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  • Mary Kay

Cheesy EASY Broccoli Sausage Jalapeno Casserole - a delicious holiday side

Here’s a delish alternative to the usual sides at a big family dinner during the holiday season. I heat up the dish with a jalapeno pepper and some red pepper flakes. Of course, you can omit them and keep it not so spicy if you like.

Casserole - it's not a dirty word! Invigorate the casserole reputation by making this delicious casserole, easy from scratch with fresh veggies, instead of the lowly bland green bean casserole. No high sodium ingredients here; no tasteless premade soups here. It’s all fresh, including veggies and their fresh vitamins with an easy to make roux (gravy). This casserole is fresh and mainly delicious as a side dish with beef, turkey, or ham…or even as your whole meal since it has flavorful sausage and jalapeno peppers in it.

Short of time?

If you’re short of time on the day of the big meal, this casserole can easily be prepared the day before. Just blanch and pour the veggies in the oven safe casserole dish. Make the roux (gravy) and pour over the veggies. Have the crispy toasted bread crumbs ready and mix them with the cheeses just before you put the casserole in the oven. Don’t mix them together the day before or the bread crumbs will lose their crispiness.

This recipe makes enough for 6-8 side dishes, depending on the serving sizes. I’ve even used it as a complete meal with a crusty bread alongside since there is sausage in it.

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees.

Prepare your casserole dish:

I use my 3-quart ceramic oven safe casserole dish for this recipe, lightly spreading extra virgin oil over the bottom and sides.

Gather up your Ingredients:

2 C Broccoli florets

1 Carrot, cleaned, diced

1 Potato, cleaned, diced

1 Jalapeno pepper, cleaned, diced or rings

Gather your roux gravy Ingredients:

1 T Olive oil, extra virgin

1 T Butter

1 Italian Sausage

2 T Flour

1 C Milk

1 t Powdered garlic

1 t Powdered onion

¼ t Red Pepper flakes

Salt and pepper to taste

Gather up your top layer Ingredients:

½ C Cheddar cheese, freshly shredded

½ C Cheese, any spicy variety, freshly shredded

1 C Bread crumbs, finely crumbled and toasted (recipe below)

Mix your veggies:

- Clean the broccoli and cut into bite sized florets.

- It doesn’t matter if you like to leave the skins on the potatoes and carrots – just make sure to clean them good before dicing them.

- After you’ve cleaned and cut up the veggies, steam them in a little water in a saucepan on top of the stove. Or you can cook them in the microwave for 1 minute. They don’t need to be completely cooked. I cook them just so they are a little soft, but mostly crunchy. This will save baking time in the oven. They’ll look and taste much fresher.

- Place the veggies in the casserole dish, cover and set aside.

Make your roux (gravy):

- This is what makes the entire dish. Freshly made roux and the herbs and spices make this a delicious casserole.

- Melt the butter with the extra virgin olive oil in a small or medium saucepan on low to medium heat on the stove.

- Add the sausage, broken up, and sauté until nicely browned. If you don’t have Italian sausage, any plain or spicy sausage will work.

- Sprinkle in the flour and whisk for 1 minute until lumps are gone and it turns a light golden color.

- Slowly stir in the milk, continuing to whisk. The mixture will thicken nicely within 1-3 minutes. Be sure to whisk the entire time.

- Whisk in the garlic and onion powders, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Taste it since this is the time to add any other herbs you’d like. Or ramp up the spiciness by adding more red pepper flakes or even cayenne pepper.

Mix your top layer:

- In a medium bowl, mix the freshly shredded cheddar and spicy cheeses and toasted bread crumbs. Set aside.

Note: You can avoid dirtying another bowl and mix the cheese and toasted bread crumbs, alternating them as you layer them on top of the veggies and roux.

Option #1: Want homemade bread crumbs? I use a leftover partial loaf of crusty seeded bread. Any type will do. Mine is usually a 7-grain bread and I usually have a half loaf in the freezer. Cut it up into small cubes and coat it with extra virgin olive oil. I add a teaspoon of butter for a little flavor. No salt is needed since it’s already in the bread. Then toast in the oven at 325F degrees for 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes to toast on all sides. When they turn a nice golden brown and crispy, they are done. Crunch them up in a bag and they’re ready to use as crispy bread crumbs, with the cheeses, on top of your casserole.

Option #2: If you don’t have bread crumbs or don’t want to make them, crush about 20 butter flavored crackers into fine crumbs.

Assemble and bake your casserole:

- With the mixed veggies in the casserole dish, pour the roux over, letting it drizzle through the veggies.

- Spread the toasted bread crumbs and cheese mixture over the top, covering all.

- Bake at 325F degrees for 20-30 minutes, until the cheese and bread crumbs are toasty golden on top.

- Serve alongside your main dish, beef, turkey or ham. It’s a cheesy way to get more veggies into your diet, especially at a big holiday dinner.

There are so many veggies you could substitute for the ones I’ve mentioned above…corn, peas, okra, artichokes, sweet peppers, etc. Whatever you veggies mix in this casserole, “Bake your own Memories!”

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