This dairy-free paleo casserole is made with layers of fresh veggies, bright herbs, and chicken! Naturally gluten-free, whole30 and so delicious!
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Is it just me or is a casserole on a winter’s night just the best meal ever?
I grew up eating healthy chicken noodle casserole and I think that set the stage for my “winter night casserole” love because now I’m all about a layered, throw-it-together meal like this little number when I need more veggies in my life.
Which, after all the paleo ginger snaps I have had over the holidays, it’s probably not a bad idea to get some veggies in!
Why You Will Love This Recipe
- It’s casserole season people which means I figured you needed some new keto casseroles! Nothing screams COZY more than a hot, loaded casserole on a cold winter day.
- I love a good casserole because you can throw together a bunch of different ingredients for an easy meal, and they taste DELISH.
- You’re not going to miss the dairy in this paleo chicken casserole, I can guarantee it. The sauce is so rich and adds all that creamy, comforting flavor and texture you’re looking for, without the cheese!
- The spices work together to bring the perfect amount of flavor to this casserole, and the best part is that it’s picky eater approved! Kids will even love this chicken zucchini casserole.
Is Dairy-Free Paleo Casserole With Chicken Healthy?
This is not only a whole30 casserole, but it’s also gluten-free, dairy-free, and a paleo-friendly meal that the whole family will enjoy! Meals that are paleo and whole30 are nourishing for your body, they make you feel great after eating them, and they can also be so delicious! We opt for lean ground chicken, which brings the protein without all that added fat; coconut flour, which has more protein and fiber than regular flour; and almond milk, which keeps this dairy-free. Add in all the veggies and yes, you’ve got a healthy meal!
Now, let’s gather our ingredients for the casserole we’re making today. You will need:
- 1 tbsp + 1 tsp olive oil, divided
- 1 lb 93% lean ground chicken
- 1/2 cup onion, diced (about half a small onion)
- 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 large zucchini, sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 1 tsp garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp cumin powder
- 1/8 tsp cardamom powder
- 1/8 tsp oregano flakes
- 1/4 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp fresh tarragon, minced + additional for garnish
- 1 large tomato, thinly sliced
- 1 cup orange bell pepper, diced (about 1 large pepper)
- 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp + 1 tsp almond meal
- 1 tbsp + 1 tsp coconut flour
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
Set your oven to 350°F and brush an 8″ x 8″ pan with olive oil.
In a large pan, heat some olive oil and add in the ground chicken once it’s heated up. Cook it until it’s no longer pink. Add in the onion, tomato paste, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
Add the chopped zucchini to a large bowl and toss it with the remaining olive oil and the garlic. In a separate small bowl, add the spices and stir them together. Sprinkle the spice mixture over the zucchini and toss until it’s evenly coated.
Arrange and Bake
Place the zucchini in the bottom of your prepared pan (it’s OK if a few of them overlap) and sprinkle them with the fresh tarragon. Spread the chicken on top of the zucchini and push it down so that it’s packed well. Lay the sliced tomato over top of the chicken mixture. Spread the diced bell pepper on top of the tomato evenly. Cover with foil and bake for about 15 minutes.
Make the Sauce
While the casserole is baking, heat a large pan on medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Add in the almond meal and coconut flour and let it cook until it absorbs into the oil and turns dark brown. Pour in the almond milk and let it come to a boil, stirring constantly. Once it’s boiling, reduce the heat to medium and let it cook for 10-11 minutes at a low boil, stirring often until it thickens. Season with salt and pepper.
Pour the sauce evenly over the casserole and let it bake another 45 minutes or so, uncovered. Let it cool for 10 minutes once you pull it from the oven, then slice and garnish with more fresh tarragon.
Of all my paleo casserole recipes, this one is one of my faves! I just love it, and it can be paired with so may different delicious sides as well! Here are a few I recommend:
- Vegan Paleo Broccoli Cashew Salad
- Superfood Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon
- Cumin Roasted Carrots
Another plus about casseroles like this one is that you don’t have to prepare and cook it all at once- there’s no rush or time crunch on this meal. In fact, you can easily assemble it the morning or even day before you want to bake it. If you’ve got a busy day at work but still need a hot meal to feed your family, assemble this casserole the night before and pop it into the oven after work! It is so convenient for those busy days with no time to spare!
Because this dish has so many ingredients, there is lots of room for variety. Here are some suggestions, though some of these changes may disqualify it from certain diets:
Protein: Instead of chicken, use turkey, beef, or pork. You could also use shredded chicken or tofu.
Vegetables: Which vegetables to include are entirely up to you. Consider adding mushrooms, spinach, kale, broccoli, or carrots.
Grain/Legume: If you’d prefer a more substantial meal, add cooked quinoa, brown rice, or lentils. It will also increase the fiber and protein content.
Cheese: Sprinkle some grated Parmesan, cheddar, or mozzarella over the casserole for those last few minutes of baking.
Sauce: If you don’t want the almond-milk-based sauce, you can go the more traditional route and substitute it with tomato sauce or marinara sauce.
You sure can! Both are lean meats and are healthier substitutes for beef and pork.
To be honest, I have not frozen it myself so I really can’t tell you 100% for sure either way. My gut tells me it would be best to cook it first but again, I can’t tell you for sure!
Increase the amount of chili powder or go with a pinch of cayenne pepper. You could also chop up some jalapeños and sauté them along with the onions and bell peppers. Before you serve the casserole, you could make red pepper flakes available for your guests and let them decide the level of spiciness.
how to store Dairy-Free Paleo Casserole With Chicken
Let the casserole cool completely. At this point, you may want to divide up the casserole into smaller portions; this will make serving later much easier. Put the servings into airtight containers then store in the fridge, where it will last for up to 4 days. You can also freeze the casserole for up to 3 months.
When you would like to eat it again, let the casserole thaw overnight in the fridge. Warm it on LOW in the oven until the internal temperature reaches a safe point.
For the casserole:
- 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp Olive oil divided
- 1 Lb 93% Lean Ground turkey OR chicken
- 1/2 Cup Onion diced (about half a small onion)
- 1/4 Cup + 2 Tbsp Tomato paste
- 1 Large zucchini sliced 1/4 thick
- 1 tsp Garlic minced
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1/4 tsp Cumin powder
- 1/8 tsp Cardamom powder
- 1/8 tsp Oregano flakes
- 1/4 tsp Chili powder
- 1/2 tsp Fresh Tarragon minced + additional for garnish
- 1 Large tomato thinly sliced
- 1 Cup Orange bell pepper diced (about 1 large pepper)
For the sauce:
- 1 1/2 Tbsp Olive oil
- 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp Almond meal
- 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp Coconut flour
- 1 Cup Unsweetened Almond milk
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and brush an8×8 inch panwith olive oil. Set aside
- In a large pan, heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil over medium heat.
- Add in the ground turkey and cook until no longer pink, and the outside is nice and browned. Stir in the diced onion, tomato paste and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Place the sliced zucchini into a large bowl and toss with remaining tsp of olive oil and garlic. In a separate, small bowl, mix together the salt, cumin, cardamom, oregano and chili powder. Add into the zucchini and toss, making sure the spices are evenly coated.
- Spread the zucchini onto the bottom of the prepared pan (it’s ok if you have overlap on a few pieces) and sprinkle the fresh tarragon over top.
- Spoon the turkey mixture on top of the zucchini and press down, so that the turkey is nice and packed. Lay the sliced tomato on top of the turkey in an even layer. Finish by sprinkling the diced bell pepper over top of the tomato evenly.
- Cover the casserole and bake for 15 minutes.
- While the casserole bakes, make the sauce by heating the olive oil in a large pan over medium/high heat.
- Add in the almond meal and coconut flour and cook until the flours begin to absorb into the oil and turn a dark brown, about 1 minute. Think dark peanut butter here.
- Pour in the almond milk and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium so that the sauce stays at a steady low boil. Stir often to ensure it does not burn.
- Cook until the sauce begins to thicken, about 10-11 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
- Once the casserole bakes, pour the sauce over-top evenly and bake, uncovered, for another 45 minutes.
- Let stand for 10 minutes and then slice, garnish with additional tarragon and DEVOUR.
Recipes written and produced on Food Faith Fitness are for informational purposes only.