Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Baked Cauliflower

I seem to be making up for taking the summer off of blogging here...
Tonight was an experimental-dinner night and for once, I rocked it.
The soup didn't last as long as I thought it would and so I found myself unexpectedly having to make dinner tonight with no time to grab anything new or useful at the store.  I decided to challenge myself by creating something wonderful out of whatever I could find in the fridge.  I was faced with no onions, sausage or mushrooms (important go-to ingredients when I improvise).  What I had was a head of cauliflower, a bunch of frozen chicken, an orange pepper and some pumpkin puree (pumpkin puree is likely to be a common theme in my cooking for at least the next month or so).  So, I went to pinterest and searched "cauliflower chicken" to see what would come up.  Most of what came up involved chicken sausage or cream.  As I've mentioned before, creamy/cheesy casseroles don't work so well for my digestive system.  Then I came across an interesting casserole with a canned diced tomato base.  It also required sausage, so I sort of used it as inspiration.  When I popped my creation into the oven, I thought, "well, I hope it's edible."  It ended up being SO good I stuffed myself.  The pumpkin puree made it pretty creamy - also made it extra healthy.  This is such a great cauliflower-casserole alternative to the standard fare that involves lots of cheese and cream.  Even though it was just a random creation, I am writing down the recipe so that I can make it again.
I served it with purple jasmine rice.  If you've never branched out with rice at your local fancy grocery store's bulk food aisle, I highly recommend doing so.  Purple rice, and pink rice, are favorites of ours.  And festive!
Chicken Cauliflower Bake
2 boneless chicken breasts cut into 1" pieces
1 orange or yellow pepper diced
3 cloves garlic minced or 1 Tbls of a good quality jarred minced garlic (I buy mine at the local Asian grocery store)
Olive oil
1 head cauliflower, trimmed, cored, and cut into bite sized pieces
1 14 oz. can of diced tomatoes with juice
1 cup pumpkin puree
salt to taste (I used about 1-1/2 tsp)
ground pepper to taste
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2-1 cup panko crumbs or similar
1/2 cup fresh shredded parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Par-boil cauliflower for about 2 minutes, drain, set aside.
3. In a skillet, pour one turn of the pan of olive oil, heat garlic until fragrant.  Add chicken and seasonings.  Add orange/yellow pepper and saute somewhere between medium and medium-high heat until chicken is cooked through.
4. Remove from heat, stir in tomatoes, pumpkin puree and taste to see if more salt is needed.  Add cauliflower and combine thoroughly.
5. Pour into a 9x13 pan.  Top with mixture of panko and parmesan cheese.  Drizzle lightly with olive oil.
6. Bake for about 30 minutes or until sauce is bubbly and bread crumbs are toasted.

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