Chicken Divan Casserole is loaded with all things you love in a dish: roasted broccoli, cauliflower rice, a “cheesy” and delicious sauce, browned chicken bites, and topped with a nutty crunch. This simple dinner is hearty, kid friendly, and a much healthier version of traditional Chicken Divan!
If your childhood was anything like mine, casseroles were a fixture for family dinners. While they give us that comfort feeling just hearing the word, you may also get that skittish feeling that casserole means “loaded with canned crap”. I promise you, this casserole is anything but that!
After reaching out to many of you for what YOU wanted as we transition into late fall and colder weather, lots of requests for casseroles. My brain started working overtime thinking of some of my favorite casseroles. I decided I would take it back to one of the very first recipes I ever made as a married woman almost 15 years ago, Chicken Divan Casserole.
What is Chicken Divan?
Chicken Divan actually gets its origins from a restaurant in Manhattan called Divan Parisien Restaurant in the Chatham Hotel. It was a signature dish developed by the chefs that included a layer of broccoli, a decadent béchamel sauce, and chicken with a crunchy topping. Current variations of this dish included canned soup with crazy toppings such as ritz crackers or potato chips (Yikes).
How to Make Keto and Paleo Chicken Divan
My current version is nothing like the one I made early in my twenties. In fact, I am pretty sure I topped mine with some buttery crackers. This one is much healthier, yet still filling and decadent!!
- I actually begin this recipe by roasting the broccoli. Just to give it a head start!
- While the broccoli is roasting in the bottom of the casserole dish, we saute the cauliflower rice, and then the chicken pieces.
- In the meantime, I also made my “cheesy” sauce which is a dairy-free cashew sauce that is downright delicious! It includes soaked cashews, chicken broth, garlic, nutritional yeast, and dijon mustard.
- Now we combine the broccoli, cauliflower rice, chicken in the casserole dish
- We’ll now pour the sauce on top, and add some variation of crunch. I used chopped almonds, but any nut would work great. You can also add chopped plantain chips.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, and you have yourself one tasty dinner!
- You can sprinkle some parmesan cheese on top if dairy is tolerated. My kids loved this addition on their portion
- Feel free to swap out the nut used on top: almonds, pecans, walnuts, and even hazelnuts work well
- 2 cups of cooked rice or brown rice can be substituted for the cauliflower rice. I prefer the low carb version. Omitting the rice part altogether is also an option!
Chicken Divan Casserole
- 1 large head of broccoli cut into florets
- 2 tbsp avocado oil or olive oil divided
- 4 cloves garlic, minced divided
- 12 oz riced cauliflower*
- 1/3 cup diced white onion
- 1.5 lbs chicken breast cut into bite sized pieces
- 1 cup raw cashews**
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1 tbsp dijon mustard
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 cup chopped almonds
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a 9x13 casserole dish. Line the bottom with broccoli florets and brush 2 tsp of oil on top.
Once the oven is hot, transfer the casserole dish with broccoli to the oven. Cook for 17-18 minutes, leave the oven hot once broccoli is removed.
Heat a large skillet to medium high heat. Once hot, coat the pan with 1 tbsp oil then toss in the onion and 2 cloves garlic. Saute for 3-4 minutes, then add the cauliflower rice. Continue to cook the cauliflower rice until fragrant (about 5-6 minutes). Remove the cauliflower rice from heat, keep the skillet hot.
Add the remaining oil to the skillet, and cook the chicken until browned on all sides (about another 5-6 minutes). Remove from heat.
Meanwhile, make the cashew sauce. Place the drained cashews, chicken broth, nutritional yeast, dijon mustard, remaining garlic cloves, and salt to a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth 2-3 minutes. You may need to pause and use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides. Add an additional tbsp of water if the sauce is too thick.
In the casserole dish with the broccoli, mix together the chicken and cauliflower rice mixture. Pour the cashew sauce on top. Sprinkle with chopped almonds.
Bake for 22-25 minutes or until the nuts are golden brown and the sauce is bubbly. Serve hot.
*You can use 12 oz store bought riced cauliflower. Or, cut 1 large head of cauliflower into florets, and pulse in a food processor to create rice.
**Pre-soak the cashews in boiling water for at least 15 minutes before making the sauce. Drain the water.