Dairy and I don't always get along. So when I found myself craving a classic casserole dish the way my aunt used to make, I turned to Google with a pretty sanguine disposition, searching for variations. Over the years I've found and tried many dairy-free recipes with great success -- one of my all time FAVORITES being Creamy Vegan Mac & Cheese from Vegan Yumminess. I've used it as a queso dip, taco filling, and of course, for its original intended purpose: as a way to enjoy mac and cheese without bloating and discomfort. Featuring ingredients like potatoes, carrots, onions, cashews, nutritional yeast, and cayenne pepper, it is deserving of its "creamy" description with its thick and full mouthfeel, and rich flavor.
Now, call it what you want. Call it "creamy veggie sauce" if that sits better with you than the idea of dairy-free "cheese" sauce does... but whatever you do, don't let cheese-bias get in the way of your experiencing something delicious and new.
Where was I going with this? Oh yeah.
Given Google's track record, I thought for sure there'd be several recipes from which I could choose. What I found was to the contrary. The options I saw were not variations of "classics," but quinoa-laden, tofu-topped, really pushing-the-limits kinds of casserole. While that might sound appealing to me at some point down the road, it wasn't what I was craving. I wanted that hearty combination of chicken, broccoli, rice, and "cheese." Anything else would have fallen severely short of fulfilling that desire. I quickly decided it was time to blaze the trail...to seize this window of opportunity and give the internet a taste of a little comfort food without the cheese. I knew I was onto something incredible the first time I tasted it. A couple of trials later, and I feel pretty confident you'll love it when you try it.
This recipe features the Creamy Vegan Mac & Cheese sauce from Vegan Yumminess. This is something that can be whipped up in 20 minutes from start to finish. Make it alongside your casserole, or a day in advance if you prefer to break up the steps.
Now, full disclosure for those with an intolerance or sensitivity: I took a shortcut by using a pre-made cream of mushroom soup rather than creating my own "dairy-free" version. This is the ONLY ingredient in the entire recipe that contains dairy, and it can easily be substituted for a homemade dairy-free cream of mushroom soup if that's what you need to do.
Creamy Chicken & Broccoli Casserole (cheese-free)
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Yields: 8 servings
This recipe features the Creamy Vegan Mac & Cheese sauce from Vegan Yumminess. This is something that can be whipped up in 20 minutes from start to finish. Make it alongside your casserole, or a day in advance if you prefer to break up the steps. In order to make it, you'll need some additional ingredients (carrot, onion, potato, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, cashews, spices). Visit the link for more details!
1 Tablespoon Avocado Oil
2 cups fresh mushrooms, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1.5 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed into 1/4 inch thick pieces
2 garlic cloves, minced
10 ounce can cream of mushroom soup
2 cups "cheese" sauce from vegan yumminess -- ingredients listed in link
2 1/2 cups brown rice, pre-cooked
3-4 cups frozen broccoli thawed and chopped
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
Prepare your "cheese" sauce first following the recipe link provided above.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease a casserole dish using oil or cooking spray.
Set the stove-top to low-to-medium heat and drop avocado oil into a large pot. Add mushrooms and onions, cook for ~2 minutes until onions become translucent.
Add chicken and let cook for 6-8 minutes. No pink spots should be visible. Turn off the heat.
Add garlic, cream of mushroom soup, and "cheese" sauce, rice, broccoli, and pepper. Combine ingredients well.
Pour mixture into your greased casserole dish. Place in the oven for 25 minutes at 350 degrees.