Have you guys heard of chicken divan? It’s a very popular – some would say a classic – chicken casserole dish in America. It’s made with diced chicken, broccoli, creamy mornay-like sauce and almonds. I’ve never actually made the traditional version but I really like the sound of it and wanted to recreate a paleo friendly version.
Another reason I got attracted to the original recipe was its name ‘divan’, which in Russian means ‘couch’. So, whenever I see this casserole dish pop up, I think ‘chicken couch’ and it makes me giggle. The name, of course, has nothing to do with sofas and couches. The dish was named after the place of its invention, the Divan Parisienne Restaurant in NYC, where it was a signature dish created by a chef named Lagasi. In French, divan means a meeting place (I think).
My turkey divan casserole is an adaptation of the classic; it’s dairy-free and gluten-free, making it a perfect one-pot paleo dish. I’ve added a few more veggies and mushrooms so it’s not quite the classic anymore. My main focus was on creating a super tasty, cheesy-like sauce. With a few tricks and hacks I think pulled off a very tasty, creamy casserole dish.
It might not be the classic divan, but I really enjoyed it. It’s another perfect complete paleo meal!!!
Cook’s notes: Where the recipe calls for ghee, feel free to use olive oil. Chicken can be used instead of turkey. You can add other vegetables like asparagus and brussels sprouts instead of green beans. Nutritional yeast can be purchased in most health food stores and online – it’s a great flavour substitute to cheese and is high in B vitamins. Check out my faux cheese sauce recipe with nutritional yeast flakes here. The white sauce in this dish would work really well in a paleo version of the green bean casserole.
See step-by-step pictures below the recipe.
- ¼ cup cashew nuts
- ½ cup hot chicken stock (you can use hot water and add ½ cube of chicken stock cube)
- 1 tablespoon ghee
- 1 large brown onion, diced
- 4-5 medium button mushrooms, diced
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly cut
- 2 heaped teaspoon of nutritional yeast flakes
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 500 g / 1.2 lb dice turkey breast
- ¼ teaspoon white pepper
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ small head of broccoli, cut into small florets (or 5-6 broccolini stems)
- 100 g / 3.5 oz green beans, tails cut off and cut in thirds
- 5 medium button mushrooms, diced roughly
- 1 small zucchini/courgette, diced
- ¼ cup almond meal/ground almonds
- zest of ½ lemon
- 2 heaped teaspoons of nutritional yeast
- pinch of garlic powder
- pinch of salt
- Place cashew nuts in a cup with hot chicken stock or water with chicken stock powder, if using that. Leave to soak for 10-15 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 175 C / 350 F.
- Pre-cook the turkey: Heat coconut oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the turkey meat and fry for 2-3 minutes each side, until lightly browned. Season with pepper, salt and onion powder and stir through. Set aside. In the meantime, prepare the vegetables.
- Make the sauce: While the meat is cooking, heat the ghee in a small saucepan over medium heat and add the onion. Stir and cook for 4-5 minutes, until softened. Then add the mushrooms and salt and cook for a further 3-4 minutes, stirring a few times, until both are soft and golden. Once cooked, add the onion and mushrooms to a food processor or a high-speed blender. Add the cashews together with the stock, garlic, nutritional yeast and lemon juice. Blend on high speed until well pureed and smooth.
- Mix the crumbs ingredients in a small ramekin and set aside.
- Assemble the casserole: Add raw vegetables, mushrooms and pre-cooked turkey to a large casserole dish or an oven-proof baking tray. Pour the sauce over the top and stir through well. Sprinkle evenly with the crumbs mixture. Place the casserole dish in the oven, middle shelf, and cook for 20 minutes.