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Chicken, Broccoli & Sprouted Brown Rice Casserole {Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free}

A dairy-free re-creation of the chicken and rice casserole I grew up on. This Chicken, Broccoli & Sprouted Brown Rice Casserole is creamy + delicious without any dairy! Cashew cream replaces the tried and true cream of chicken soup. Chicken bone broth brings the flavor, along with garlic, onions, and fresh herbs. Sprouted brown rice ups the nutritional content, along with easier digestion!
Course: Dinner, Entree
Cuisine: dairy-free, gluten-free
Keyword: broccoli, brown rice, brown rice casserole, chicken, chicken thighs, sprouted brown rice
Author: Alicia Raymond

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw cashews/cashew pieces
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil +more for drizzling on chicken
  • sea salt + pepper
  • 1 cup sprouted brown rice
  • 1 3/4 cup chicken broth (bone broth is best)
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth (bone broth is best) for cream sauce
  • 1/2 cup chopped red/white onion
  • 4 cloves peeled garlic, divided
  • 1 med-large head fresh broccoli
  • 7 sprigs fresh thyme (about 1 tbsp roughly chopped)
  • 2 cups packed baby spinach, washed (I prefer to wash even though it says pre-washed because it has a weird flavor if it's not washed).
  • chopped fresh parsley for sprinkling on top

Instructions

  • Soak cashews in warm water for at least an hour (longer is better) with a little sea salt.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place chicken thighs on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper (important). Drizzle with EVOO and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for about 20 minutes or until internal temp reaches 165 degrees. Once finished cooking, set aside to cool. Save the parchment as you will use the drippings from it. Leave oven on at 375.
  • While chicken is cooking get your rice going. Boil 1 cup rice (I rinsed mine due to being in bulk bins but if your rice is sprouted you may not need to do this. Follow package instructions) with 1 3/4 cup chicken broth. Once brought to a full boil, reduce heat to simmer, and simmer with the lid on for 30 minutes. Once done, remove from heat and rest for 10 minutes, with the lid on. Then fluff with a fork and set aside.
  • Steam broccoli while rice is cooking. Bring a large pot to a boil with a little bit of water, then place the steam basket in the pot. Wash and cut broccoli into large stems/groups of stems (with a good amount of stem is good). Place broccoli into pot and steam for about 10 min until on the firmer-side of fork-tender. Once finished steaming, place broccoli on cutting board and let cool.
  • Next, make the cashew cream sauce. Add 1/2 cup chicken broth to the high-speed blender with cashews, along with one clove of garlic and a pinch of sea salt. Blend until silky-smooth.
  • Now it's chopping time. Chop onion, if haven't already, mince the remaining 3 cloves of garlic + de-stem thyme and give a rough chop. Chop broccoli florets into small bite-sized pieces. Chop the stems as well into small pieces. Also, shred chicken into bite-size pieces (you could use two forks but I preferred to just use my fingers, making sure the chicken is cool enough to handle. The chicken comes apart pretty easily). Set all this aside, along with 2 cups washed and dried baby spinach.
  • Heat a large 12-inch cast-iron ( I used a smaller one and it was really hard to stir all of the ingredients in the end) or another skillet to medium-high heat. Add 1 tbsp EVOO and onion. Turn heat down to medium and saute for about 3 minutes. Then add garlic and saute for another minute. Remove pan from heat.
  • Grease a 4-quart casserole dish, or 9x5 pan with the drippings from the chicken. Use the parchment paper as a funnel. You could use a pastry brush for this but I just used my good ol' handy fingers. If you don't have any drippings for some reason you can use EVOO. The drippings add good flavor.
  • Now it's time to add everything together. Add the chicken and rice to the skillet. Pour the creamy cashew sauce over the rice and sprinkle on the thyme, along with a pinch of salt and pepper. Add any leftover drippings and "brown/not burnt crispy bits for flavor. Now add in the spinach, along with a sprinkle of salt and pepper (layer flavors as you go!). Save the broccoli for last so that it doesn' t get too broken up. Give a taste to make sure it's not too salty, if not, add a bit of sea salt and pepper to the broccoli as well. Make sure all ingredients are combined.
  • Place mixture in a casserole dish and push down with the back of wooden/another large spoon to flatten a bit. Don't worry about making it too flat.
  • Cover with foil and bake at 375degrees for about 30 minutes until heated through.
  • Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley + fresh ground pepper, if desired.
  • Enjoy!