This quick-to-assemble casserole is ideal on a busy night or when you simply don’t feel like cooking. It can also be made in advance and reheated and it freezes beautifully. Perfect for a potluck, to deliver to a friend in need, or to pack in a cooler for a weekend get-away.
Years ago, when getting together in Stone Harbor, New Jersey for the weekend with my mom and aunt, my aunt brought this meal for an easy, at-the-ready dinner. We all loved it and, as we ate, she listed the ingredients.
I never wrote down the recipe. I memorized it (it’s that easy!) and have made it many, many times since.
The quick-to-assemble casserole feels like a gift on a weeknight and is equally handy when you have last-minute company. It’s great for brunch, too.
While I have tweaked the recipe slightly over time, it is very much the same easy meal we enjoyed that evening in Stone Harbor.
While I don’t often reach for ready-made ingredients, they can be helpful－and better than a drive-thru! In this case, a package of refrigerated rolls creates a flaky crust for other, largely wholesome, ingredients.
My aunt always used basic deli ham, which works well. To elevate the meal slightly, I often opt for half deli ham and half prosciutto. Frozen broccoli and shredded cheese round out the base, and then a quick egg and milk mixture serves as the binder.
As I mention in the recipe, squeezing the excess liquid out of the thawed broccoli is the key to a crisp crust. Once I decided to see what happened if I omitted this step, and the finished dish was, in fact, watery.
The broccoli need not be cooked, however, as long as you have time to fully thaw it. If not, cook it in the microwave or on the stovetop so that you are able to effectively remove the excess water. (For a rather efficient method, I wring the broccoli out in a clean tea towel.)
A simple salad or your favorite frozen vegetable will bolster the meal. When my boys were young, I often served the casserole with a side of applesauce or apple slices.
See the recipe notes for more helpful suggestions, and feel free to ramp up the veggies, mix up the cheeses or add your favorite herbs.
For my gluten-free friends, this is one of the few meals for which I don’t have a solid alternative. My latest thought it that 8-10 ounces of gluten-free pizza dough could be stretched thin and used in place of the crescent rolls. I have not tried this, however, so if you experiment on your own, please report back!
My favorite part of this meal might just be the aroma that wafts through the kitchen while baking. It’s heavenly and suggests far more effort than was actually required.
Also, if it’s more convenient for you to bake the casserole earlier in the day, or even the day before, by all means do so. When reheated in the oven, the top layer and edges take on an extra hint of crispy, golden brown goodness, adding an extra layer of flavorful appeal.
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup milk (I use non-fat; whole or 2% work well, too)
- 1 (8-ounce) package Original Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
- 1 (10-ounce) package frozen broccoli spears, thawed with moisture squeezed out (see helpful hints)
- ¼ pound thinly sliced prosciutto
- ¼ pound your favorite ham*
- 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- ½ cup (2 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese
Preheat the oven to 375℉.
In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs with the milk and set aside.
Unroll the crescent rolls and line the bottom of an ungreased 9×13 baking dish with them. These will serve as the crust. (Helpful hint: I keep the rolls attached at the seams and stretch them a little ways up the sides of the dish. Don’t worry if there are a few small gaps in the seams.)
Tear the prosciutto and ham into strips or pieces (or purchase it chipped) and distribute over the rolls. Do the same with the broccoli. (There is no need to cook the broccoli unless you didn’t have time to thaw it fully. Either way, just make sure to remove the excess water.)
Sprinkle the cheeses evenly over the top. Then drizzle the egg and milk mixture evenly over the top.
Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown.
*While a mixture of prosciutto and ham provides nice flavor in this recipe, using all ham is fine and may be a more economical choice. I choose my favorite basic deli ham and asked for it to be chipped for extra ease.
•My favorite trick to remove all the moisture from frozen and thawed broccoli (and spinach, for that matter) is to literally wring it out in a clean dish towel. Less moisture is often the trick to a better end result when baking with these vegetables.
•I prefer to purchase frozen broccoli crowns. When not marked as such, the bags often contain as many stem pieces as crowns (although I use the stems, too). Also, for more even coverage if the spears are large, I tear them into smaller pieces after removing the moisture. Lastly, broccoli fans may use a 16-ounce bag of frozen broccoli crowns instead of the stated 10-ounce bag.
•If I have some spinach in my vegetable drawer, I sometimes wilt that (the last time I used half a 5-ounce bag), squeeze out all the excess moisture and add it with the broccoli.
originally posted 12-05-12
And because it’s always fun to see the old photos…