Creamy casserole comfort food can be something that’s hard to come by in the gluten/dairy-free world. Last year around this time I made shared the recipe for my Dairy-Free Chicken Broccoli and Rice Casserole. It has been a reader favorite ever since!
This casserole borrows some of the flavor tricks (mushrooms, cashews, a dash of soy sauce) from that casserole. It was mostly born thanks to my favorite Creamy Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce and my favorite gluten-free tagliatelle noodles. Not only does the cauliflower sauce give this casserole and healthy cruciferous vegetable facelift, it also tastes so creamy and savory nobody will miss the dairy/cheese.
I top this casserole with a gluten-free bread crumb and homemade dairy-free parmesan cheese mixture. The dairy-free parmesan cheese is just 3/4 cup cashews, 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, and 3/4 teaspoon salt pulsed in the food processor until you have a fine powder. I use this for everything from pizza to rice dishes where I would usually use parmesan cheese. It is life-changingly delicious and really makes me feel like I’m eating cheese again.
I love cheese so so much. But unfortunately cheese does not love me! This casserole makes me oh so happy because it has the flavors I love, with food that is good for my body. The best part is my dairy and gluten-eating boys family love it too!
This is recipe is designed to be adapted to your allergy needs. If you have no food allergies and just want a delicious cauliflower sauce, use milk and the parmesan cheese. I personally can eat butter, so I use that along with the cashew cream and no parmesan cheese. The soy sauce may seem like an unusual ingredient, but it adds a delicious savoriness to to sauce! For the topping I use a homemade dairy-free parmesan cheese and gluten-free breadcrumbs. Again, if you can eat hard cheese use regular parmesan if you like. See the note below for how to make the dairy-free parmesan.
- 2 tablespoons vegan butter or olive oil
- 1/2 cup shallots, chopped
- 1/2 cup cremini mushrooms, chopped
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 head cauliflower, chopped roughly into 2-inch pieces
- 2 cups chicken stock + 1 cup for finishing the sauce
- 1/3 cup whole, raw cashews + 1/2 cup chicken stock (or 1/2 cup milk)
- 1/2 teaspoon gluten-free soy sauce
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, optional
- 2 tablespoons vegan or regular butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 medium (or 2 large) chicken breasts
- salt & pepper
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 8oz cremini mushrooms, chopped
- 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
- 1/2 cup dry white wine (or chicken stock)
- 12oz (1 1/2 boxes) gluten-free tagliatelle noodles
- 3/4 cup frozen peas, defrosted
- 1/4 cup Italian flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup gluten-free panko bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup dairy-free parmesan* (or regular parmesan)
- 3 tablespoons vegan or regular butter, melted
- Cover the cashews, if using, in boiling water and let them sit for 15 minutes while you prep the other ingredients.
- In a medium saucepan or dutch oven, heat the butter or olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and mushrooms and cook until softened, 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the cauliflower and 2 cups chicken stock. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce to a simmer then cover. Cook covered for 10-15 minutes, until the cauliflower is very soft.
- Drain and rinse the cashews. Place them in a high-speed blender with 1/2 cup of chicken stock. Blend (I use the whole juice setting) until completely smooth. When the cauliflower is cooked, pour the mixture into the blender. Carefully blend on low until the mixture is totally smooth. Pour back into the pan and add the soy sauce and parmesan cheese, if using. Add the remaining cup of chicken stock and stir to combine. Season to taste with more salt if needed and plenty of freshly cracked pepper.
- Preheat the oven to 450F. Butter or grease a 13x9-inch baking dish.
- Heat the butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the chicken breasts generously with salt and pepper. Add the chicken and cook on each side for 5-6 minutes, until cooked through. Transfer to a plate to cool, then shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces.
- In the now empty pan, add another tablespoon of butter/olive oil if needed. Add the onion and mushrooms. Cook until very soft, about 7-9 minutes. Add the garlic and thyme. Cook for 30 seconds then add the wine and simmer until it evaporates, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.
- Meanwhile, cook the noodles until just undercooked, about 5 minutes in salted boiling water. Drain and lightly rinse the noodles to remove some of the starch.
- Mix the cauliflower sauce, noodles, shredded chicken, mushroom mixture, peas and parsley together. Pour into the baking dish. Mix together the topping ingredients, then sprinkle over the top. Bake uncovered for about 25 minutes, until hot and bubbling. Let sit 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!
*For the dairy-free parmesan: In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together 3/4 cup cashews, 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, and 3/4 teaspoon salt until you have a fine powder. I use this for everything from pizza to rice dishes where I would usually use parmesan cheese!
*I love use the gluten-free tagliatelle noodles I've linked to above. They are the best gluten-free noodles I've found (unsponsored).
*Unfortunately gluten-free noodles don't hold up as well as regular noodles. To make this dish in advance, you can make the sauce, chicken, and mushroom mixture and store in the refrigerator. Wait to cook the noodles and mix everything together just before baking. The noodles will turn to mush if this is assembled too far in advance.