A chicken vegetable casserole is a baked dish that is served hot and contains sliced chicken, a variety of vegetables and a topping such as bread crumbs. It might also contain cheese and other dairy products. Like other types of casserole, chicken vegetable casserole often forms the main course of a dinner and is served with side dishes. It can be made quickly without much advance preparation, making it a popular dish for busy families. Cooks also can change the ingredients to make different varieties of chicken vegetable casserole.
The combinations of vegetables that cooks put in chicken vegetable casserole are endless. Some easy recipes call for frozen vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, peas and corn. Others call for freshly chopped vegetables that require slightly more preparation, such as onions, carrots, mushrooms and tomatoes. Spinach, either fresh or frozen, also can be added to the casserole. The baking process mixes the vegetables with cheese and other flavors, making homemade casseroles popular ways for parents to get their children to eat vegetables.
Cooks prepare chicken vegetable casserole by combining vegetables with sliced or cubed chicken and some sort of binding agent, which also provides flavor. Many recipes call for butter, milk, flour and cheese, which congeal and hold the casserole together when baked. Cooks also can put grated cheese on top of the casserole, as well as bread crumbs. For extra flavor, chicken vegetable casserole typically contains salt, pepper, Parmesan cheese and other spices, such as rosemary, oregano or garlic powder.
Chicken vegetable casserole usually is made with cheese and milk, but there are recipes for low-fat or dairy-free varieties that modify or eliminate these ingredients. Cooks make low-fat casserole by using low-fat cheese and a small amount of oil instead of butter. They also can replace the bread crumbs with healthy crushed cereal. Dairy-free vegetable casserole usually contains low-fat margarine instead of butter and soy cheese instead of regular cheese.
The flavors in a chicken vegetable casserole can be enhanced or modified. Cooks can add chicken broth or chicken stock to give the dish a meatier flavor. They also can add white wine to make a more elegant tasting casserole that is appropriate for a fancy dinner party. Another classy addition is a fancy cheese, such as asiago or brie. A cook also can enhance the dish's flavor by adding sauce, such as Worcestershire sauce or barbecue sauce.