Spring Cauliflower Rice Risotto Bake with Chicken

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Spring Cauliflower Rice Risotto Bake with Chicken

Despite the fact that we are well into spring now, Southern California has had it a bit twisted. Since I arrived back home from my travels to NY last week, it’s been mostly grey, rainy and cool. While I would have loved this weather in December and January, I will take it now. It’s a really nice change of pace. A great reason to pull out some sweaters and it’s also a great excuse to enjoy some real comforting foods.

Spring Cauliflower Rice Risotto Bake with Chicken

Of all things I was craving a casserole. I know. What is it 1985? There is just something so comforting and cozy about a meal you can dump into a pan, bake and enjoy. It’s childhood for those of us in our 30s. I was also dreaming of a good creamy spring risotto, one of my favorite foods. While rice isn’t off limits for me, I do try to be mindful of how many grains I consume. I just feel better when my belly isn’t bloated from the carbs. Hence why I am OBSESSED with cauliflower rice. It’s so crazy versatile, so super easy to make and it’s incredible how delicious it is. If you have a Trader Joe’s near you, the Organic Frozen Cauliflower Rice is an amazing quick option for when you don’t want to lug out the food processor. I have used it in this recipe before and it’s perfect!

Spring Cauliflower Rice Risotto Bake with Chicken

This casserole is the ultimate in comfort food and it’s a simple meal that works great for the whole family. Oh and it will blow your mind that the rich and creamy sauce is dairy-free. The asparagus and peas bring fresh spring flavors and vibrant color and the pop of tartness and yellow from the zest brings a brightness to bring it all together. Don’t skip the fresh herbs on top as well, they are the perfect finishing move.

Spring Cauliflower Rice Risotto Bake with Chicken

[print_this]Spring Cauliflower Rice Risotto Bake with Chicken {gluten-free and paleo}
adapted from Danielle Walker’s Chicken and Rice Casserole from Against All Grain: Meals Made Simple

serves 6+


  • 1 cup raw whole cashews, soaked overnight
  • 3/4 cup chicken, vegetable or mushroom stock
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice


  • 3 tablespoon ghee or extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 white spring onions, minced (or shallots)
  • 2 leeks, rinsed very well, slice thinly white and green parts only*
  • 4 cups riced cauliflower
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken, I prefer chicken thighs
  • 1 small bunch asparagus stalks, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen and thawed green peas
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest, for serving
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, for serving (optional)
  • fresh mint, roughly chopped, for serving
  • fresh chives, thinly sliced, for serving

Soak your cashews in water at least 4 hours, covered and in the refrigerator. Drain off the liquid and rinse.

Preheat the oven to 375°F and lightly grease a 3-quart casserole dish with 1 tablespoon of the ghee or oil.
Heat remaining 2 tablespoons of ghee in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Sauté the onions, garlic, and leeks. Add the cauliflower, salt and pepper. Cook another 5 minutes. Stir in the chicken and the asparagus, then remove from the heat and set aside.

Drain the soaked cashews and place them in a blender with the remaining sauce ingredients. Blend on high for 30 to 45 seconds, until very smooth. Stir the sauce into the chicken and vegetable mixture, then spoon the entire mixture into the prepared casserole dish.

Bake, covered, for 15 minutes. Pull the casserole out, uncover, add the peas, give it a stir, leave uncovered and continue baking 10 minutes. Top with fresh herbs, lemon zest and parmesan, if you’d like. Enjoy.

Recipe Notes:

grab a clean organic rotisserie chicken to make this recipe super fast and easy

the organic frozen cauliflower rice from Trader Joes works great in this recipe (thaw it first)

if you forget to soak the cashews, you can quick soak them in boiling water for 30 minutes

on cleaning leeks: leeks tend to have a lot of dirt and grit in them. If you aren’t careful when cleaning them, you may think they are totally clean, start cooking with them and find your entire dish has a nasty grittiness to it. This can ruin a dish. After trimming off the ends (called the beards) and the dark green tops (save these for stocks). You can run them under cold water at this point, or even better, you can submerge the leeks in a large pot of cold water. Swirl them around to really remove all the grit and dirt. Drain well and then cut. [/print_this]

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4 Responses

  1. Gerry Speirs says:

    I love this, major yes for cauliflower rice 😉

  2. So pretty! I’m embarrassed that I have YET to try cauliflower rice!

  3. Lori says:

    This sounds GREAT but my son is allergic to wheat and nuts. Any idea what I could substitute for the cashews?

  4. Yvonne says:

    Hi I just found your site earlier this week and I love your recipes, the presentation and most of the all the refreshing no rules, no labels, no guilt approach. I hope you have a book coming out in the future. 🙂

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