Chicken Divan is a casserole that’s been around since the 1950s and, surprisingly, it was actually developed by a New York City chef. I say that because, to me, it is far more reminiscent of Americana comfort food… the cream-of-something soup adaptations abound.
But at the end of the day, a creamy chicken and broccoli casserole is just good. Serve it over rice, mashed potatoes, egg noodles, alongside roasted green beans with a warm dinner roll, or just as it is. The latter of which is how this recipe came to be.
Back when I ran a squeaky clean Paleo blog, this Chicken Divan recipe was always a top-three. And it’s still included in the expanded and revised version of my cookbook, The Frugal Paleo Cookbook. (It’s really darn good, guys.)
Here’s why you’ll really like this recipe too.
Who cares if you’re Paleo or dairy-free or gluten-free… Anyone can appreciate swapping out the cream of whatever soup, mayonnaise, and sour cream that chicken divan is known for with a creamy sauce made from soaked cashews and chicken stock. Also, I add an uncommon ingredient: curry powder. Just wait until you taste it.
Because I wrote this recipe back in the Paleo days, I substituted the breadcrumbs, cheese, and potato chips with flaxseed meal as a topping. Visually, it helped polish the dish off with a toasted topping appearance, and nutritionally it offered a little boost of fiber. Win-win?
If you make this, I’d love to hear how it went.
Was this your first time making chicken divan? Are you someone from my Paleo days who are stoked to see this back online? How often do you make cashew cream sauces? What are the ways you like to use them? How’d you end up serving the dish? Let’s swap ideas in the comments below!
Also, if you’re curious what a you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me indulgent but proper recipe looks like, check out how Taste of Home prepares a version inspired by the original recipe.
For the Sauce
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 1½ cups water
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 cup white or yellow onion diced
- 1½ tsp curry powder
- ½ tsp coriander
- black pepper to taste
For the Chicken
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1 tbsp butter or olive oil
- salt and black pepper to taste
- 2 cups broccoli florets
- ¼ cup flax seed meal use breadcrumbs if not gluten-free or Paleo
- Soak the raw cashews in the water for a minimum of 2 hours (max overnight) at room temperature.
- Drain the liquid from the cashews and transer to a food processor.
- Add the garlic and onion to join the cashews in the food processor. Pulse to break down the ingredients down first. Then add the salt and spices, puree until smooth.
- Add the stock to the food processor and continue blending. Puree until the sauce is creamy and smooth. Season with black pepper, to taste.
- The Chicken Divan sauce is now ready. Set this aside.
- Heat a large skillet to medium-high heat and add the butter or olive oil.
- Once hot, place the chicken thighs into the pan and season one side with your preferred amount of salt and pepper.
- Cook for 3 minutes on the first side, then flip.
- Add the broccoli florets over top the chicken–don't mix. Cover the pan and reduce the temperature to medium-low. The broccoli should steam like this for 3 to 4 minutes, or until lightly steamed but still crunchy.
- Pour the reserved Chicken Divan sauce and carefully pour it over the broccoli and chicken. Gently combine.
- Increase the heat to medium and continue to simmer, uncovered, for at least 5 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened slightly.
- Just prior to serving, top everything with the flaxseed meal (or breadcrumbs if you don't need to be gluten-free or Paleo) and serve directly from the skillet.