb brussels sprouts, stems removed and sprouts halved
1 medium shallot, finely diced
2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided use
1/2 cup chicken stock
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups whole milk, warmed*
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup finely shredded gruyere, divided use
1 tube of Ritz butter crackers, finely crushed
*Cook’s Note: While warming the milk may seem like an extra step, it is the difference between a grainy cream sauce and a perfectly smooth sauce. Moral of the story; warm the milk.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Prepare the asparagus by trimming off the bottom 1-inch of the asparagus stems and discarding. Take the trimmed stems and cut into 3-inch pieces. Set aside for now.
Place two tablespoons of butter in a large, nonstick frying pan and melt over medium high heat. Add the prepared asparagus, brussels sprouts, and diced shallot to the pan and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of kosher salt. Cook, stirring every so often, until the sprouts have begun to brown. Pour in chicken stock and simmer until most of the broth has evaporated and the vegetables are tender, but not mushy. This should take approximately five minutes.
Remove the vegetables from the heat while you prepare the cream sauce.
Place four tablespoons of the butter in a 3-quart saucepan and set over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, whisk in flour and cook for 1-2 minutes, whisking constantly, until the roux just begins to deepen in color. Pour in the warm milk and whisk vigorously until the mixture begins to thicken; about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and season with remaining salt, black pepper, and 1/2 cup shredded gruyere.
Pour the vegetables into a 9x13 casserole dish and cover with the prepared cream sauce. Toss gently to coat.
Melt remaining four tablespoons butter in a small dish.
Prepare the cracker topping by stirring together cracker crumbs, melted butter, and remaining 1/2 cup shredded gruyere.
Sprinkle the topping over the vegetables and bake for 20-25 minutes; until the crackers are lightly toasted and the sauce is bubbling.
Allow the casserole to cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.