Cauliflower: a companion for paleo chipotle chicken casserole
Many moons ago, when gluten and dairy were not an issue for me, I used to love making a chili cheddar pasta dish I’d found in Cooking Light. It was awesome – filled with noodles, milk, butter, and cheese. But, alas, no more.
As I transitioned to a whole foods way of cooking, I realized that it is often the flavor of a dish – not its supporting ingredients – that I remember most. In this case, the smoky chipotle, red peppers, and fresh cilantro are what really sang.
So, drawing on these ingredients and flavorful meats, and using cauliflower – which is a life saver for anyone who is really angling for a healthy carb alternative – as the base, we have a paleo-friendly Chipotle Chicken Cauliflower casserole that is perfect for a get-together or for a simple one-dish meal at home. And you don’t have to worry about missing a thing!
- This dish works great with leftover grilled chicken, but you can also pan-fry chicken pieces and then add the peppers, onions and garlic to the mix.
- Consider making extra bacon for breakfast. Keep several pieces aside for use in recipes; strain the grease and use it instead of cooking oil when making savory dishes. The flavor is fantastic.
- Cauliflower for this dish should still be reasonably firm. I prefer to steam it for about 10 to 12 minutes, just to the point of tenderness. You could steam it longer and mash it like you would potatoes. Keep in mind that it will continue cooking in the oven.
- Does the mixture seem dry to you? Before adding the mixture to your casserole to bake it, stir in a couple tablespoons of water.
- 1 large head of cauliflower
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 cup green onions, chopped
- 1 tsp chile powder
- 1 tsp chipotle powder
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- Salt, to taste
- 2 chicken breasts, grilled and chopped
- 6 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped
- 3 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
- Olive oil or bacon fat for sautéing
- Cut cauliflower into florets. Steam over boiling water for about 12 minutes, until it florets are tender but not mushy. (Note: this is a good time to cook up your chicken and bacon if you haven’t already.)
- Preheat oven to 375 degree F.
- Heat frying pan to medium high heat. Add olive oil or bacon fat and red peppers. Sauté for 3 minutes. Add green onions and garlic and sauté for 2 minutes longer. Set aside.
- Cut cauliflower into ¾ inch chunks and place in a large mixing bowl. Stir in chile powder, chipotle powder, cumin, and salt until well blended. Stir in red pepper mixture, chicken chunks, crumbled bacon, tomatoes, and cilantro.
- Pour mixture into a lightly greased casserole dish. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes, or until heated through and the top is golden brown.