Broccoli and cheese is one of those rare irresistible combinations. Children everywhere know that no matter how much they hate broccoli, it will be magically transformed into tasty green nachos if you just throw enough melted cheese at it. Adults who know better than to say they hate broccoli enjoy it for the excuse to eat all that glorious cheese while still claiming they’re being healthy. And for those of us who love broccoli already? Jackpot.
A normal person, faced with the first really chilly day of Fall, might work from this principle to make broccoli cheese soup.
I don’t eat soup.
I made a tart instead.
This little beauty is somewhere between a quiche and a pizza, and better than both. A hot, flaky crust spiked with mustard powder holds in a thick, almost smoky filling of cheese and broccoli and more cheese.
Most foods containing cheddar are barred on principle from being labeled “elegant”. This tart is an exception to that rule. I would be happy to serve this at a fancy dinner party (although I’m happier making it for just Mr. B and me, and having leftovers for a few days), especially considering how simple it is to put together.
Ingredients (makes 1 9-inch tart, serves 6-8)
For the crust:
1 1/4 cups flour
1 t salt
1/2 t mustard powder
8 T (1 stick) cold butter
3 T ice water
For the filling:
2 cups broccoli florets
6 oz sharp cheddar cheese
1 T mustard
dash Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup cream
salt, to taste
Crust comes first. Preheat the oven to 400°F if you plan to pre-bake the crust (I recommend it). Combine the flour, salt, and mustard powder in the bowl of a food processor.
Pulse the dry ingredients briefly to combine.
Add the butter in chunks.
Process the butter and flour until it looks like damp sand.
Add the water bit by bit and process just until the dough comes together in a ball.
Butter a 9-inch tart pan and roll out the dough. Sorry, I get too covered in flour when rolling to risk the camera, so no pictures of that step.
Press the dough into the buttered tin and let it rest in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
Bake the tart crust at 400°F for about 15 minutes, then set it aside while you prepare the filling.
Turn the oven down to 350°F. Cut the broccoli into bite-sized florets and boil or steam them for just a minute or two–only long enough to turn them bright green.
Drain the broccoli well.
Arrange the broccoli in a layer in the tart crust (this was the moment when I realized that not pre-baking the crust would lead to soggy crust. Oops.)
Grate the cheddar and add it on top of the broccoli.
Crack the egg into a small bowl.
Add the cream, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce.
Mix well with a fork or tiny whisk (incidentally, my tiny whisk in the Santa hat died. Anyone know where tiny whisks come from?)
Drizzle the egg and cream mixture over the cheese and broccoli.
Sprinkle some kosher salt over the top if you like. I always like more salt. You could add a sprinkling of bread crumbs, too, if you want some extra crunch, but it isn’t necessary.
Bake at 350°F for 45 minutes, until the cheese begins to brown. Serve hot with a spinach salad or on its own as a light meal.
My favorite part about this is the broccoli. Boiling it prevents it from burning, and the long turn in the oven gives it the rich, smoky flavor of roasted broccoli. Basically, you should make this. It will make grown men do dishes in hopes of sneaking seconds. It’s that good.