chicken “noodle” casserole

This is classic comfort food right here. I don’t know about y’all, but I am a casserole freak. Ever since I was a little girl, casserole was among the top favorites for me. On our birthdays, my mom always let us pick what we wanted for dinner that night. It was always, always, a no-brainer for me.

Chicken.Noodle.Casserole.

And we’re talking old-school, Campbell’s Soup based casserole. This is not fancy, frilly food by any means. And honestly, I think that is what makes food special. It’s the memory that food evokes, not the expensive ingredients or crazy cookware.

Since I’ve gotten older, chicken noodle casserole still remains a favorite of mine. But as you all know by now, my food brain tends to work in crazy, albeit kooky ways sometimes. And I’m fully okay with that! At this point, I’m sure you all area scratching your heads, thinking “Where is Alicia going with this?” Well, let’s dive in, shall we?

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What makes this casserole so different is the ingredients that go in here. As I’ve talked about here, I discovered spaghetti squash a few years ago, and it made me rethink pasta. I absolutely love using this wondrous gourd in all sorts of “traditional” pasta dishes. And I’ll tell you what, it works fabulously! Once cooked, spaghetti squash takes on a – you guessed it – spaghetti-like texture. I love it. And in a direct comparison to pasta, it totally wins out in the nutritional sense too. Less carbs, more vitamins….what this means for me is that I can enjoy a lot more of the dish and not worry about feeling weighed down or sluggish after it. #winning

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The other star of this dish is the sauce that holds it together. Tofu! Can you believe it? Super protein packed, and it takes on the flavor of whatever you add to it. In this case, we’ll be going heavy on the herbs that pair well with the chicken. I first tried this sauce for my in-laws. When I told them the base of the sauce was tofu, they was amazed. And not to mention, they both loved it.

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This is one crazy casserole. A new, healthier twist on a classic. I promise, y’all won’t be disappointed.

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Chicken “Noodle” Casserole {original recipe, serves 2 with leftover sauce and squash}

…this can easily be doubled!

1 large spaghetti squash, pre-cooked and shredded*

2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts

olive oil, to drizzle in the pan
1 large onion, finely diced
2-3 large garlic cloves

1 pack (14 ounces) firm tofu
1/2 C low sodium chicken stock (I like Kitchen Basics)
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano

1/2 C bread crumbs
1/2 C fresh grated Parmesan cheese

salt & pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees, with the rack in the middle of the oven.
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, and drizzle with olive oil. With clean hands, place chicken breasts in, coating each sides with salt, pepper, and olive oil. Cook for 30-35 minutes, or until the juices run clear. Remove from the pan and set aside to cool.

While chicken is cooking, preheat a large nonstick skillet. Drizzle with olive oil, and set to medium heat. Dice the onions and mince the garlic, and add to the pan. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and cook until onions are translucent. Once at that stage, cut the heat and move to a cool space on the stovetop.

Drain the excess liquid off the tofu, and cut into cubes (don’t worry about it being precise, this is just to help with the processing). Add to the food processor, along with the sauteed onions and garlic, dried basil, dried oregano, and chicken stock. Pulse until smooth, pausing to scrape down the sides. You want it to have a smooth, silky consistency – similar to a bechemel sauce.

Grease your baking dish (in this case, I used two large ramekins for individual servings. If you don’t have these, an 8×8 or 9×9 glass casserole dish works great for this amount). Spoon a small amount of sauce into the bottom, spreading to coat. Next, layer in the half the chicken (a quarter in each dish), then some of the shredded spaghetti squash. Top with the sauce. Repeat the layering process – the remaining chicken, spaghetti squash, and sauce. Mix the bread crumbs and cheese, and sprinkle evenly over the dish(es). I then like to drizzle a little olive oil on top – it makes for a good crunch!

Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the casserole is golden brown on top and bubbly. Serve immediately, ideally with crusty bread for dipping and a glass of white wine.

*to cook the spaghetti squash – preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise, and place in a casserole dish. Cook for 60-65 minutes, or until you can insert a fork in without resistance. Let cool, the shred with a fork…making “spaghetti” like strands…and store in the fridge in an airtight container. I like to do this the night before, to help reduce cooking time.

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7 thoughts on “chicken “noodle” casserole

  1. Pingback: greek-inspired roast chicken | kitchen konfidential

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