EatingWell's Chicken DivanNearly all my favorite comfort-food recipes include a creamy sauce. But I can do without all the richness and calories.
Chicken Divan, a '30s-era casserole of sliced chicken breasts and spears of broccoli baked in a sauce of butter, flour, milk and cheese or canned soup, was one of these favorites that just cried out for a healthy, delicious makeover. My sister Katie, a recipe developer and food stylist at EatingWell, put her expertise to work on this comfort-food classic.
Luckily at EatingWell we've developed plenty of techniques for making "cream" sauces without the (heavy) cream. EatingWell's take on Chicken Divan is a perfect example of how delicious a lightened cream sauce can be. The "rescued" version has fat cut by 66 percent, sodium reduced by 33 percent and calories lowered by 40 percent, and yet it retains its luscious appeal and is true to the spirit of the original dish.
The fix is relatively simple:
- Rather than use canned creamed soup, we use low-fat milk and chicken broth thickened with flour as the base of the sauce.
- Then we add Parmesan cheese-it pays to buy the good stuff, because it has more flavor.
- In addition to lightening the cream sauce, we added more vegetables to this recipe to boost the nutrients and fiber. (See these 5 easy tips to get more fiber into your diet.)
Specifically we included 1 pound of chopped broccoli and 2 cups of sliced leeks. At EatingWell we typically prefer fresh vegetables, but in this case we call for chopped frozen broccoli. Frozen vegetables are convenient, not to mention nutritionally comparable to fresh vegetables in some cases. Plus, frozen broccoli helps get this casserole made in a hurry-the whole thing is prepped in just 30 minutes. Use leftover cooked chicken breasts, if you have them on hand, for an even faster dinner.
By Jessie Price
EatingWell food editor Jessie Price's professional background in food started when she worked in restaurant kitchens in the summers during college. She started out testing recipes for EatingWell and then joined the staff here full-time in 2004 when she moved to Vermont from San Francisco.