Monday, June 9, 2014

Paleo Pumpkin Cream Chicken Casserole

So the other day I asked Mike what he would like for dinner. He said "A casserole. With chicken." Well that one got me thinking. See, I am used to the type of casseroles that I have had for the last 30-something years of my life: pasta, cheese, cream of chicken soup... all those things that I can't eat anymore. So this request was a little bit of a challenge. What could I make that satisfied Mike's desire for a casserole with chicken, was within my dietary requirements, and tasted good enough for Mike to eat, even without cheese?

I went on an explore of the interwebs and picked up a couple of ideas. The one I decided on was from www.paleomg.com, and she called it Paleo Pumpkin Cream Chicken Casserole.

Here is her photo:
pumpkin casserole

I apologize for not having photos of my own... I was skeptical that Mike would eat this, but not only did he eat it, he actually said he liked it! I think this recipe would also be really good with a richer meat like lamb, if you wanted to try that. I did make a couple of changes from the original, because that is how I insist on doing things, so my recipe is below:

Paleo Pumpkin Cream Chicken Casserole 
Ingredients
  • 1.5 lbs chicken breasts, chopped into 1 inch cubes (you could also use shredded or ground chicken for this, or even ground lamb or other game-y meat would taste good)
  • 1 medium sized spaghetti squash
  • 1 head cauliflower, chopped
  • 1 can pumpkin puree
  • 1 can canned coconut milk (I used about 2/3 of the can for this recipe. If you use the whole can, the sauce is a little runny, but it still tastes great!)
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Chop the cauliflower and put it in a baking dish, tossed with a little bit of olive oil and salt and pepper, to taste. Then cut your spaghetti squash in half, using a spoon to scoop out the seeds and extra threads, and set it face down on a baking pan. I used my silpat for this, it is perfect! Add the cauliflower and spaghetti squash to the oven, side by side if possible, to roast for around 25 minutes. (Depending how big your spaghetti squash is, the cauliflower made roast a little quicker, but mine cooked at the same time) You will know your spaghetti squash is cooked when you can poke the outside skin and it gives a bit.
While the squash and cauliflower are cooking, it’s time to cook up your chicken. Use a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add olive oil to it and once the olive oil is starting to get hot, add the minced garlic. Once the garlic begins to smell, add the chopped onions and cook until translucent, around 5 minutes or so.
Add your chopped chicken to the cooking onions, cover and let steam for around 5 minutes. Once the chicken is almost cooked through, add the can of pumpkin, the coconut milk, and spices directly to the pan. Mix until well combined. Taste to see if you need any more spices or salt.
Once the squash and cauliflower is done cooking, and the chicken mixture is heated up, de-thread the spaghetti squash with a fork, running the fork the opposite way of the threads. Add your spaghetti squash threads, roasted cauliflower, and chicken saucey mixture to a 9×11 glass baking dish and add dish to the oven under the broiler. Cook for about 5 minutes, getting a little dark on the top.
Remove from oven and let sit for about 5-10 minutes to help the sauce thicken up. 
Then, as she says on www.paleomg.com, "...eat the crap of that deliciousness".