The ladies of a certain generation are very protective of their old family recipes and refuse to share their secrets even among their closest friends. If, heavens, a woman finds herself forced to reveal the recipe, she might…I’m saying might…accidentally, like totally by accident…leave out one crucial ingredient rendering the replication far inferior to the original.
Such ingredient omission could result in conversations like “Louise, I made your pecan bars last week and they just weren’t as good…’ To which Louise might just smile and say ‘bless your heart’. (see Southern lady’s translation of this sentiment)
I had been begging a friend’s mother for her Zucchini casserole recipe for exactly three years. Every time I saw her I asked again and she always found a way around giving it to me.
Denial of its existence: ‘I’m not even sure I have it written down.’
No way to send it: ‘Oh, I don’t have email.’
Fear of being replaced: ‘I don’t want the casserole showing up at dinner parties all over town.’
But, I was persistent and about six months ago, she sat me down, went into a triple locked vault and simply said: ‘Do you have a pen?’
Listening intently…I took copious notes and asked only one question: ‘do you think adding toasted bread crumbs to the top would be good?’ Horrified, insulted and thinking about ripping the recipe out of my hands, she shook her head disapprovingly and said firmly, ‘NO.’
When it came time to make the casserole, (and please don’t tell) I did make a few changes: I subbed out zucchini for broccoli and divided the recipe by 4 – ‘Louise’ (that’s an alias, she who has no access to the internet or this blog prefers not to be named) makes a giant batch, divides in to several 9-inch bread pans before cooking and freezes – then she pulls out a pan, thaws and bakes off as needed.
Tiny Apartment Tips:
- This recipe was translated from one that made enough Zucchini casserole for an army – there was math – but it worked out. Don’t be afraid to do some dividing in order to cook for fewer than 57 people
- Write expiry dates on the side of packages that face out in the cabinet – that way each time you look in there, you’ll know how many more days you have left to use your Bisquick – I had until today (no fear, I baked this over the weekend)
- Don’t keep your 8×8 Le Creuset baking dish on the very top shelf of your cabinets – the fact that mine was up there kept me from using it for a very long time. Thank goodness for my Gracious Home step ladder
Broccoli Pie (serves 4)
2 Cups Broccoli Florets
- 1/2 Large Onion
- 2 Large Eggs
- 1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil
- 1/2 Cup Bisquick Baking Mix
- 1/4 Cup Grated or Shredded Parmesan Cheese
- 1 Teaspoon Italian Seasoning
- Pepper – if you want
Preheat Oven to 425 degrees
1. Mise en place – always miss en place – cheese, eggs, vegetable oil, Bisquick mix, onion half, Italian Seasoning
2. Chop the stems off of your broccoli and rough chop – then wash
3. Pretend you’re going to make vegetable stock and keep the broccoli stems in the freezer until you admit that you’re not going to ever make vegetable stock and then throw them out.
4. Roast the broccoli – this adds a great, browned, smoky flavor to the casserole. Spread the broccoli in a single layer on a lined cookie sheet. Toss with ‘really good’ olive oil and salt. Roast for 15 mins, tossing them around a bit about halfway through.
5. Turn oven down to 350 degrees
6. Allow the broccoli to cool for about :10 mins then toss it into your Cuisinart
7. Chop the onion into chunks and toss into the Cuisinart with the broccoli
8. Pulse until the broccoli and onions are well minced, but still have a tiny bit of chunkiness to them
9. If you’re using shredded parmesan (not grated) – add to the Cuisinart and pulse a few more seconds
10. In a separate bowl combine the 2 eggs, Bisquick, Vegetable oil, Italian Seasoning and pepper if you like that kind of thing. You already salted the roasted broccoli, so no need to add more. (Also if you’re using grated parmesan, add it now)
11. Add the broccoli, cheese, onion mince to the Bisquick mix and stir to combine
12. It should look like this – just make sure you get all of the dry bisquick-y stuff well combined with the veggies and eggs
13. Spray an 8×8 Le Creuset dish with Pam or other nonstick cooking spray. Can you use other than Le Creuset? No, no you can not.
14. Spread the mixture into the baking dish evenly – should be about 1 inch thick
15. Bake at 350 – did you remember to turn down the oven? – for :35 mins or until lovingly browned
16. Slice into wedges and serve
The Broccoli Pie nee Zucchini casserole recipe was worth waiting, begging and ultimately fighting for. It’s a ’70s throwback to the time when most vegetables were over boiled or minced and most side dishes included Bisquick.
To those of you who are courting women of a certain generation for a secret family recipe, let me say just this – patience and perseverance pay off. And, if this dish starts popping up at dinner parties all over town – please don’t tell ‘Louise’ about this blog.