When I was little, one of my favorite dinners was my mom's Chicken Broccoli Casserole. It was a recipe she got from the back of a Campbell's Soup can, I think, but it was ultimate comfort food for me. When I stopped eating meat, she used to make the same dish only without the chicken. I took the recipe off to college with me and whenever I felt like I needed a taste of home, I'd make it.
Of course in more recent years I have been eating vegan as often as I can and I learned about yucky things like MSG that Campbell's uses in their soups and I stopped making the recipe for a while. I figured if it wasn't exactly the same, it just, you know, wouldn't be the same.
Then one day I was having a huge craving and decided to take the plunge and try it out with some healthier tweaks. Though I would still not consider this a "healthy" dish, it's a vast improvement from the version Mom used to make.
Chicken Brown Rice and Broccoli Casserole
2 tbsp vegan butter or margarine
2 tbsp flour (most of this recipe is gluten free. If you want, change this to AP GF flour)
2 cups unsweetened plain soy milk (I use WestSoy because their milk is simply whole soybeans and water, no extra crap like carrageenens and lecithins)
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
salt, pepper, garlic to taste
vegetable broth (for thinning sauce)
2 small or 1 large bunch of broccoli
2 cups brown rice
Saltines (I used GF ones)
More vegan butter
Drizzle of truffle oil (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook your rice according to the instructions on the package. I personally used this prepackaged Seeds of Change version with quinoa in it that just needs 90 seconds in the microwave (you can get a six pack of these at Costco). I love it and it's great as a side dish mixed with nuts and spices or even just on it's own. Also pictured are the Glutino GF saltines that I used. We'll get back to them later.
Trim and cut your broccoli into bite sized pieces and steam until just cooked. Mix broccoli and rice together and put into a prepared square casserole dish.
In a small saucepan on med-low heat, melt vegan butter. Whisk flour into melted butter. Slowly add soy milk, whisking as you pour. Add nutritional yeast and spices and continue whisking until the mixture begins to thicken. At this point, if your sauce is too thick, add vegetable broth, about 1/8 cup at a time. Pour the sauce over the broccoli/rice mixture and gently mix. Reduce heat to low and stir occasionally as you prepare the rest of the recipe.
With your vegan butter and your saltines, make little sandwiches. I like to be a little more funny with my food, so I made a giant multi-decker sandwich out of mine. Make as many or as few sandwiches as you prefer. It's your topping, so if you like more topping, get back to work. I used all the crackers I had here or else I would have had more. Topping is the best!
Now put the whole thing (or your individual sandwiches) into a baggie and crunch the heck out of it. You want lil' morsels here. At this point I added my truffle oil, just for an additional dimension of flavor ...and because it's friggin' delicious. I highly recommend drizzling truffle oil on anything you can.
Pour your crumbly morsels evenly over the top of your casserole. Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until the sides start to bubble and your crackers get all golden and crispy.
Take it out, let it cool a little bit and enjoy your MSG and dairy free comfort food!