I combined two Vegan Mofo projects for today: Retro Saturday, which for me means a casserole, and veganizing and old family recipe. One of our favorite dishes growing up was this broccoli chicken casserole that my mom made that had a little curry flavor. It’s so old school that my mom doesn’t need the recipe that is handwritten in the little plaid notebook. But I needed to read it so I would know what I was trying to accomplish. I read the recipe and …
This needs a serious makeover. It needs so much help, it could belong on one of those extreme makeover reality TV shows. It wasn’t just the chicken and cheese that needed to go, it needed a complete remodeling to make it even remotely healthy.
The Original Version:
about a pound ? of cooked chicken
3 C ? of cooked broccoli
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1/2 C shredded cheddar (optional)
1 C buttered bread crumbs
1/2 C mayonaise
curry powder and lemon juice to taste
The broccoli and chicken were layered in a casserole dish. The curry and lemon juice was mixed into the soup and poured over the casserole. The mayo was layered on top next, followed by the cheese. Topped with bread crumbs, into the oven it went for an hour. I’m guessing about 4-5 servings.
Estimated Nutrition Damage: (per serving)
Chicken: 165-205 cal, 4-5g fat, 1g saturated fat, 100mg. cholesterol
Soup: 45-55 cal, 3g fat, .5g saturated fat
Cheese: 45-55 cal, 3.5-4.5g fat, 2.5-3.0g saturated fat, 12-15mg cholesterol
Mayonaise: 145-180 cal, 20-25g fat
Butter: 20-25 cal, 2.5g fat
Calories from Fat: 300-369
Percent Calories from Fat: 70%
Obviously, these are very rough estimates, as my mom never really follows the recipe, so without actually following her around the kitchen with a scale, it’s hard to be sure. But it doesn’t change the basic nutrition: no starch, lots of protein and cholesterol, and the vast majority of calories from fat. Changing the measurements won’t change the facts that cheese is 70% fat, mayo and butter are 100% fat, and the soup is 55% fat. A couple cups of broccoli can’t undo all of that. For those of us who strive to follow the heart disease reversal recommendation of Drs. McDougall, Esselstyn, and Ornish, total fat content should be around 10%.
So, Can It Be Done?
Can the basic casserole structure and curried broccoli taste be kept while the nutrition is improved?
For Version 1.0, the Answer is a Qualified Yes
It needs some work and fine tuning, but here is how I handled it:
I thought about buying or making chicken flavored seitan, but decided against it to keep it simple. First, I had to fix the starch problem. I started with a layer of cooked whole wheat pasta elbows. I mixed in a can of chickpeas. (I have decided that chickpeas are the “chicken” of the legume world, it seems that you can do anything with them.) To replace the soup, I made a Cream of Celery soup to which I added chicken like seasonings, a pinch of celery seed, sage, thyme and rosemary. To replace the mayo, I made a tofu mayo. I layered everything into the casserole and it came pretty close. Since the cheese was optional, I didn’t bother to replace it. The taste was similar to the lemony curry that I remember, but without all the grease.
What Didn’t Work:
I used too much pasta, and not enough soup, so the sauce didn’t really penetrate.
I overdid the curry, which was a pretty spicy blend.
The tofu mayo turned into more of a dry custard consistency in the oven. My sister warned me, but I forgot.
It tasted good, but I think I can get closer by making more soup/sauce, and either eliminating the tofu mayo, or mixing it in deeper, rather than layer it on top.