I had this dish the very first time about 15 years ago. My friend and her boyfriend had my husband and I over for a dinner party and this is what she served at the time. I begged her for the recipe and have made this dish time and time again.
The recipe is easy to fix, but you do have to plan ahead a bit. In my version, I added cooked cut up chicken breast to the casserole. You can also serve grilled chicken on the side but I've also made just the meatless version many times as well. Because of the use of vegetable broth in the dish it is an excellent meal that can be served to vegetarian eaters.
The broccoli, along with the pasta and creamy, cheesy sauce are even better tasting by sprinkling the dish generously with sliced almonds. Who knew that broccoli and almonds were such good "friends".
This truly is a very tasty dish and even kids who usually don't like to eat broccoli trees have been chowing down on this family friendly recipe without complaint.
I hope you will give this wonderful dish a try and maybe 15 years from now you love it still as much as we do!
1 1/2 pounds fresh broccoli, cleaned and pre-cooked in salted water for 5 minutes and drained
1 pound Gemelli Pasta or any other favorite pasta, cooked al dente and drained
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 medium onion, finely diced
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
3/4 cup half-and-half or heavy cream
4 ounces Gouda cheese, shredded
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 ounces sliced almonds
1 pound chicken breast, diced, seasoned and cooked (optional)
Pre-heat oven to 350° F. Generously butter a 9 x 13 casserole dish. Set aside.
In a medium sized pan melt butter, add onions and cook until onion is translucent. Dust with the flour and cook for another 1 minute while stirring. With a whisk add in your vegetable broth and continue to whisk until thickened. Add half-and-half (or heavy cream) and Gouda, stir until cheese is melted. Taste for seasonings and adjust accordingly.
In a large bowl toss together cooked pasta, broccoli, and chicken if desired. Add the mixture to your buttered casserole dish. Pour the cheese sauce evenly over the top. Sprinkle with sliced almonds and bake in your pre-heated oven for 30 minutes. Let casserole sit for about 5 minutes before serving!