So, the base to a good casserole is definitely “cream of something” soup. Cream of chicken, cream of mushroom – you could even use cream of celery (blech) if you want.
Growing up, there were a couple different casseroles we’d make – one that we’d make up as we went along and one that had an official recipe and an official (yet forgotten) name.
For a while, my older sister and I would be responsible for making dinner for all the kids when our parents went out. And that would typically result in us whipping up some sort of casserole, using up random vegetable leftovers, some mashed potatoes, french fried onions, some sort of protein, cheese, and definitely a can of cream of something soup. Not saying that this was healthy in any way, but it was tasty.
And then there was this other casserole with chicken and vegetables that I don’t even know the official name to, but it was my favorite. My siblings and I always got to choose what Mom made for dinner on our birthdays, and this casserole was my choice for a solid at least 10 years. Thus, this dairy-ful goodness was deemed “Lauren’s Birthday Casserole” (and is still known as such).
Fast forward several years. I’m in college, and I rediscover just how allergic to dairy I am (and not just lactose intolerant), which drastically reduces the number of Lauren’s Birthday Casseroles in my life.
Fast forward to a couple weeks ago. I had a package of mushrooms in my fridge, some cooked rotisserie chicken, and a head of cauliflower. This combination just screamed for experimentation to see if I could create a dairy-free version of my namesake casserole.
And it worked!
The biggest challenge was creating a dairy-free cream of something soup, which isn’t much different than making a white gravy (like for sausage gravy).
- 1 package mushrooms
- Butter (or whatever fat you prefer)
- Almond Milk, original (or whatever original alternative milk you want)
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- Salt and pepper
Chop your mushrooms pretty fine (I diced mine, than ran my knife through them again to get them a little smaller). Throw your mushrooms into a skillet over medium heat with about a tablespoon of butter and a sprinkle of salt. Saute your mushrooms until the mushroom juices have cooked away.
Sprinkle flour on top your mushrooms (I probably used between 1/4 and 1/3 of a cup). Stir and cook for a minute or so to remove the raw flour taste.
Trade whatever utensil you were using for a whisk. Start slowly pouring your milk in while whisking constantly. After you have about a cup or so of milk in the pan, pause pouring and wait for it to thicken (remember to keep whisking!). Throw in your sprig of thyme, then keep slowly adding more milk until you’re happy with the thickness of the soup. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Check back soon for the full recipe for Lauren’s Birthday Casserole!