When we travelled across our beautiful country in 2010 (was it that long ago!?), food was one of things I often recorded because food plays such an integral role in our daily lives. Food can bring back memories like nothing else. As a mom of three young ones, I am often observing how other families do mealtime and what kinds of foods are hits and misses. When we stayed with J’s cousin in Ottawa, I have a very clear memory of one particular day when their children came home from school and one by one came through the kitchen to ask what was for dinner. The answer was “chicken broccoli”. Each child smiled and said “yum!” at the answer. It was a wonderful thing to witness! Dinner that night was indeed chicken broccoli and it was really good, being a recipe I hadn’t had or cooked before.
Then I saw that Campbell’s commercial where two children are talking about their favourite meals and the boy says something in praise of Chicken Broccoli Divan. What is a divan? Could this be the same dish I have such a fond memory of? In searching for the recipe, I inevitably came upon many that were indeed including a can or two of condensed soup. We don’t eat a lot of canned soup in our house, preferring instead to make our own soups and sauces from scratch and wholesome, identifiable ingredients. Then I stumbled upon a recipe that doesn’t use canned soup. I had most of the ingredients on hand and with a few modifications came up with our own Chicken Broccoli “Divan”. It was easily doubled to make a second casserole to pop in the freezer. Gotta love that!
Chicken Broccoli and Rice Divan
adapted from Hundred Healthy Dinners
Chicken – whatever you have on hand (we used thighs)
4 cups chopped Broccoli – about 1 large head (my kids like the stem so I use that too!)
2 – 3 cloves of garlic (I used dried since I didn’t have any fresh!)
1/2 chopped onion
Bit of dried shallot – use fresh if you’ve got it!
1 yellow bell pepper – diced
Salt & Pepper and other spices to taste(ie dried basil and oregano)
A double recipe of cream of chicken soup (see below)
3(ish) cups of sharp cheddar – grated
1/2 cup bread crumbs or wheat germ or cracker crumbs
Cook rice according to directions. (I had leftover rice from the Hawaiian Beans)
Cook the chicken in a pan with a bit of butter and/or olive oil until no longer pink. You can season it with salt and pepper too. Remove it and set aside. Leave the drippings. If needed add a little more oil to the pan.
Add garlic, onion and shallots and saute for about 30 seconds. Add the broccoli, peppers, salt and pepper, and any herbs or spices. Splash a little bit of water and stir.
Cover for about 5-8 minutes until vegetables are slightly softened and flavorful.
While it’s cooking dice up the chicken and preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Combine the cooked rice and chicken with the vegetable mixture along with 2 cups of the cheese and the soup.
Put it into a greased casserole (or two!) and top with the remaining cheese and bread crumbs.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes until the cheese is melted and a little golden.
Enjoy a great oven to table meal sure to please even your pickiest kids!
Cream of Chicken Condensed Soup
from The Kitchn
makes a little over a cup, equivalent to one can of soup
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons white flour
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup milk
Salt and pepper
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat then add the flour. Cook, stirring rapidly, until the mixture is thick.
Add the chicken stock and whisk until smooth, then add the milk. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring, until thickened. Remove from the heat and add salt and pepper to taste.
This will keep for a couple days in the fridge, but it’s best to use it the day you make it.