Introduction: Timeshifting Food – Broccoli, Rice, and Cheese From Scratch for One…or Six

Let’s do the time shift again, with apologies to The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Hot lunch for one…or six? No problem.

Thaw in the refrigerator (1 – 2 days). Remove the lid and bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes. Add avocado slices on the side. Serve.

See Macaroni and Cheese From Scratch for info on avocados. You will also see that this recipe uses the same technique for making the sauce. This one is also very easy to make and turns out every time.

This is a broccoli, rice, and cheese casserole but made from scratch to allow recipe substitution for lactose sensitivity, onion and garlic sensitivity, and individually portioned. Instead of regular milk or cream soup, it uses lactose free milk and an olive oil and all purpose flour thickener (roux). Instead of fresh onion and garlic, it uses small amounts of dried onion and dried garlic. Just enough to give it flavor.

The microwave is used for all of the prep work and everything is cooked in glass throughout. It is baked in the oven because the cheese crust is one of the best parts of broccoli, rice, and cheese.

I use an older Panasonic microwave and a Breville BOV800XL oven for cooking. They work well when cooking for one (or two).

Step 1: Timeshifting the Broccoli, Rice, and Cheese - Ingredients

Note: The photos show everything but the broccoli. See the next section for the broccoli.

Ingredients

Rice (makes 3 cups cooked rice)

1-1/3 cups white rice

2-1/4 cups water

1 teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon olive oil

Broccoli

4 cups fresh broccoli, bite sized

Topping

85g cheddar cheese, shredded (3 oz / 3/4 cup approx.)

Sauce

2 Tablespoons Olive oil

3 Tablespoons All-purpose flour

2 cups lactose free milk

1/4 teaspoons dried onion flakes

1/8 teaspoon dried garlic

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder

3 Tablespoons cream cheese (1.5 ounces)

227g Cheddar cheese, shredded (8 ounces / 2 cups approx.)

Baking dishes

Crisco

Note: Everyone makes substitutions in recipes but be aware that they can have unintended results. Flour thickening holds up under reheating, unlike cornstarch. More aged cheese has a higher fat content and results in more free oil and a less crispy topping.

Note: I buy the Cheddar cheese pre-shredded from the big box store and split it into two gallon freezer Ziploc bags. They keep in the refrigerator.

Step 2: Timeshifting Broccoli

Broccoli time shifts well if it is fresh. I get the best shelf life by soaking the broccoli in a baking soda and surfactant wash, rinsing, cutting them into major florets, and storing them in the refrigerator in a plastic container with a loose foil lid.

At the store, check the broccoli for freshness. Grip a broccoli by the crown, like a baseball, and give it a gentle squeeze. The rule is the same as for zucchini in my Manicotti recipe. Firm is fresh. “Flexy” is past its prime. Fresh broccoli is usually good for up to two weeks in the refrigerator.

DIY vegetable washes all seem to have, individually, vinegar, citrus juice (usually lemon), salt, baking soda, or some combination of these. You want to have either an acidic or basic wash. Therefore, you don’t combine baking soda (basic) with vinegar or lemon juice (acidic) because they counteract each other. Salt is neither basic nor acidic and can be added to either alkaline or acidic washes.

Studies on DIY vegetable washes for “killing germs” on produce seem to come down to either vinegar (acidic pH) or baking soda (basic pH) for cost and effectiveness. Although vinegar appears to be the “top” cleaner, I don’t care for pickled produce (except of course for Best Maid hamburger slices).

My wash consists of three items and is cheap.

1/3 cup baking soda

1/4 teaspoon surfactant (Planet Dish Washing Liquid)

A sink 3/4’s full of water (about 2.5 gallons)

Note: Baking soda solubility (how much will dissolve) in room temperature water is about 96 g/L (2-3/8 cups of baking soda/2.5 gallons water).

Step 3: Timeshifting the Broccoli, Rice, and Cheese - Preparation

Rice:

1. In a 2-quart measure, add water, rice, salt, and olive oil.

2. Microwave covered on High for 8 minutes and then on Medium for 12 minutes.

3. Let rest for 5 minutes.

4. Fluff with a fork and put in a 4.5L glass Dutch oven.

Containers:

1. While the rice is cooking, grease 6 Pyrex individual baking dishes.

Note: I use rectangular “Pyrex Simply Store 1.875 Cup Rectangular Dish W/ Red Lid”. ShopWorldKitchen.com usually has buy one get the next one half off deals. If you are on their email, you can get dollars off coupons that can equal "free" shipping. I have enough of these things to fill half a shelf but they are constantly in use with several timeshift dishes.

Cheese:

1. While the rice is cooking, grate the cheese (if necessary) for the topping and the sauce. Set aside.

Broccoli

1. While the rice is cooking, cut broccoli into bite sized pieces and put into a 2-quart glass measure.

2. Spritz with water and cover. Set aside.

3. When the rice is done, microwave the broccoli on High for 3 minutes. You want it slightly crisp as it will cook more in the oven. Drain and pour the broccoli over the rice.

Sauce:

1. In a 2-quart measure, add olive oil and flour. Mix well with a fork until all of the flour is incorporated.

2. Stir in the milk, slowly, while stirring. It is important to get the oil/flour incorporated into the first quarter cup of milk. After that, it mixes easily.

3. Stir in dried onion, dried garlic, and black pepper.

4. Microwave covered on High for 3 minutes and stir well.

5. Microwave covered three times on High for 60 seconds and stir well each time. After the first time, make sure you get the thickened sauce at the bottom mixed back into the sauce,

6. Microwave covered four times on High for 30 seconds and stir well each time. The sauce will have a “fluffy” consistency.

7. Add the mustard and stir well. Break up any clumps of mustard so there aren’t any mustard “surprises”.

8. Cube (so it melts faster) and add the cream cheese. Stir to incorporate

9. Add the Cheddar cheese in batches (2 or 3). Stir to incorporate each time. It will become thicker as you add cheese.

Broccoli, rice, and cheese:

1. Pour the sauce over the broccoli and rice. Use a silicone spatula to get all of the sauce onto the pasta.

2. Mix well so all of the broccoli and rice is coated. Break up any rice clumps.

3. Portion evenly into the Pyrex baking dishes. Use a silicone spatula to get all of the broccoli, rice, and cheese into the dishes.

4. Top with Cheddar cheese.

6. Snap on the lids and freeze

Note: Use a sprayer filled with water to wet vegetables for steaming in the microwave. The smaller size of the droplets is more likely to be converted to steam.

Note: Use Chinet paper lunch plates (8-3/4-inches) as lids. They are sturdy enough to hold the contents when draining.

Step 4: Bake the Broccoli, Rice, and Cheese

Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake for 30 minutes until bubbly and top begins to brown.

Breville – set to “Bake”, preheat to 350 degrees F, 30 minutes, and middle rack

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