Wild Rice and Chicken Casserole

I won't lie, casseroles are not usually my favorite dish. Don't get me wrong I love the concept, but pans filled with creamed soup, cheese, and heavy pasta just doesn't sound appealing to me. So it got me thinking, "how can take the idea of a casserole and fit it into a healthy lifestyle?". Lucky for us I figured it out. I replaced the creamed soups with a vegan cheese sauce, used long grain wild rice, filled it with lean meats and vegetables, and flavored it with bold spices. This Wild Rice and Chicken Casserole, not just a filling and delicious meal, but dairy and gluten free as well. 

The best part is so much of this recipe can be interchangeable. Did you have a beautiful turkey roast last night? Use the left overs from that in replace of the chicken. Maybe you don't have any broccoli, not a problem, replace it with any hearty vegetable you have in your kitchen. Who knew health could be so convenient and comforting!

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups cooked chicken, cubed into one-inch pieces
  • 3 cups cooked wild rice
  • 6 tablespoons of olive oil divided
  • 4 tablespoons of tapioca flour
  • 2 1/2 cups of non-dairy milk (nut, hemp, rice, oat,etc.)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp tahini
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 Tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp minced onion 
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp dried mustard
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 medium white onion chopped
  • 2 stalks celery chopped
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 1 carrot peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 3 cups cooked chicken, cubed into one-inch pieces
  • 3 cups cooked wild rice
  • 1 cup of cherry tomatoes, halved

Directions

  • Pre-heat oven to 375F
  • Place the chicken and rice in a large mixing bowl and set aside. 
  • Next, make the vegan cheese sauce. In a small saucepan heat 4 Tbsp of the olive oil over medium heat and whisk in the tapioca flour. Once well combined slowly add the milk while continuously whisking the mixture. Once all of the milk is added, stir for another 30 seconds. 
  • Bring the mixture to a boil to allow it to thicken, then set heat to low.
  • Add the tahini, nutritional yeast, dijon mustard, rice vinegar, salt, garlic powder, minced onion, white pepper, onion powder, dried mustard, and nutmeg. Stir together and once well-combined remove from heat and set aside. 
  • In a medium saute pan, heat the remaining 2 Tbsp of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, onion, celery, broccoli and carrots. Saute until the vegetables begin to soften and become aromatic (about 5-7 minutes). 
  • Once the vegetables begin to soften add the smoked paprika and fennel seeds and allow to cook for 2 minutes longer and remove the vegetable mixture from the heat. 
  • Now combine all of your ingredients, the vegan cheese sauce and the vegetable mixture, in the large mixing bowl with the chicken and rice.
  • Pour mixture into a large 9 x 13 baking dish, and place the halved cherry tomatoes cut side up, on top of the casserole. 
  • Place in the pre-heated oven, uncovered, and allow to bake for 45 minutes. Remove casserole from the oven and allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving. 
  • Enjoy alone or with your favorite vegetable sides. 
anna mahoneyComment