When I was in High School ‘nostalgia’ was my favorite word.
I am not sure why. I didn’t have a particularly terrible teen-hood, or any part of my life, for that matter. I’m not even sure what I was ‘longing’ for. Perhaps it was my teenage-induced depression. Or perhaps my actual depression. But I used the word all the time.
Therefore, it is only fitting for this casserole recipe to be called ‘Nostalgically Creamy’. When we were little (well, still, for my brother), my Mum used to make what was called ‘Chicken Casserole’. Now, i know everyone’s mother made Chicken Casserole, but my Mum’s was the best. (or perhaps, the easiest).
It was one of the first meals I ever made for myself, and I made it consistently through college. It was cheap. It was filling. And it was nostalgic.
The casserole consisted of: chicken, egg noodles, sour cream, cheddar cheese, cream of mushroom soup, and frenches fried onions (which we called ‘Durkees’).
Even though I actually can’t or choose to not eat every single one of the ingredients for the casserole, I was nostalgically craving it the other day. So Nathan and I set out to make a rendition of it.
I knew I needed some base ingredients. I could use gluten free noodles. I could make a cheese sauce. But, I wasn’t so sure about cream of mushroom soup, other than I knew I couldn’t eat the original stuff. First, I went to the store, hoping to find a canned substitute. I found vegan versions. And I found gluten free versions. But none that were both. At that point, I knew I would have to make it myself, so I googled a recipe, (which you can find below), and bought the ingredients.
Then I headed over to the isle with the frenches fried onions. I knew they were terrible, but I wanted to add them, so badly.
Guess what. They have wheat in them. Now, I ‘cheat’ on dairy every now and then and pay the ‘stomach pain’ price, but the gluten price is much higher. And I just wasn’t willing to gamble. So I put them back.
And I felt defeated. It has seriously been a long time since food has made me feel defeated. I got the rest of the ingredients and sulked out of the grocery store. This was gunna suck.
But it didn’t. It was actually quiet good. It would have been way better with fried onion goodness – but maybe we will make some of our own next time. It isn’t an exact replica, by any means. And it could still use some work. But here it is, or, version one, at least.
[Nostalgically] Creamy Casserole [Vegan/Gluten Free]
- 8 oz gluten free noodles (shells, zitti, any, really) (this was half a bag of noodles for me)
- 1 potato, sliced in to thin rounds
- 1 small head of broccoli, cut in to small pieces
- 1/2 of one large onion, diced small (you’ll use the other half in the cream soup recipe)
- 1 recipe Cheese Sauce (without the salsa)
- 1 recipe Cream of Mushroom Soup
- Tofutti Sour Cream (optional)
- Sriracha (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees
- Put a large pot of water on to boil. Once boiling, add 8 oz of noodles and chopped broccoli. Cook until noodles are done. Drain.
- Meanwhile – mix together: onion, cheese sauce and cream of mushroom soup in a large bowl
- Add cooked noodles and broccoli to onion, cheese and cream soup mixture, stir well
- Pour into a 9×13 baking pan
- Top with sliced potatoes
- Bake until bubbly and potatoes are cooked through and crispy on edges (roughly 20 – 25 minutes)
- Serve warm topped with optional Tofutti Sour Cream and/or Sriracha
- Cover tightly and refrigerate leftovers. Adding sour cream or milk to leftovers keeps the from drying out when heating
So, that’s the casserole, nostalgically tugging at the heartstrings of my childhood. Drama, drama, drama.