A rich and creamy pasta dish that’s healthy, too!
Ahhh, creamy pasta dishes. Not exactly a recipe you’d think could be included in a healthy-eating plan. And yet, here we are! This garlicky Chicken Florentine Casserole uses warming nutmeg, oregano, rich chicken broth, and Parmesan cheese to create a healthy version of a favorite creamy, bubbly casserole. This simple casserole will please the whole family, and you may even get your kids to eat spinach (and like it!). You’ll never guess that this dish clocks in at only 8 grams of fat and 315 calories per serving.
Chicken Florentine Casserole is Great For Kids
When I was a kid, there was no way — and I mean no way — I would willingly eat anything as green as spinach. No matter how my mother tempted me, I had this childhood logic that, if I ate spinach, she would see my resolve weaken. As a result, she might try and dupe me into eating other more nefarious food items like broccoli. Yuck!
Unknown to me, my mother had been slipping vast quantities of the stuff into my favorite soups and pasta dishes. This Chicken Florentine Casserole operates using the same trickery. With baked pasta recipes, it’s easy to use the indulgent creaminess to disguise any healthy additions you want to make. If you wanted to increase the nutrition content even more, you could probably puree cauliflower or white beans to make an extra-creamy, extra-duplicitous pasta bake.
The Key Players In This Creamy Chicken Florentine Casserole
Our irresistible casserole spotlights chicken and spinach, along with a few other nutritious ingredients that add flavor. Chicken acts as a lean source of meat that packs a powerful protein punch in this yummy dish. We love using chicken for dishes like this because of its juicy, tender consistency. In addition, it also has a low-fat profile, which makes it perfect for a creamy dish like this!
I’m sure you’re well aware of the nutritious reputation of spinach, offering a seemingly endless list of health benefits. The superfood is an excellent source of vitamins A and C, along with folate, manganese, magnesium, and iron. Thanks to its spinach content, this casserole dish provides a delicious opportunity to sneak in some feel-good vitamins and minerals!
Other key players in our crave-worthy casserole include garlic, olive oil, and powerful spices like nutmeg and oregano. Low fat cottage cheese teams up with fresh Parmesan, bringing you a creamy cheesiness that seals the deal. Finally, we use whole grain pasta in this recipe. This healthier alternative to regular pasta carries more fiber and nutrients without skimping on flavor.
In the end, we have created a perfect, healthy dish that will satisfy both parents and kids. More importantly, it’s healthy and filled with nutritious ingredients.
What to Serve with Chicken Florentine Casserole?
With this Chicken Florentine Casserole, I love the idea of serving it with salads. For example, this Tuscan Salad is a perfect pairing. Take out the salmon, and you’re left with the perfect combination of radicchio and arugula dressed with capers and lemon. I also like serving casseroles with a colorful salad like Connie and Ted’s Celebrity Salad, our take on a celebrity-inspired green onion and basil salad. One more idea for the road: What about a sliced Green Bean and Zucchini Salad with almonds, oregano and lots of garlic.
Paired with a nice salad or a warm vegetable side, this Chicken Florentine Casserole is sure to be a crowd-pleaser! It’s the definition of comfort food, minus the guilt. Most importantly, this rich and gooey casserole dish is simple to throw together. It makes the perfect main course for dinner parties or date nights!
- 12 ounces boneless skinless chicken breasts pre-cooked, cut into cubes, rotisserie chicken works too
- 4.5 ounces spinach boxed, frozen, thawed, and squeezed to remove excess liquid
- 2 garlic cloves large, minced
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice freshly squeezed
- 1 1/2 cups chicken broth fat-free
- pinch of nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon oregano dried
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup low-fat cottage cheese blended to make smooth consistency
- 2/3 cup parmesan cheese freshly grated, use small holes on grater
- 1/2 pound whole grain pasta such as farfalla, penne, or spirals
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Mist a 9 x 11 baking dish with oil. Cook pasta according to package directions. In a large pot, heat olive oil to medium-low and saute garlic until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add flour and whisk for 30 seconds. Add chicken broth and stir until thickened. Add lemon juice, nutmeg, oregano & pepper. Bring to simmer.
Remove from heat and add blended cottage cheese, spinach, chicken, Parmesan cheese & pasta. Stir to combine. Place in casserole dish. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden & bubbly.
SmartPoints (Freestyle): 8
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Editor’s note: This recipe was originally published on January 3, 2012.