Ok so I tried an even more lightened up version of Pinch of Yum’s cauliflower cream sauce a while back on this skinny mushroom and thyme pasta bake and it blows my mind! Seriously the possibilities are endless. I just hope I beat you to some of them so you’ll think I’m a genius. It’s been a total hit with my whole family. My kids and Ross ALL love it on pasta and say then can’t even tell it’s not our typical wing-it-homemade-alfredo. It’s seriously magic to me. And the macros are like NOTHING. I’ve been dying to experiment with it more but keep going back to pretty much the same thing… or all the things.. some pasta, tons of chicken, ALL the veggies.
But this time I decided to focus in on an old classic. But can I be real and tell you I didn’t know this was called Chicken Divan till I was like 30? In my house it was broccoli cheese casserole. Which is exactly what it is. But I’m loving that someone named it something so much more fancy so we can keep pretending we don’t make casseroles like our moms did.
OK but this is the kind of meal that BLOWS MY MIND because while of course I did less cheese than the old days, and I know I’ve got the sneaky cauliflower sauce in there instead of (ahem) canned cream soups (gasp), I sit down to a giant bowl of this and it’s everything I remember. Creamy, saucy, savory, cheesy, rich broccoli and chicken mixture with salty, toasty breadcrumbs on top. PURE comfort food. Takes me back to my birthday dinners (where I’d request this.) For real. I don’t know… so weird but it’s true.
But this comfort food has INSANE MACROS. I wish I’d taken a picture of my serving, it was more than 1/6th of this pan and it came to 15 carbs, and like 7.5 fat. MAGIC.
Growing up we’d eat it over rice or potatoes… And a few weeks ago I made it with twice the sauce and pasta all mixed in to bake together. But since I wanted more control over my macros, I kept it as is, and everyone chose their base. Pasta with extra sauce for the fam, cauliflower rice for me. Sometimes it weirds me out to eat cauliflower rice covered in more cauliflower… but just go with it.
Skinny Chicken Divan with Cauliflower Cream Sauce
For the Cauliflower Cream Sauce (this is a half batch of the original –make a whole batch if you like things saucier or want additional sauce to serve with an added starch. I included the halved portion for ease of importing the recipe if you’re a macro-counter.)
- About 1/2 head of cauliflower or one 10 oz bag of florets
- 4 cups chicken stock or enough to cover cauliflower in pot- only 1/2-1 cup added in sauce later
- 1/2 tbs butter
- 4 cloves garlic I use frozen dorot cubes
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1/4 cup milk I used fat free fairlife milk- best macros but it hardly matters in such a small quantity.
- 1 tsp curry powder optional if you like the flavor. I LOVE it, but Ross doesn’t, so I just sprinkled a bunch on my portion.
- 1 tbs fresh lemon juice
- For the Chicken Divan
- About 6-700 g of cauliflower cream sauce
- 4 cups chopped grilled chicken 530 g- I used my weekly bulk grilled chicken that I always have on hand. (Feel free to do more!)*
- 20 oz broccoli florets cooked according to package. I just buy the fresh in bags you can throw in the microwave.
- 2 oz sharp sheddar I used a yummy onion and chive one from Trader Joes (You could double the cheese and only add a few more grams of fat to each portion- if a portion is about 1/6th of a 9×13. If you’ve got room, that would of course be all the yummier! Of course you could use low fat if you like that too. I wanted something with more flavor.
- 1 large sandwich roll or any white bread chopped or broken into big bread crumbs- about 2 cups I used a 90 g bolillo roll
Make your Cauliflower Cream Sauce
- Bring 4 cups chicken broth to a boil in a large pot (or enough to cover the cauliflower). Add the cauliflower and cook, covered, for 7-10 minutes or until cauliflower is fork tender. Do not drain.
- While the cauliflower cooks, sauté the garlic and butter in a large nonstick skillet over LOW heat. Cook for several minutes until the garlic is soft and fragrant but not brown. You don’t want it bitter! Remove from heat and set aside.
- Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cauliflower pieces to your blender. Add 1/2 cup of the hot chicken broth, the sautéed garlic/butter, salt, pepper, curry, lemon and milk. Blend or puree for a few minutes until the sauce is very smooth. You can add more broth or milk depending on how thick you want the sauce. I prefer at least another 1/2 cup broth. Discard remaining broth. Set sauce aside.
** UPDATE– I’ve gotten lazy and it’s working: You can also just steam your cauli in a bag, whether you buy fresh or frozen, florets or even riced. I just steam in the bag as directions allow so it’s nice and soft… then throw it in the blender with my sauteed butter and garlic… and the rest of the ingredients. Just 1 cup of chicken broth! So easy! For the Divan
- Preheat oven to 350 and spray 9×13 with nonstick cooking spray
- Combine cooked broccoli (I salt it a little), chopped cooked chicken (you could also use shredded rotisserie chicken), and cauliflower cream sauce in a large bowl so everything gets coated (or do it directly in your pan if you can handle stirring there!)
- Sprinkle with *2 oz grated cheese (56g), and top with bread crumbs.
- Spray the top of the breadcrumbs with a mist of cooking spray, and sprinkle with kosher salt.
- Bake for 35 minutes uncovered.
- I made a WHOLE batch of cauliflower sauce (and this is a half). I used half the batch in our divan and that was perfect for us. But it wasn’t super saucy like a classic divan filled with sour cream and mayo. If you want it to be saucier, double this batch or reference the original over here. And then use as much as you see fit. Maybe even all of it! Especially if you’re serving it over a grain. Or make the whole batch and use only half of it for easy logging (if you log this directly from MFP the macros account for the recipe as is) …and then if needed, you can spoon more sauce over your serving and estimate a few more macros. It’s so light! For 100 grams of cream sauce, mine came to 2.9c/1f/1.7p. You also have the option in MFP to log just the “Lillie Eats and Tells Cauliflower Cream Sauce.)
- My kids ate it over pasta, and I had mine with cauliflower rice. So comforting and nostalgic!