This Creamy Vegetable Casserole is simply satisfying! Broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots are lightly coated in a creamy Italian cheese sauce, topped with crunchy breadcrumbs, and baked to bubbly deliciousness. It’s sure to become a new favorite!
A CREAMY VEGETABLE CASSEROLE RECIPE
I love making this easy casserole for a side dish, or even a vegetarian entree – it’s so easy and yet so flavorful. Heavy cream and Italian blend cheese are the base of the delicious sauce, seasoned lightly with herbs and a blend of classic spices to bring out the flavors of the vegetables and cheese.
Plus, it’s a great way to help picky eaters (adults and kids, amirite?) to not only eat their veggies, but to enjoy them!
- Broccoli and Cauliflower: You’ll need a pound of each. I prefer to use just florets, but you can also peel and dice the broccoli stem, if you like. Stems can be tough, however, so just use the upper, tender portion of the stem’s core for best results.
- Baby Carrots: I use one half-pound package. It’s also fine to peel and cut whole carrots into 1-2 inch sections.
- Butter: For the cheese sauce.
- Garlic: I use 3 cloves of fresh garlic, minced or pressed.
- Cornstarch: Just a couple of tablespoons, to thicken the sauce.
- Heavy Cream: One pint of heavy cream makes this sauce so rich and delicious! You can substitute half-and-half or even milk if you like, but the sauce won’t be quite as thick and rich-tasting, and it may not freeze as well, due to the lower fat content. You can also use non-dairy milk, but the taste and texture may differ.
- Italian Seasoning: Pre-packaged Italian seasoning is great here, or you can blend your own!
- Salt and Pepper: To taste.
- Chili Powder and Nutmeg: Just a bit of these spices gives depth and flavor to the cheese sauce.
- Italian Blend Cheese: You’ll need ¾ of a cup of shredded cheese. If you like, try substituting other cheeses like cheddar, Gruyere, or a different blend.
- Panko: A cup of regular Panko breadcrumbs forms the crunchy topping. Feel free to substitute the pork-rind Panko for a low-carb alternative.
HOW TO MAKE THIS VEGETABLE CASSEROLE
- Pre-Cook the Vegetables. Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat. Add all of the vegetables to the boiling water, and return to a boil. Then cover the pot, lower the heat to a steady simmer, and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the veggies are fork-tender.
- Make the Cream Sauce. While the vegetables are cooking, melt the butter in a large skillet; add the garlic and cook for 20 seconds. Then whisk the cornstarch into the butter until fully blended; cook for another minute. Add the heavy cream and bring to a boil, whisking frequently. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until thickened.
- Stir in Cheese and Seasonings. Remove the cream sauce from the heat, and stir in the Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, chili powder, ground nutmeg, and cheese; whisk until cheese is melted.
- Assemble the Casserole. Spread half a cup or so of the cheese sauce on the bottom of the baking dish. Drain the veggies, and then transfer to the baking dish; season with salt and pepper and stir. Add the remaining cheese sauce, stirring to coat all the vegetables. Finally, top with Panko.
- Bake. Bake the assembled casserole for 20 minutes, or until hot and bubbly. Remove from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes to thicken and set.
This recipe is already relatively low in carbs, thanks to the broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and the minimal amount of starch to thicken the sauce. If you’d like to make it even lower in carbs, be sure to use pork-rind Panko instead of regular, and eliminate the butter and cornstarch from the sauce.
To do this, double the amount of cheese in the recipe, and warm the sauce without boiling it, just enough to melt the cheese. Boiling a non-roux cheese sauce will cause the sauce to separate and become grainy. Please keep in mind that leftovers will not store as well, and should not be frozen.
For those following a Weight Watchers Points Plan, you can use Fat Free Half & Half in place of the heavy cream, and Fat Free Shredded Mozzarella Cheese in place of the Italian Blend Cheese.
TIPS FOR MAKING THIS CASSEROLE AHEAD
- To make the casserole ahead, I suggest pre-cooking the veggies and sauce, storing separately in the fridge for up to 2 days before using. Assemble and bake the casserole the day you want to serve it.
- Note: if you make the sauce without cornstarch, you’ll need to make it the day of, because it will not store and reheat very well.
WHAT GOES WITH VEGETABLE CASSEROLE?
- Seafood: I love serving broccoli dishes with seafood anyway, but this creamy, cheesy casserole goes especially well with seafood! Try my Maryland-Style Crab Cakes as a perfect appetizer or light entree with this yummy casserole.
- Chicken: The zingy lemon in this easy Baked Lemon Chicken makes a fun and zesty contrast to the smooth, saucy veggies and crunchy Panko. Total win!
- A Colorful Salad: This Mediterranean Cobb Salad is a colorful, crunchy, and healthy addition that makes this simple casserole into a hearty meal!
HOW TO STORE AND REHEAT LEFTOVERS
- To refrigerate, store leftovers in airtight containers, and place in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- To reheat, place the desired portion of leftover casserole in an ovenproof dish and bake at 350˚F until heated through.
CAN YOU FREEZE THIS HOMEMADE CASSEROLE?
Yes! This casserole can be made and frozen, tightly wrapped, for up to two months.
More Broccoli Casserole Recipes
Tools Used in this Recipe
CREAMY VEGETABLE CASSEROLE
- 1 pound broccoli florets
- 1 pound cauliflower florets
- ½ pound baby carrots
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 ½ teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- ¼ teaspoon chili powder, or to taste
- ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¾ cup shredded Italian blend cheese
- 1 cup pork rind panko crumbs, for topping (you can also use regular panko crumbs)
- Preheat oven to 400˚F.
- Lightly grease a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
- Boil a large pot of water over high heat.
- Add all vegetables to the boiling water and bring water back to a boil; cover, lower heat to a steady simmer, and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until veggies are fork-tender.
- In the meantime, melt butter in a 10-inch skillet; add garlic and cook for 20 seconds.
- Whisk in cornstarch until blended; cook for 1 minute.
- Add heavy cream; bring to a boil, whisking frequently. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until thickened.
- Remove from heat; stir in italian seasoning, salt, pepper, chili powder, ground nutmeg, and cheese; whisk until cheese is melted.
- Spread ½-cup of the cheese sauce on the bottom of the baking dish.
- Drain the vegetables, then transfer to the baking dish; season with salt and pepper and stir.
- Add remaining cheese sauce; stir to coat all the vegetables.
- Sprinkle top with pork rinds panko crumbs.
- Bake for 20 to 23 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.
- Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes. Taste for salt and pepper, and adjust accordingly.
- NET CARBS: 9 g
- For those following a Weight Watchers Points Plan, to keep these points at a 4, please use Fat Free Half & Half in place of the heavy cream, and Fat Free Shredded Mozzarella Cheese in place of the Italian Blend Cheese.