chicken divan

First and foremost, wishing the happiest of Mother’s Day to all you wonderful mothers out there – and especially to my own Momma : ) It goes without saying that I wouldn’t be here today, doing {& cooking!} what I love, if it wasn’t for her constant encouragement!

With that being said, I thought it would be most appropriate to dedicate a recipe, albeit a favorite one of my mom’s, here in honor of her.

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Chicken Divan is one of those meals that, for me at least, holds wonderful memories of my childhood. We were allowed on our birthday, each year, to pick out whatever meal and dessert that we wanted, and my mom would whip it up for dinner. It was fabulous – and I always, without a doubt, chose this meal. I kid you not when I say that I requested this at least 5 or 6 years in a row…it’s just that good. Because honestly, is there a better combination of chicken/brocooli/cheese/cream sauce that you can think of? I should think not, especially when it’s made just for you.

Flash forward some 15 odd years or so later; this meal is still one of my favorites. It always seemed so labor intensive when I was younger, but with several years of copious kitchen time under my belt, this particular meal is actually fairly easy to throw together. A “one dish” casserole meal, if you prefer.

But, because it’s me, I’ve made it a little bit more laborious than its traditional counterpart {but only by a few minutes or so, I promise!}. This is still easy to make after a long day of work, even if you choose to make the sauce I’ve dictated out below. We all know by now that I love a good and healthy tofu-based sauce, so I’ve gone ahead and replaced the traditional sauce {condensed soup, sour cream, and milk} with a thick and creamy sauce of tofu, sauteed onions/garlic, and bountiful herbs. With its luxurious mouth feel, it beautifully coats each piece of chicken and broccoli in this casserole, and blends so delightfully with the bed of rice you serve this atop of.

Go ahead and give this dish a try – not to toot my own horn here, dears….but this is definitely a “winner winner, chicken dinner.”

xx

~~~

Chicken Divan

Ingredients:

1 lb. organic boneless, skinless chicken breasts {fully cooked and shredded}

1 large onion, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 large head of broccoli, blanched {or keep it easy and use a steamer bag – I adore these}

14 oz. firm tofu*

1/4 to 1/2 C. low sodium chicken stock

1 C. bread crumbs

grated cheese, to suit your taste {I go between 1 to 1-1/2 cups}

extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper, to taste

dried herbs…such as rosemary, basil, thyme, oregano, etc. {optional}

Rice, or your pasta of choice, for serving

 

To Prepare:

Precook the chicken

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum {to ensure easy clean up} and place chicken atop. Drizzle liberally with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Turn to the other side, and with clean hands, season the other side. Cook for 25 to 30 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and the juices run clear. Set aside to cool, then shred using your hands or forks when it is cool enough to handle. Set aside.

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Keep oven temperature at 375 degrees.

Prepare the sauce

Set a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Drizzle with a turn or two of olive oil, and when hot enough {the oil will ripple and spatter slightly} add in the garlic and onions. Season with salt and pepper  and cook until the onions become translucent and the garlic has rendered out some of its spicy notes.

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Drain and cube up your firm tofu, and place into the base of a large food processor {I have a 14 cup…talk about a great wedding present!}. Add in the sauteed onion/garlic mixture, chicken stock {starting with a 1/4 cup and adding in more only as necessary} and begin to process. Let it initially go for 3-5 minutes, then remove the lid and scrape down the sides. Taste and adjust for seasoning – salt and pepper is a must, and sometimes I like to crush up some dried herbs and add in for another layer of flavor. Let the mixture process together for another 3-5 minutes. You want your resulting sauce to be extremely creamy and free of lumps.

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Build the casserole

Spray a 9 x 13 glass casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray. Spread a thin layer of the white sauce on the bottom of the dish, then layer in the chicken and broccoli. Add in the remaining sauce {feel free to give it a good swirl in the dish, allowing for the sauce to coat all sides of the chicken and broccoli, and get into the nooks and crannies}. Sprinkle with cheese and bread crumbs, then drizzle with olive oil to help it crisp up.

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Cook for 25-30 minutes, or until the edges begin to bubble and the top is a beautiful golden brown.

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Serve atop rice or your favorite pasta alternative! I’ve had great success using my trusty spaghetti squash “pasta” as well.

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*next time, I may double the amount of tofu, so that there is a bit more of the sauce throughout the casserole. Feel free to adjust, suiting to your taste and preference!

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