Baked to perfection, in a bubbly, creamy, cheesy casserole, with a crispy panko crumb topping, these carrots are delightfully simple and delicious!
Casseroles can be made from just about anything, and contrary to popular belief, casseroles do not require meat to be delicious, but a casserole without cheese can be considered blasphemous. Really! If there’s ever a time to indulge and go all in, it’s when making a casserole, because casseroles are comfort food.
When I look back over the last month or two, I’ve noticed that a large number of the recipes posted here to Lord Byron’s Kitchen have been highlighting one ingredient. If you love fall as much as I do, that will most likely be one of the things you look forward to as well.
Fall brings the best types or produce, if you ask me. Sure, carrots are available year round, but the carrots you find in September and October seem to be sweeter and more tender. Carrots are normally a hard vegetable, and they should be, especially if they’re fresh. But when cooking carrots, they should cook fast and not take forever to soften up.
That’s why I decided to make carrots the star of today’s post and to showcase how a simple, inexpensive ingredient like a carrot, can be transformed into a dish that’s comforting, delicious, and beautifully impressive.
So, can you use those baby carrots in this recipe? The answer is simple. Yes and no! In a bind, yes, you can use them. But, if you have just an extra five minutes of time on your hands, please peel and chop whole carrots. The difference in the taste is extremely noticeable.
There are hundreds of recipes published here at Lord Byron’s Kitchen, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a recipe with carrots where I’ve used those baby carrots. I will eat them raw as a snack with hummus, but I have only published one recipe with them in it, and that was because they were a part of a bag of frozen veggies.
If you’re interested at all, it was my recipe for Leftover Turkey Casserole with Biscuits. That recipe is all about being easy, fast, and satisfying. So, in that case, the baby carrots were permitted.
When I made this dish, it dawned on me that every ingredient, with the exception of one, was already in my fridge or pantry. This one time, was the only time I can remember not having panko stashed away in a mason jar somewhere in the back of our pantry. Everything else, I had already.
Now, I blog about food, so it’s obvious that my fridge and pantry are always well stocked; and probably more than the average at-home cook. Rightfully so, I would assume. Looking through the list of ingredients below, I would think that in most cases, dry mustard and panko will be the only two ingredients that most of you will not already have.
If you’re searching for recipes on the internet, I’m assuming that you already enjoy cooking and will already have butter, milk, flour, onion, and cheese. I guess one should never make assumptions, but I just did anyway. By the way, was I wrong? Did you, or do you, have most of the ingredients on hand?
Either way, Carrot Casserole is meant to be rustic and family style. A recipe such as this is not meant to be pretty and perfect; it’s meant to be delicious; it’s meant to be shared; and it’s meant to be eaten. So, happy eating, Dear Reader; and enjoy!
Creamy Cheesy Carrot Casserole
- 2 pounds carrots, peeled and sliced on a diagonal into 3/4 inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon dried sage
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1 cup panko crumbs
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a casserole dish by greasing with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
- Place the chopped carrots into a sauce pan and add water until the carrots are covered by about 1/2 inch. Add 1 teaspoon of salt. Over medium-high heat, bring carrots to a boil. Once water has come to a full boil, cook the carrots for 10-12 minutes. Remove from heat and drain. Set aside.
- While the carrots are cooking, add the butter and onions to a large skillet. Saute the onions over medium heat until cooked through – about 4-5 minutes. Don't brown the onions, but they should be soft and translucent.
- Sprinkle the flour into the onion and butter mixture. Use a whisk to combine and to continuously move the flour around the pan. The flour will be absorbed by the onions and the butter. Once you see no more white flour, continue to cook for 2-3 minutes, while continuing to whisk.
- Next, add the salt, ground black pepper, dry mustard, thyme, sage, and nutmeg. Whisk into the onion mixture.
- Add 1/2 cup of milk and whisk into the onion mixture. Once the flour and onion mixture has been fully whisked into the milk and the mixture begins to thicken, add another 1/2 cup milk and repeat until once again the mixture has thickened. Repeat this action with the last 1/2 cup milk.
- Once all the milk has been added and the sauce is thick, turn off the heat and add the cheese. Stir the cheese into the sauce until melted.
- Arrange the carrots into an even layer in the casserole dish. Ladle the cheese sauce evenly over the carrots. Sprinkle over the panko crumbs.
- Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven; garnish and serve immediately.