This creamy, Chicken & Almond Cauliflower Rice Casserole is based on an old recipe I used to make for my boys when they were little. Part of the joy of cooking is finding new ways to enjoy old favourites. I've created a delicious dairy-free sauce and dumped the can of soup and milk that I previously used to make the sauce. Plus I've replaced starchy rice with cauliflower rice, making this a comforting healthy dish that is actually low-carb. The quantities I've used in the recipe will be easy to halve in case you prefer to make a smaller meal, also this dish reheats well and leftovers are perfect for lunches. The recipe is very versatile and forgiving if you would like to swap around different ingredients, check out my notes below.
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Firstly, prepare the creamy sauce and set it aside until required.
Add the cashews, coconut milk, water, nutritional yeast flakes, chicken broth powder, Dijon mustard, paprika, salt and pepper to a high-speed blender. Blend for 25 - 30 seconds or until smooth with no bits of nuts visible. It's quite a thin sauce but as it sits it will begin to slightly thicken.
Grease a 30 x 20cm casserole dish or similar. Preheat your oven to 180c (fan-forced).
Chop the cauliflower into equal-size florets and add half the cauliflower to a food processor and process for a few seconds to create rice size pieces. Repeat with the remaining cauliflower and set aside. If you would prefer to use frozen cauliflower rice, you will need to thaw it beforehand then place it between 2 tea towels and squeeze out the liquid.
Now on to the cooking. Add the ghee, onion and celery to a large 32cm deep-sided frypan over medium-high heat and saute, stirring often for 2 - 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and saute for a further 2 minutes then stir through the garlic.
Add the remaining tablespoon of ghee to the pan with the cauliflower rice and stir well to combine all the vegetables. Cook stirring often for 5 - 6 minutes until the cauliflower is cooked. Add the chicken and stir through the mixture.
Turn the heat down and pour in the creamy sauce and fresh parsley and combine well. Transfer the chicken and cauliflower rice mixture into the prepared dish. Spread out evenly and smooth the surface. Sprinkle the sliced almonds evenly over the top and lightly press them so they can stick a little.
Bake for 25 minutes or until heated all the way through and the layer of almonds on top are starting to go golden.
Serve with a salad on the side. Leftovers can be stored covered in the fridge for up to 4 days. Also suitable to freeze but best to store in portion sizes.
NOTES: I've used 500g of cooked chicken meat, equal to a medium-size whole cooked chicken with skin, drumsticks and wings removed. 700g of raw chicken breast steamed also cooks down to 500g but you can add as much protein as you like. This recipe is quite forgiving if you want to play around with the ingredients. You can even skip the chicken if you prefer and add extra vegetables, or swap out the chicken broth for vegetable broth. If your kids don't like mushrooms replace them with another cooked vegetable, broccoli also works well in this dish. If your family consumes dairy you could also add some grated cheese, stir it through at the end.
Cashews work well in a paleo lifestyle, as they are so versatile. They can be used to make dairy free milk, cashew butter, cashew cream or sour cream, dips and many more. Where possible, it is best to soak nuts before using to assist with digestion. Eat them raw but in moderation as they are quite high in omega 6. Stay away from store bought roasted nuts that have been cooked in canola, sunflower or similar vegetable oils.
I use this extensively throughout my recipes; from soups to dinners to desserts and cakes. I think it is the best dairy-free alternative. It gives so much flavour and creaminess to a wide variety of dishes. See coconut milk recipe on page 299 of The JOYful Table cookbook. If purchasing in the can read your labels, even some organic brands contain gums and thickeners, choose full-fat not low-fat versions. I use Honest To Goodness organic cream 400ml and Ayam which isn't organic but has no additives or thickeners and is much creamier and thicker than other brands (that's why I love it), it comes in 400ml, 270ml and 140ml size cans.
I feel it's much better for our health if we filter our water. Our tap water contains disinfectants, chlorine and chloramine. Also floride is add which I believe is toxin to our bodies.
Also know as Savoury Yeast Flakes. It’s a fermented and deactivated yeast, which means it isn’t going to grow (and has nothing to do with brewer’s yeast or bakers’ yeast). It has a creamy cheesy flavour and I’ve used it in a few recipes to create a cheese flavour. Vegans use it as a condiment and a cheese substitute, and to also add additional protein and vitamins to their diet (it’s a complete protein). Nutritional yeast flakes are free from sugar, dairy, grains and gluten. Do not confuse it with yeast extract (MSG). Purchase from health food stores or in the health food aisle of supermarkets.
Making homemade chicken broth is a great way to heal Leaky Gut and excellent to drink when unwell. Traditionally broth was made just from bones and simmered for hours to remove the gelatin, marrow and goodness from them. These days vegetables are also added to give extra flavour. By using a slow cooker, making your own broth/stock is so easy. As soon as a roast chicken is eaten, all the bones go into the freezer ready for the next batch of broth. If purchasing store-bought stocks, read the labels as many companies have changed the name of MSG to yeast extract. Organic or free-range brands are available. My Chicken broth recipe is on page 295 of The JOYful Table cookbook. Freeze ice block trays filled with chicken broth for when a small amount is required for a recipe. You can also use an organic concentrated bone broth paste or dehydrated chicken bone broth powder and add them to filtered water.
Mustard is a condiment made from various varieties of seeds from the mustard plants (white or yellow mustard, brown or Indian mustard and black mustard). The seeds are ground to make different kinds of mustard. Dijon mustard is made when ground into a paste with added ingredients like water, salt, lemon juice and flavours and spices. It is a much milder mustard and is excellent to add to sauces and dressing.
Paprika is a spice made from grinding dried mild and sweet red chili peppers. Paprika is used to add colour and flavour to a dish. It has a sweet pungent flavour and distinct bitter aftertaste. Even just a small sprinkle of paprika can deliver antioxidants and nutrients like, Vitamin A, E and B6, also iron. I purchase an organic paprika made by 'Simply Organic' (from iherb.com). Paprika is a nightshade.
Organic unbleached, unrefined organic Celtic sea salt or pink Himalayan salt is my salt of choice as these contain healthy minerals and trace elements that our body needs. Regular table salt has been bleached, refined and processed leaving minimal health benefits. If you choose to use regular table salt in my recipes you will need to reduce the quantity or the end result will be to salty.
Black and white pepper both come from the fruit of a tropical vine. Black pepper is the cooked and dried unripe fruit, know as a peppercorn and white pepper is from the ripe fruit seed. Pepper is usually coupled with salt, sprinkled over or added to food.
Ghee is a lactose-free ancient superfood. It is made by slow cooking and clarifying butter to remove the milk solids and lactose, it's pure butter fat. You can get the flavour of butter in your cooking without the dairy (please don't consume if you have an allergy to ghee). My favourite brands are Organic Valley Purity Farms or Puresoul grass-fed. It is also very easy to make yourself. Ghee has a high smoke point 485F/250C.
In my recipes when listing onion I am referring to a brown (also called yellow) onion. Onions are members of the allium plant family which also includes garlic, leeks, spring onions and shallots. Onions are valued more for the flavour they impart in cooking than for their nutritional content. Onions are know for their antibacterial effect helping to prevent superficial infections and their sulfur compounds may block carcinogens.
Both celery stalks and leaves can be used, whole stalks are eaten raw in salads or cooked to give flavour in stews and soups. Raw stalks with the leaves are excellent in your morning smoothie and give you a good dose of vitamin K, B and A, folate, riboflavin and more, plus celery contains several minerals.
Mushrooms are classified as fungi. Edible mushrooms are very low in kilojoules, rich in minerals and B complex vitamins, when exposed to UV light they contain large amounts of vitamin D2. Mushrooms are also used for medicinal purposes.
Garlic is a close relative to the onion and has been used throughout history for both medicinal and culinary purposes. In most of my recipes I use minced garlic as I find it distributes better throughout the dish. When in a hurry I use organic minced garlic which I purchase in glass jars and store in the fridge. When garlic powder is needed for a particular recipe, I use 'Simply Organic' brand. Why is garlic so good for us? It is an immune booster, antibiotic, good for the heart, cancer fighter and it's also knew as a weight loss aid (appetite suppressant).
Cauliflower is one of the cruciferous vegetables that should be eaten on a regular basis, as it has huge health benefits. One cup of cooked cauliflower provides you with 73% of your DRI of vitamin C, it's also a good source of vitamin K. You will find several dozen studies linking cauliflower to cancer prevention.
Choose grass fed, free-range chicken and organic if available. Chicken is a meat that gets injected with hormones to plumb it up, shop carefully. A good source of protein.
Almonds have 240mg of calcium in 50gms, as much as is found in 200ml of milk. Nuts are a great protein snack. Eat them raw or activated and it's best to avoid store bought roasted nuts that have been cooked in canola, sunflower or similar vegetable oils. When ground finely almonds make a wonderful nut meal/flour for grain-free baking.