Monday, October 11, 2010

A New Take on a Comforting Casserole

When my sister called to tell me about an update she had made to the Chicken Divan recipe we knew and loved, I knew it wouldn’t be long until I made a version of it myself. I remembered the casserole, which was made with cream of chicken soup, mayonnaise, chicken, broccoli, and cheddar cheese, as a comforting dish of cheesy goodness.

My sister had upped the ante, substituting Swiss cheese and adding ham and cauliflower along with the broccoli. She told me I had to make it. I knew I would, but I wanted to give it my own twist. It wasn’t long after I hung up the phone until I started researching.

As if by destiny I happened upon a chicken cauliflower casserole in an old stack of Eating Well magazines. It’s wasn’t exactly the same as either the original Chicken Divan or my sister’s updated version, but it did call for Swiss cheese. It also added pasta to the mix, but being a fan of carbohydrates I didn’t mind.

Instead of cream of chicken soup and mayonnaise, the recipe had me making my own cream sauce with skim milk and flour and then adding the Swiss cheese. For the tang of the missing mayonnaise, I added apple cider vinegar instead of the white wine the recipe called for.

Since the chicken was the main ingredient of chicken divan, I even used two chicken breasts in my recipe. Since I’m not a huge meat fan, I normally only use one chicken breast no matter what the recipe calls for, especially in casseroles with other ingredients.

The finished product was a pretty good imitation of the original. The sauce tasted pretty close to what I remember and because of my extra chicken it was definitely meaty. I used a small head of broccoli and about a half a head of cauliflower and the addition of green crucifer made the casserole more colorful than the original Eating Well version.

And as with the best casseroles, it was definitely comforting. It’ll find a place in my ever-expanding recipe collection. It won’t be something I make every week, but when I need a little dish of cheesy goodness I have a couple recipes to choose from.

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