Saturday, March 31, 2012

Try some Dairy-free Broccoli-Rice Casserole (with Tuna) to Warm Your Spirits!

Since I "went vegan" for Lent, I've had to come up with some rather creative dishes that are satisfying, but don't rely on dairy for that illusive "umami" flavor (oh, cheese, how I miss thee). When I came across this dish I was rather skeptical. I mean really--dairy-free broccoli rice casserole? That's gonna taste good?? Since I grew up eating this type of dish, whose base was prepared with a can of condensed (what's that?) cream of mushroom soup, I didn't have a lot of faith the coconut milk was going to suffice, but much to my surprise it turned out to be incredibly yummy! My beau agreed! Ok Ok so I may have cheated by adding some canned tuna, but hey there's nothing wrong with eating fish--it's dolphin-free dontchaknow.

Dairy-Free Broccoli-Rice Casserole (with Tuna)

Recipe loosely based on this one

1 head broccoli, chopped (frozen is OK, defrosted)
1 T olive oil
1 T flour
1 C low-fat coconut milk* (or unsweetened non-dairy milk)
1 C vegetable broth (or water)
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp dried thyme
Salt & pepper, to taste
2 C cooked white rice (brown is OK)
2 cans tuna, drained (optional)
Chile powder/paprika to sprinkle on top

*coconut milk is NOT the same as coconut water!

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a steamer or microwave, steam the broccoli until crisp-tender (if using frozen, defrost--no need to steam). In a saute pan, heat the olive oil. Whisk in the flour to make a roux (thickening agent for the sauce). Keep whisking for 30 seconds or so to cook the flour. Slowly add in the coconut milk and water, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Whisk in the spices and season to taste with salt and pepper (if the rice isn't seasoned, add extra salt to the sauce). The sauce should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, but not super thick else the casserole will be too globby (yes, that's an official term).

When the sauce is at the adequate consistency, stir in the rice, broccoli, and tuna (if desired). Pour into a greased baking dish and sprinkle the top with chile powder or paprika for color. Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes, until bubbly and sufficiently browned on top.

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