Whenever I hear the word “casserole” I usually have an image of baked chicken breasts topped with a can of condensed cream of mushroom soup and white rice. For this reason, I have always stayed away from making anything with “casserole” in the title. But I recently discovered that a casserole could be so much more than dry chicken and bland sauce.
This recipe definitely has a laundry list of ingredients, but once you throw everything together, the casserole will keep in your frig for at least 5 days and it only gets better with time. Also, it’s always a great idea to bulk up on the veggies when making casseroles because they add great texture and flavor not to mention additional nutrition.
Mexican Chicken Casserole
Makes 6 servings
1 serving = 7 Points Plus
- 1 # boneless, skinless chicken breast
- 1 large onion, small dice
- 1 # bell pepper, small dice
- 1 serrano chile, finely chopped*
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cups cremini mushrooms, quartered
- 3/4 cup frozen corn kernels
- 2 cups baby spinach
- 15 oz canned black beans
- 3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped*
- 1/2 cup fat-free cottage cheese
- 1/2 cup fat-free sour cream
- 4 white corn tortillas, cut into 1.5 inch strips
- 3 oz Cabot 50% reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- 1 oz Grana Padano Cheese (you can substitute Parmesan cheese), grated
- 1 tbsp cumin
- 1 tsp ground oregano
*If you do not like spicy food you can reduce or eliminate these ingredients.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
First you’re going to poach the chicken breasts. I know…poaching might sound intimidating but it is actually super easy, a great health-conscious technique and it’s perfect in this dish because it keeps the chicken nice and moist.
Take a small pot and place your chicken breasts in the pot. Cover with cold water. Add 2 bay leaves and salt. Bring the pot up to a boil and then turn it down immediately to a “lazy simmer.” A lazy simmer is when a few bubbles break the surface of the water every couple of seconds. Cook the chicken breast for 12-15 minutes. Then I like to throw the whole thing in the frig to let it cool down. Make sure the liquid is still covering the chicken. This helps the chicken stay moist. When it’s cool enough to handle cut the chicken into cubes. See poaching isn’t too scary.
Next you want to sauté your veggies…onions, bell pepper, serrano chile, garlic, and mushrooms. Don’t forget to season them. Once the veggies are tender, add in your frozen corn and baby spinach until the spinach wilts. Set aside to cool.
While the vegetables are cooling, in a large bowl combine black beans, chipotles, cottage cheese, sour cream, and 2 oz of the cheddar cheese. Add the chicken and the cooled vegetables. Season with salt and pepper and add cumin and oregano.
Spray an 8×8 square glass-baking dish. Take half of your tortilla strips and layer then on the bottom of the pan. Top that with half of your chicken mixture. Then cover with another layer of tortilla strips. Add the rest of the chicken mixture and top with grated cheddar cheese and grana padano. Bake for 30 minutes. When it’s finished make sure you let it rest for at least 10 minutes. I know it’s hard to wait that long but it’ll be well worth it. When you let it rest, you give the casserole a chance to set-up so when you cut into it, the filling doesn’t slop everywhere. After your 10 minutes of torture are up, dig in and enjoy your casserole for the rest of the week.