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You know what I love? Recipes that are easy to make, are packed with veggies, make enough for leftovers, and can be cut into neat little squares. This Pesto Chicken Casserole checks ALLLL the boxes! I took a shortcut and used Trader Joe's Vegan Kale Cashew Pesto in this recipe, but you could use homemade pesto or another brand (just make sure to check your labels if you're sticking to Whole30!).
I did make my own cauliflower rice, which, if you have a food processor, is SO easy. Luckily, lots of stores carry it these days too, to make your life easier. I used fresh cauli and processed it until it was pretty fine, which helped to "hide" the cauliflower in this recipe, but I think frozen could work too (might just get a liiiiittle watery). To reduce the chances of a watery casserole, you can salt your raw cauliflower rice before adding it to the casserole (or thaw and squeeze out your frozen cauliflower). Set it aside while you prep everything else, then wring it out. Hands down the best tool for this is a nut milk bag! **To get 10% off with Ellie's Best, use code maria10.**
I was so excited to eat this casserole... breakfast, lunch, dinner, whatever! It also freezes really well (I froze half after baking) and EVEN if you aren't the biggest fan of cauliflower or eggs, please give it a shot. The pesto and garlic flavors really shine through and I think you will love it!
Can we take a time out and talk about how you measure kale? Seriously, how are you supposed to measure it!? Because I realize not everyone has a kitchen scale, and if you buy a bunch of kale and chop it how do you know how much is really there!? For this recipe, I weighed it and I used 5 oz of de-stemmed and chopped kale! But as you can see, in this bowl, it's like 12-ish cups!? Just use however much kale you want :)
I am super proud of this recipe and I hope you make it and LOVE IT! Don't forget to tag me on Instagram (@mariamakesstuff, #mariamakes). There are few things that make me happier than seeing people make and enjoy my recipes!
Pesto Chicken Casserole
[Whole30 - Paleo - Gluten Free - Grain Free - Dairy Free]
~2lb head of cauliflower (to make cauli rice, or ~4 cups of fine cauliflower rice)
1 tsp salt
5 oz chopped kale (about 12 cups not packed)
1 tsp olive oil
1 red bell pepper
2 cups shredded chicken
1 package Trader Joe's Vegan Kale Cashew Pesto (or ~1 cup of your favorite pesto)
4 green onions, chopped (about 1/3 cup whites and greens)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and grease a 9x9 cake pan with a bit of coconut oil or ghee (use your hands!).
- If you're starting with a whole cauliflower, add it to your food processor in batches and process until it reaches rice consistency. It should work out to be about 4 cups of cauli rice.
TIP: You may have to stop it to pull out any big chunks that are refusing to process! You don't want the rest to turn into paste for the sake of a couple of big chunks!
- Add cauliflower rice to a medium bowl and sprinkle with 1 tsp of salt. Sit aside while you prep the rest of the ingredients.
TIP: This helps to draw some of the water out so you don't end up with a super wet casserole.
- In a large bowl (where we'll mix the majority of the casserole), add the chopped kale (stems removed), and drizzle with 1 tsp of olive oil. Get in there with your hands and massage the kale, squeezing it in your hands until it turns a darker green color and shrinks down some! This helps o it doesn't take up a TON of space in your casserole dish (and gives it a good texture).
- Once your kale is nice and relaxed, chop up the red bell pepper and add it to the bowl with the kale.
- Toss in the cooked and shredded/chopped chicken.
- To make the sauce, add the 8oz/1 cup of pesto to a small bowl. Add eggs, green onions, garlic, black pepper, and salt. Whisk together until eggs are incorporated.
- Next, we'll need to wring out our cauli rice. I use my Ellie's Best Nut Milk Bag for this (use code maria10 for 10% off your order). If you don't have a nut milk bag, just use a clean kitchen towel and squeeze out as much moisture as you can!
- Add the cauli rice into the bowl with all of the other ingredients, top with the pesto/egg mixture, and fold together to evenly distribute everything. (Not going to lie, I used my hands).
- Transfer casserole mixture to the baking dish and bake for 40-45 minutes or until the center is firm/set and it starts to brown around the edges.
- Dig in and enjoy!