Today I’m sharing a fabulous spin on a classic, comforting casserole – Healthy Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli-Rice Casserole!
Sauteed chicken, steamed broccoli, and fluffy brown rice are mixed with a homemade cheese sauce then quickly broiled for a fabulous, comforting meal. It’s kind of an “un-casserole” as you don’t have to let the dish bake in the oven, rather, everything is made right on the stovetop then tossed together in a casserole dish and quickly broiled.
I also tweaked a few of the ingredients from the standard Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli-Rice Casserole to make it a bit healthier. More broccoli, brown rice instead of white, plus the luscious homemade cheese sauce that brings everything together has less cheese, light sour cream, and skim milk. BOOM. This casserole ROCKS!
How to Make this Recipe
Start by cooking long-grain brown rice in chicken broth. Cooking rice in chicken broth gives it tons of flavor with minimal added calories. You could use white rice in here, but I love the hearty chew brown rice has, plus you get the whole grain benefits.
When the rice has 5 minutes left to cook, add fresh broccoli florets and chopped green onions to the pot, place the lid back on top, then let them steam until tender.
Meanwhile, cook chopped chicken breasts seasoned with garlic powder, salt, and pepper in a splash of extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat until cooked through. Remove the chicken to a plate then very carefully wipe out the skillet with a dry paper towel and turn the heat down to medium.
To the wiped-out skillet add gluten-free flour (or all-purpose flour if you don’t need to eat GF) whisked with milk (I used skim,) then pour in additional milk.
Stir the milk and flour mixture continuously until thickened and bubbly, 7-10 minutes, then remove the skillet from the heat and add shredded cheddar cheese, light sour cream, plus salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
Add the cooked rice and broccoli mixture plus the chicken then stir to combine and scoop into a 9×13 baking dish. Top with a wee bit more shredded cheese then broil until melted and bubbly. Let the casserole rest for 5 minutes, then scoop, plate, and devour!
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Healthy Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli-Rice Casserole
- 2 cups long grain brown rice
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 4 cups broccoli florets (about 1 head)
- 2 green onions, chopped
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1lb chicken breasts, chopped into bite-sized pieces
- salt, pepper, garlic powder
- 5 teaspoons gluten-free or all-purpose flour
- 2 cups milk, divided (I used skim)
- 1/3 cup light sour cream
- 8oz shredded cheddar cheese, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- Bring chicken broth to a boil in a large pot then add rice. Cover then turn heat down to medium-low. When rice has 5 minutes left to cook add broccoli and green onions on top to steam.
- Meanwhile, heat extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken, season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder, and then saute until no longer pink. Remove to a plate and set aside then very carefully wipe out skillet with a dry paper towel.
- Turn heat down to medium then whisk together flour and 1/2 cup milk in a small bowl. Pour mixture into skillet then add remaining 1-1/2 cups milk. Cook mixture, stirring constantly, until thickened, 7-10 minutes. Remove skillet from heat then add 3/4 of the shredded cheese, sour cream, salt, pepper, and garlic powder, and stir until smooth.
- Preheat broiler. Combine cooked rice and broccoli mixture with the cheese sauce and cooked chicken then scoop mixture into a nonstick sprayed 9x13 baking dish and top with remaining cheese. Broil until cheese is melted then let casserole rest for 5 minutes before serving.
This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.