It always amazes me time and time again how food can evoke such fond memories and emotions in all of us. Memories of our childhood, of special moments, of relationships, and of something special in one’s life. I’ve been making this broccoli rice casserole for over 28 years, and is one of those dishes that always reminds me of my kid brother. Same recipe with no changes to the ingredients for over two decades, not even by sustituting my usual quinoa for rice.
When I first moved to California over 28 years ago, my brother who is much younger than me (14 years younger) would come and visit me every summer. Every holiday that he came to California, I would make my broccoli rice casserole. He grew to love this dish so much that whenever he called to tell me he was visiting he would request that I make my broccoli rice casserole. I made it at other times too, but there is no bigger fan of this dish than my brother Kiran. Broccoli rice casserole has become synonymous in our family with my younger brother – we might as well have named it after him – Kiran’s broccoli rice casserole 😀. In fact, this dish is so synonymous with Kiran that I remember I made the broccoli rice casserole for the family and when they come home from work and school and saw the casserole everyone asked me “Is Kiran visiting?” 😀
Now Kiran is 40 years old and married with twin girls. But even today when he calls to tell me he is visiting his request on the phone is “Do you have all the ingredients to make the broccoli rice casserole? You know I’m gonna want to have some when I visit.”
A couple of years ago Kiran visited me for a very short couple of days and I remember Hitesh and the girls asking me if I was going to make my broccoli rice casserole for him. I told them since he was only here for a couple of days and we may be eating out I wasn’t going to make it this time. Boy was my brother upset about that! He went back to Dallas and didn’t speak to me for a few months. Then when I did speak to him on one of his calls to my kids he asked me “Why didn’t you make the broccoli casserole when I came? You know how much I love it.!” Honestly, I had no idea he would take offense if I didn’t make it, it was as if I had somehow slighted him. I promised I would make him two helpings of the broccoli casserole the next time he came.
Well, Kiran visited us this summer with his wife Prachi and twin girls Virina and Katalina, and guess what his first question was when he came home from the airport? “What day are you making broccoli rice casserole?” 😀😀 I made it this time! Lots of it!
My brother Kiran’s visit to California this summer with wife Prachi and twins Virina and Katalina
Kiran’s twins hanging out with my twins 💞
More pics of the Ferry Building and the Bay Bridge in our favorite city San Francisco ❤️
So here it is folks, my recipe for broccoli rice casserole. I hope your family likes it as much as my brother and my family loves it. And I hope it creates fond memories as it did for us 💕❤️💞.
Broccoli Rice Casserole
- 1lb broccoli cut into small florets
- 1 large onion fine cut
- 3-4 garlic cloves finely minced
- 1 tomato finely chopped
- 1 cup Basmati rice
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- Red chili flakes (optional)
- Salt and pepper
- In a large pot melt 2 tbsp butter. Sauté onions until translucent about 5 minutes. Add garlic and chili flakes if using and combine together.
- Next add cut broccoli, tomatoes, 1 1/2 tsp salt, and 1 tsp pepper. Stir to coat the veggies with the oil and onions. Cook the veggies for a couple of minutes, and then add 1-cup water. Cook broccoli until tender – about 5 minutes.
- Add rice and 3 cups more water and bring mixture to a boil. Cover the pot and cook rice for 20 minutes on low heat until rice is tender. Once rice is cooked, turn the stove off.
- Add shredded cheddar cheese and melt into the rice making sure to incorporate the cheese into the rice thoroughly. At this point the rice is ready.
- To make the rice casserole look more pretty, transfer casserole to a decorative baking dish, sprinkle with extra cheddar cheese and paprika. The cheese will melt from the heat of the rice. Serve warm for the ultimate comfort food!