This is a comfort food dish analagous to chicken divan. Over time, I've been developing it as a main dish casserole recipe. While I don’t feel that it’s in its final format yet, it is yummy. It makes good use of leftover
turkey or chicken and leftover mashed potatoes. You could also use leftover vegetables in this so long as they were cooked tender crisp to start with, as otherwise they might end up too mushy.
I've tried to lighten this recipe while maintaining flavor. While I won't call the result low cal, it is lower in calories and fat than most traditional divan recipes. I hope you like it.
- a range (oven plus cooking surface) and potholders
- strongly suggested: an oven thermometer
- microwave oven
- cleanup materials: sink, paper towels, soap for your hands
- some kind of timer
- sharp knife
- cutting board
- wooden spoon (or whatever you plan on stirring with)
- large saucepan or frypan; nonstick helpful but not necessary; a lid is helpful but not necessary
- 1.5 to 2 liter lidded Corningware dish, Pryex bowl with plastic wrap to seal it, or something else of similar size that is has a lid and is microwave-proof
- 9" x 13" Pyrex casserole, or something similar
- microplane or other tool to grate cheese
My recipes tend to be formulae rather than precise specifications, so please substitute or omit as needed.
- 8 ounces (~265 g) mushrooms, any sturdy variety; stems removed (save for another use) and sliced
I used small white button mushrooms, but criminis or shitakes would also work.
- approximately 1/2 onion, any type (I used a red onion); chopped fine
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml) crushed red pepper; smash with your thumb in the palm of your hand just before using
- 4 large cloves garlic; smashed and minced fine
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) extra virgin olive oil
- additional olive oil, or a nonstick pan spray
- sea salt if you can get it (otherwise, table salt), to taste
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1.5 to 2 pounds (454-908 g) broccoli crowns (organic if possible); trimmed and separated into florets
If you can’t get crowns or don’t wish to pay for them, buy regular broccoli, trim off the florets, then with a veggie peeler or paring knife, peel the tough green outer skin off to reveal the soft white centers, and slice the centers into discs.
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) unsalted butter
Use salted butter or margarine if you must, but cut back on salt elsewhere.
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) all purpose flour
- about a half dozen gratings of fresh nutmeg
Please don’t use pre-ground nutmeg. Buy yourself a nutmeg "house" (aka grater) and a jar of whole nutmegs. Keep one nutmeg in the house and the rest of the jar in your freezer.
- 1/2 to 2/3 cup (125-150 ml) Parmigiano Reggiano, otherwise known as Parmesan cheese; grated fine and divided into two equal portions
If you are still using that nasty stuff in the green can, do yourself a favor and throw it out! Buy yourself a big block of the good stuff. The real McCoy costs about $18-$20 a block in 2004 US dollars, and Argentinean Parmesan runs $8-$10 a block and is almost as good. Either way, it beats the living daylights out of the stuff in the green can. Keep it well wrapped in your refrigerator and it will last for months. Scrape off the mold once in a while — formation of mold is normal and won’t hurt the cheese. You can also freeze Parmesan if you cut it into 1/2 pound (225 g) chunks and wrap it well. Thaw in the refrigerator and use promptly.
Do yourself another favor while you’re at it: Gift yourself with a microplane rasp (approx. $20). It’s a wonderful, extremely sharp rasp which can zip through Parmesan (and other things) in mere seconds with negligible elbow grease. I got mine about two years ago and now I can’t figure how I ever survived without it.
- 1 cup (250 ml) chicken broth or stock
- 1 cup (250 ml) milk; I use skim milk, your mileage may vary
- one boneless half of a cooked whole turkey breast (i.e. one breast side of the bird) –- or -- a chicken equivalent would probably be 3 to 5 cooked boneless breasts, depending on how large they are; sliced 3/8" to 1/4" (4-6 mm) thick.
If the breasts are small, try to slice on the bias in order to increase the slice's surface area. I try for a slice roughly the width of 3 or 4 of my fingers as held together, or larger.
- (optional) approximately 1.5 to 2 cups (375-500 ml) of leftover mashed potatoes
- (optional) 1/2 cup (125 ml) silvered almonds or other nuts
Note: Be careful of your salt. The mashed potatoes might be heavily seasoned, so go lightly at first and correct afterward if needed.
- Preheat oven to 350°F (190°C / gas mark 5). If you don't have an oven thermometer, allow 20 minutes for heating. Rub or spray the casserole dish with a very light coat of oil.
- Place broccoli in Corningware dish with about a tablespoon of water. Season very lightly with salt and pepper. Microwave on HIGH for approximately 5 to 6 minutes. Broccoli will not be done. Drain it well.
- Heat the 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of extra virgin olive oil in the frying pan over medium heat. Add the red pepper, stirring until it sizzles a bit. Add the mushrooms, onion and garlic. Season very lightly with salt and pepper. Fry, stirring frequently (reduce heat if necessary) until the mushrooms have lost volume and they and the onions are beginning to become very slightly brown, 6-10 minutes.
- Add the 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of unsalted butter to the pan and allow it to melt. Stir in the flour and nutmeg. Stir constantly until all the flour is soaked up by the butter and oil.
- Add in the stock and milk. If you lowered the heat before, bring it back up to medium. Continue to stir constantly until the mixture comes to a boil and thickens. Add the mashed potatoes and half the Parmesan cheese, lower heat slightly, and stir gently until hot and well blended. Turn heat off. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Cover and keep warm.
- Layer meat and broccoli in alternating overlapping rows in the casserole. Pour the roux/cheese blend gently over the top. Sprinkle the top with nuts, if you’re using them, and the remaining Parmesan cheese.
- Bake uncovered for 30 minutes, then peek. If it’s not golden brown and delicious yet, let it keep on going for another 5-10 minutes, checking frequently.
- Let rest 5 minutes before digging in.
Sanitation and storage
- Let the casserole cool down well before refrigerating any leftovers.
Assorted notes to myself for future development. Let the buyer, um, reader beware!
- More green.
- Less flour? Change from AP to Wondra? Or admix the flour with something else? Or do I want it at this consistency?
- Chopped fresh parsley added at the end of cooking?
- Mix second half of Parmesan with fine bread crumbs, or dried stuffing, or cornbread crumbs, as topping before baking?
yclept's suggestion: Use fresh bread crumbs for more lightness and crunch. Thank you!
- Bell peppers?
- Possible variation: Sweet Hungarian paprika
- Possible variation: Curry powder
- Possible variation: Omit cheese, halve volume of broccoli, use shitake mushrooms, add frozen snap peas (unthawed), bamboo shoots, carrot and celery slivers, a dab of tamari and oyster sauce… Oriental divan!? Well, maybe not…
Source and acknowledgements
- This recipe got its roots from a number of places including my imagination, but probably found its main emphasis here: http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recipes/recipe/0,,FOOD_9936_25387,00.html
- Information on mold care and freezing Parmesan cheese are from http://www.foodsubs.com/Chefirm.html
Enjoy, and Namaste!