Leftovers are the best thing. I do tend to cook meals that are for more than 3 people – the OH tends to eat double portions, but otherwise we get leftovers. Sometimes it’s just reheated for lunch the next day, other times I use the leftovers to make another meal. Bolognese becomes lasagne (we can usually get 2 meals of lasagne, as well as the 1 meal of spaghetti bolognese); leftover roast beef becomes cold beef with jacket potatoes, fried leftover yorkshire pudding and salad. Roast chicken I make into chicken pie, or if there’s not enough for 3 of us I’ll make a chicken salad or in this case, my keto pesto chicken casserole recipe..
After N was eating a cheese and pesto toastie I decided that I wanted to add pesto to my leftover chicken and use that as a base for a casserole. I quite often add cream for light dishes, but this time decided to have cream cheese to mix with the pesto.
I try and add as many veg as possible into my recipes – because one tray dishes are so easy and saves getting more pans out for veg. This time I added garlic (because we can never have too much), pepper and spinach. I could have just cooked it through in the pan but I decided to make it into a bake.
To make this keto pesto chicken casserole you just need to saute the diced onion and garlic in some oil or butter. Add the chopped veg to cook it through a bit. Wilt the spinach in with the vegetables, then add in the pieces of chicken. You want small pieces, or shredded cooked chicken. If you don’t have cooked chicken, just cut chicken breasts into small pieces, then brown in oil in a pan, turning once golden brown on each side and cooked through.
Add 3 tablespoons of full fat cream cheese, a tablespoon of pesto and stir in. If it needed loosening a little, add a little chicken stock (or milk if you’re eating carbs) and stir in. Season with ground black pepper (and salt if needed) to taste.
Transfer to an ovenproof dish if your frying pan isn’t ovenproof. Add the cherry tomatoes, and top with grated parmesan or another hard cheese of your choice. Then bake in a preheated oven until the cheese has melted and it’s bubbling.
If you’re not following a keto diet, you can add a topping of garlic bread chunks with the cheese on top. This topping goes down so well in our house. You could be lazy and cut or tear up pieces of shop bought garlic bread. But I use leftover crusty french baguette (or uneaten part baked baguettes). Just chop into slices then pieces. Melt some butter and add crushed garlic cloves, then dunk the bread into the butter and garlic mix to coat. Top the casserole with the bread, then grate cheese over, and bake until cooked through and the bread topping has gone crispy. Delicious and so garlicky.
Alternatively, if you’d rather add more veg, why not switch the cream cheese for a tomato and basil based sauce and leave out the pesto.
Pesto chicken casserole
Low carb / keto pesto chicken casserole
- 1 chicken breast cooked and cut into pieces
- 1 clove garlic crushed or diced
- 1/2 small red onion peeled and diced
- 2 handfuls fresh spinach
- 1/2 red pepper deseeded and diced
- 6 cherry tomatoes halved
- 2 tbsp full fat cream cheese
- 1 tbsp green pesto
- parmesan or cheddar grated (optional)
- 1 tbsp oil or butter (Use olive oil, avocado or another keto friendly oil)
In either an oven tray or oven proof frying pan, heat the oil then fry the onion for a couple of minutes until translucent, then add the garlic
If you only have raw chicken, chop into even sized pieces, then fry, turning over until cooked through.
Add the pepper, or whatever other veg you're using to cook through/soften, then the cooked chicken pieces to warm through.
Wilt the spinach
Stir in the cream cheese and pesto to coat everything. You might want to thin the cream cheese first by mixing in a small amount of milk (or a little double cream or chicken stock if sticking to low carb) before adding it.
Season with ground black pepper to taste. Add the cherry tomatoes and the grated cheese over the top.
Bake in preheated oven (180C) until hot, and the cheese is melted and bubbling
Serve as it is (or if not low carb with crusty bread).
One of the great things about keto casseroles is that you really can add more veg as you want. And the recipe is easy to scale up to feed more people.