Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Crunchy Chicken Poppy Seed Casserole (Gluten Free)

One of my grandmother's favorite recipes was for a chicken casserole with ritz crackers and poppy seeds. It was a buttery and delicious casserole that called for 2 sticks of melted butter, and 2 sleeves of crushed ritz crackers... oh it was heavenly! (Not to mention completely unhealthy!)

I had sort of forgotten about that casserole until a few weeks ago when I saw some ritz crackers. I just sighed. I knew I'd probably never taste that casserole again. I just couldn't think of any way to make a gluten free version. The only gluten free crackers we eat are nut based, like Blue Diamond Almond or Pecan Nut Thins. I thought about crushing those and putting them on top of the casserole, but I didn't think that would give the casserole the texture or taste I desired.

A few weeks ago my dear friend Clara sent me some almond flour. Almond flour is simply almonds that have been ground up so they have a flour-like consistency. If they were ground any finer they would be almond butter! At any rate, Clara raved about using almond flour in her own gluten free baking and cooking. She lives close to a Trader Joe's that sells this flour for a reasonable price and offered to send me some. I had to accept.

I have done SO much baking with this amazing almond flour!! I've used it in cakes, tarts, muffins, and now for several casseroles as a crispy topping!

The naturally healthy fats that are in almonds will slightly sweeten and crisp up beautifully during baking and create a wonderfully tasty, golden crust!! They were the perfect substitute for crushed ritz crackers in this casserole.

I have made this casserole healthier by drastically cutting the salt and saturated fats called for in the original recipe. I hope you will enjoy this recipe as much as I have!

This is the perfect recipe for leftover holiday chicken and turkey! Delicious!!

Carrie's Crunchy Chicken Poppy Seed Casserole

2 cups cooked chicken or turkey, cut into bite size pieces
2 cups homemade gluten free cream soup **dairy free alternative -- see below**
1 teaspoon gluten free chicken bouillon granules
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 garlic crushed garlic clove -or- 1 teaspoon garlic granules
4 ounces sour cream -or- **dairy free substitute -- see below**
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1 small can sliced water chestnuts, diced
1 can low-salt young peas, rinsed
1/2 cup carrots, sliced and cooked ** cooking instructions -- see below**
5 tablespoons almond flour/meal
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons poppy seeds


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Make gluten free cream soup as directed. Add 1 teaspoon of gluten free chicken bouillon, ground pepper, and a crushed garlic clove, or garlic granules. Mix sour cream into the cream soup mixture. Set aside.

Grease a 2qt (or larger) casserole dish. Place cooked chicken in the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle sliced almonds over the chicken. In a medium sized bowl mix rinsed peas, cooked carrots, water chestnuts together. Pour vegetable mixture over chicken and sliced almonds. Pour cream soup mixture over entire casserole.

Sprinkle almond flour/meal evenly over top of entire casserole. And pour melted butter over almond meal. Lastly sprinkle with poppy seeds.

Bake for 35-45 minutes until casserole is hot and bubbly! Let cool for 10 minutes before serving! We really loved this casserole!

Carrie's Notes:

** Dairy Free Substitute for sour cream: If you cannot use sour cream, use a non-dairy yogurt or thick coconut milk mixed with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. This will create the rich sour flavor that is truly unique about this casserole.

Cooked Carrots: Simply slice fresh carrots and place in microwavable bowl with 1/2 cup of water. Cook for 5 minutes to steam carrots. Drain water from bowl and add carrots to recipe!

For a non-dairy cream soup, simply use a non-dairy substitute for the milk. I think hemp milk would add a lovely mellow flavor to this casserole!

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I will be posting the 2008 GLUTEN FREE Christmas Cookie Round up on Monday December 15th, 2008. If you have a cookie you would like added to the roundup, please email me at
gingerlemon_girl (at) yahoo (dot) com.

Happy Holidays!!

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