Sometimes a person just needs a healthy meal that they can pull out of the freezer and pop into the oven. Over the next few days I’m going to need that kind of meal every night, because we’re moving! My husband and I bought our first little starter home and we’re both so happy, but with all the excitement of a big life event like moving into a new home, making a healthy dinner easily becomes a hassle. For that, I am armed and ready with freezer meals!
One of my favorite freezer-friendly meals is chicken divan. Although it’s a little bit of work to assemble, when made in large batches and then frozen, it’s a big time saver. Unfortunately, the traditional chicken divan recipe gets its amazing richness in part from none else than lots of mayo (not healthy). I have also seen recipes that replace the mayo with canned soups, which contain tons of sodium and artificial ingredients (also not healthy). This got me thinking about how I could make one of my favorite freezer-friendly (but unhealthy) dishes better for my family, and after experimenting with a few batches, I came up with today’s recipe for Light Chicken Quinoa Divan. It still maintains it’s rich deliciousness, while being considerably lighter. In addition, I added a healthy whole grain, which also fills hungry moving-day bellies!
Light Chicken Quinoa Divan
Prep Time: 35 minutes Cook Time: 40 minutes
- 1 C quinoa
- 2 C water
- 6 C broccoli florets
- 1 1/2 lb chicken breast
- 1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 C extra sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 C freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 2 Tbsp flour (or 2 Tbsp of arrowroot flour if avoiding gluten)
- 2/3 C white wine
- 1/2 C chicken broth
- 1 C milk
- 1 1/2 C light sour cream
- 1/4 C lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp plus 2 tsp yellow curry
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- olive oil cooking spray
1. Like many casseroles, this one involves prepping a bunch of ingredients, mixing them together, and then baking the dish with delicious results. To begin, rinse the quinoa, place it in a sauce pan with 2 C of water, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, cover, reduce heat to medium-low, simmer, and allow it to cook until all of the water is absorbed. This will take about 12 minutes. Note that it’s important to rinse your quinoa before cooking, otherwise it may have a slightly bitter flavor.
2. While your quinoa is cooking, cut your broccoli, place it in a pot so that it’s submerged in water, bring to a boil, and boil for 2 minutes. You will then drain off the hot water and submerge the broccoli in cold water until your are ready to use it. This will make it so the broccoli is not under-cooked or mushy in your casserole, but just right.
3. After you have the quinoa simmering and have begun bringing the broccoli up to a boil, cube your chicken breast into bite-sized pieces and brown over medium-high heat with 1 tsp of olive oil. You’re just browning, so your chicken shouldn’t cook through (no nibbling!).
4. At this point, your quinoa is just about ready to remove from the heat. Fluff with a fork and set aside. Your broccoli is also ready to place into a cold water bath. Set both aside until you’re ready to assemble your casserole.
5. Shred 1 cup each of extra sharp cheddar cheese and fresh parmesan.
6. All of your filling is now prepped, so it’s time to prepare the sauce that makes this recipe so delicious. First, Place 1 Tbsp of olive oil in a saucepan and heat over medium heat for 1 minute. Next, add 2 Tbsp of flour (or arrowroot flour), mix together, and cook for 1 minute. Now add 2/3 C of white wine and 1/2 C of chicken broth and whisk in with the flour and oil mixture. Bring the sauce to a simmer, continuously whisking, and simmer until the sauce has thickened. Add 1 cup of milk and continue whisking until the sauce begins to simmer again, and then immediately remove from the heat. Finally, mix in the sour cream, lemon juice, yellow curry and salt.
7. In a large mixing bowl, fold together all of your ingredients: quinoa, broccoli, chicken, shredded cheese, and your sauce.
8. Once combined, place your casserole mixture into a baking dish that has been sprayed with olive oil cooking spray.
9. Bake uncovered at 400º F for 35-40 minutes or until the casserole is bubbling all the way through. Allow the dish to rest for 5 minutes before serving.