I have a friend, let's just call her Sally, who is going through a period of terrific angst at the moment. There is angst in her career, anxiety at home, and she's basically tied up in knots of gordian proportion all around. She was coming for dinner the other night and had specifically requested something cheesy and warming, to calm her frayed nerves. Problem was, she invited herself, and I didn't have time to go to the store. But no matter! I am the MacGyver of comfort foods. I quickly checked my cupboards and saw that I had rice and broccoli, as well as a pack of Quorn tenders. It is no secret that I am a fan of the mysterious Quorn. Anyhow, you could make this same thing with chicken, if you wish. My mind went instantly to a casserole, but I had no cheese, and only skim milk, which would amount to a pretty weak casserole, not at all what Sally required. Then I found, tucked behind my thousands of vinegars, exactly what I needed. Sally wasn't going to get some nasty broccoli mushroom soup casserole. No ma'am. For Sally, only the pseudo-French would do. Thus was born this conciliatory dish. Enjoy.
Panic Attack Casserole
Here I sauteed shallots and some of an onion in some butter.
And here's the part where I lightly steamed some broccoli.
Did you hear the one about when I threw this bag of something chicken-ish into the pan with the shallots and onions? No? Well, I also added a splash of vegetable stock!
I boiled 1 3/4 cup water and added 1 cup basmati, lowered heat, covered, and simmered for fifteen minutes which is a pretty standard way to deal with a cup of basmati.
Voila my secret ingredient! I made the "Bearnaise" according to the packet directions, and slopped the whole thing together because nobody was looking. If someone had been present for the event, I would have gingerly mixed all the ingredients, and used a nice wooden spoon to spread out the casserole in the dish, while wearing my adorable apron and listening to Edith Piaf.
I toasted a couple of slices of whole wheat bread, whizzed them in the processor, mixed with a little parmesan, olive oil, salt, and pepper, and sprinkled on top. Then I baked at 350 for about 20 minutes. Actually I don't know how long I baked it for because Sally arrived. I opened some wine and listened to her rant, cry, and hyperventilate simultaneously, which only made me drink more wine, and I totally lost track of time. Also I forgot to take a photo of the finished casserole, so the one above, taken after we ate, will have to do. Let me tell you one thing. That mofo was delicious. Sally left in good spirits, which may have been due to the wine, but I like to think my casserole helped.