Southwestern Cauliflower Casserole

After the girls were born, and we were trying to balance our time with them in the NICU and a 1 year old at home, not to mention preparing for life with 4 kids under 2 years old, our wonderful neighbors did a meal train for us.  One of them brought us a Southwestern Chicken Casserole with rice and black beans...it was addictive!  I always joke that I should have been born in Mexico or Texas, because I could truly live on Mexican food forever, so this was right up my alley!  I made it regularly for a while, but when we went to a more Paleo/Primal diet, I had to figure out a way to make an alternative to this recipe!  This is a great substitute, although it is not perfectly Paleo, due to the cheese and the corn, but it's definitely a lot better than the carb filled original!  Plus, make-ahead Primal Casseroles are hard to come by!  

->Vegetarian - remove the chicken and double the beans!

 
Southwestern Cauliflower Casserole - makes enough for our family of 6 with leftovers for lunch!

 

 

1 head cauliflower (or 2 bags frozen - steamed and mashed with potato masher)
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, smashed, chopped
1 pint mushrooms, washed & chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
3 carrots, peeled & chopped
1 zucchini squash, washed & diced
1 yellow squash, washed & diced
1 can organic fire roasted tomatoes

2-3 chicken breasts, grilled and chopped

1 can organic black beans, rinsed well

12oz. bag frozen corn
cumin
paprika
pepper
8 oz. package mexican blend cheese or whatever you like (I used a little less than 1 cup)
cilantro - chopped
 

Steam the cauliflower until soft.  Break it up with a fork so that it's grainy like rice.  LET IT COOL. (It puts off a lot of steam as it cools and if you don't allow it to release that before you combine, it will make the casserole really soggy).

*Frozen Cauliflower works great!  Just add to a microwave safe container, add 1/2 cup water, cover cook for 10 minutes, mash with a potato masher and leave uncovered for the steam to clear off so it isn't mushy!*

In a large saute pan on medium heat, add a little olive oil and saute onions, garlic, red bell pepper, mushroom until translucent, about 3 minutes.  Add zucchini, squash, carrots and cook for 5 more minutes.  Add beans and corn and continue to stir.  Turn the heat off, add diced tomatoes, chicken, and cauliflower and stir to combine well.  Turn out into a greased 9x13 pyrex dish.  Sprinkle the top with cumin, paprika, pepper.  Sprinkle with cheese.  Cover and refrigerate until you are ready to bake! 

Preheat oven to 400F, bake casserole covered for 30 minutes (45 if it came from fridge), uncover and bake for 10-15 more!
*Tip: If I am covering a casserole with foil to bake, I always hit it with olive oil spray first so that the cheese doesn't stick!

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