Saturday, March 28, 2020

Keto Bacon Ranch Chicken Casserole

It’s a common misconception that casseroles are off the table once you shift to a Primal lifestyle or start a keto diet. After all, the casseroles you grew up with were likely packed with noodles or rice, had very little vegetable, and were almost universally held together by a can of condensed soup.

With a few ingredient swaps, casseroles are back, and just as cozy as ever. This Keto Bacon Ranch Chicken Casserole recipe has the creamy, dreamy consistency you know and love, without the digestive upset that comes with a heavy, cheesy casserole. Plus, everyone loves the convenience of a one-pan meal – less cooking and clean up time!

Instead of using cream-of-whatever soup, you’ll create the velvety effect by combining dairy-free ranch dressing with a cashew sauce so good that it stands on its own as an addictive vegetable dip. (Do yourself a favor – make a little extra cashew sauce.) The nutritional yeast is optional, but can give your keto chicken casserole a “cheesier” flavor if that’s how you like it.

This recipe uses homemade almond milk which is mild in flavor and higher in fat than a store bought dairy-free milk, but store-bought will work for this recipe if that’s what you have on hand. Aim to use something with a neutral flavor to allow the bacon and ranch to shine through.

Keto Bacon Ranch Chicken Casserole Recipe

Servings: 4-5

Time in the kitchen: 40-45 minutes (including 15 minutes cook time)

Ingredients:

Cashew Sauce:

  • 3/4 c raw cashews, soaked for minimum two hours
  • 1/2 c unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tbsp tahini
  • 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp salt and pepper
  • 1/4 tsp mustard powder
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh chives
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh dill
  • Optional: 1-2 tbsp nutritional yeast

Casserole:

  • 5 oz bacon
  • 1.25 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1/2 c chopped onion
  • 2 chopped cloves garlic
  • 3 c cauliflower rice
  • 3 c spinach
  • 1/4 c Primal Kitchen Ranch Dressing
  • 1/4 c unsweetened almond milk

Directions:

Drain the cashews and place them in a high-speed blender with 1/2 cup almond milk, lemon juice, tahini, apple cider vinegar, salt, pepper and mustard powder. Blend until very smooth. Mix in the fresh dill and chives.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the bacon in an oven-safe pan. Place the pan in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the bacon reaches the doneness of your liking. Remove the slices of bacon and set them aside. You may want to drain out a little bacon fat if there’s a lot in the pan.

Heat the pan on the stovetop over medium heat. Add the chicken thighs and season them with a pinch of salt and pepper. Sear for 1-2 minutes on either side. Add the diced onion and mix it around in the pan. Transfer the pan to the oven until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165-170 degrees Fahrenheit. Chop the chicken and bacon and set aside.

Place the pan back over the stovetop and add the chopped garlic. Once it is fragrant, add the cauliflower rice and stir. Stir for a few minutes or until it begins to soften, then add the ranch dressing and almond milk. Once the cauliflower rice is soft, add the spinach. Fold the spinach into the cauliflower rice and remove the pan from the heat. The residual heat from the pan will wilt the spinach. Mix in the chopped bacon and spinach, and 2/3 of the cashew “cheese” mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste. You can also add in some chopped fresh herbs like parsley or dill, if you’d like.

Grease a baking dish with avocado oil (avocado oil spray works well for this) and pour the casserole mixture into it, using a spatula or a spoon to spread it out evenly. Pour the remaining cashew cheese mixture on top of the casserole and spread it out evenly. Place the casserole in the oven for about 15 minutes, or until the top turns slightly golden. Top with black pepper and chopped chives.

Nutrition Information (1/5 of casserole):

Calories: 415

Total Carbs: 11 grams

Net Carbs: 8 grams

Fat: 28 grams

Protein: 28 grams

Nutrition calculated using Cronometer

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