It’s like broccoli rice casserole, but without the broccoli or rice. That’s the first description that came to mind when I made this. Or at least that is what I envisioned when I came up with the recipe.
I’m still not over riced cauliflower. Maybe the rest of the world is? I don’t know. But I love the stuff. I’m always stir-frying it into things. So last week I thought – why not stir it into things…and then bake it.
Alas, a casserole was born.
This is a great way to use up extra shredded chicken. I also threw in some chopped spinach because a few more veggies never hurts. It has a bit of cheese for creaminess, but I made the roux with stock instead of cream so that the meal isn’t super heavy. The grated Romano on the top is optional, but I like the tang it gives the whole dish. You could sub something like Gruyere or an aged gouda for a similar result.
When it’s piping hot out of the oven, it will look at bit thin, so let it rest about 10 minutes before you start scooping. It will thicken as it cools and personally I think the warmed up leftovers are even better the next day.
Riced Cauliflower Chicken Casserole
Makes 6 servings
What you’ll need:
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chopped yellow onion
16 oz. riced cauliflower
2 cups chopped spinach
3 cups cooked, shredded chicken
1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt, or to taste
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups chicken stock
8 ounces whole milk mozzarella, shredded or finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried dill
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
2 tablespoons freshly grated Romano cheese, optional
How to make it:
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add the onion and cook until it begins to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the cauliflower and cook 5 more minutes. Stir in the spinach and cook until it wilts, about 1 minute. Stir in the chicken, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of the pepper. Remove from the heat.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and grease a 9-x-13-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray (or butter, or oil).
Melt the butter over medium-high heat in a deep soup pot, like a Dutch oven. Sprinkle in the flour and whisk until a paste forms, about 1 minute. Reduce the heat to medium. Continue to whisk as you gradually pour in the stock. Keep whisking and increase the heat back up to medium-high. Let the sauce come to a simmer and it will begin to thicken. Cook for about 2 minutes, until it is thick enough to lightly coat the back of a spoon.
Reserve 1/4 cup of the cheese. Reduce the heat slightly and stir in the rest of the cheese, a little at a time, until it is completely melted. Remove from the heat and stir in the dill and dried mustard.
Transfer the chicken and vegetables to pot with the sauce and stir well. At this point you can add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper, but you might want to taste the casserole filling first. They type of stock you used and whether or not your chicken was previously seasoned will influence the need for the additional salt and pepper.
Pour the casserole into the baking dish and top with the remaining mozzarella and the grated Romano cheeses. Bake for 25 minutes, until bubbling and the top begins to brown. Let sit about 10 minutes before serving.