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Casserole Zucchini Boats

We don’t know about you, but to us, there’s nothing like a homemade casserole! They remind us of comfort, of home, and make us feel as warm on the inside as they are on the outside. Something we never realized as kids was just how simple something so delicious could be for mom or dad to make; because surely something this good had to take a lot of time and effort, right?! No wonder casseroles rank in households as favorite dishes to prepare on a night when dinner needs to be done fast, and when you want some leftovers that will carry through the next couple of days. These casserole zucchini boats are no exception to simplicity and deliciousness, and they’re a healthy twist on what is traditionally full of excess carbs and fats. You won’t even miss the potatoes and pasta when you taste this one!

 

For our recipe here, we’ve used “Chicken and Broccoli” casserole as our base! Instead of pasta, we’ve nestled this savory filling into a zucchini boat (a zucchini halved with the insides scraped out). We’ve replaced the heavy milk, cream, and sour cream with Greek yogurt. If you’re thinking “ew, no way!” then you’ve just GOT to give it a try first - we promise with all of the other flavors going on, you’d never even know if we hadn’t told you! The key to this recipe is the shredded chicken. While you can likely find a rotisserie chicken or precooked variety in your local grocery store, these are often packed with salt, fats, and other preservatives that can slow down weight loss. 

 

The good news is that homemade shredded chicken is about as easy to make as driving to the grocery store to buy it (and far less expensive). No special tools needed; just a pot, chicken breast, water, and your choice of seasonings! For those of you who’ve never poached chicken breast before, we’ve provided an easy 3-step recipe at the end of this blog! One of the best parts about this recipe is while the steps may seem like a lot, the timing of this recipe is ultra-efficient. So for those of you who don’t have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen after everything else you’ve got going on in your day, this one fits comfortably into that busy schedule! Once you’ve got the zucchini baking, all of the rest of the prepwork is done and ready by the time you’re ready to “load your boats”!

 

Not a fan of zucchini? No problem! You can substitute the zucchini halves for your favorite plan-friendly zoodle, spaghetti squash, or go a totally different direction and stuff the filling into a pepper! Or if you want to ditch the vessel altogether, just warm up the filling and serve alongside your favorite MRC-friendly vegetable and carbohydrate. The possibilities are endless with this easy to make comfort recipe! 

 

Ingredients:

  •  2 med-large zucchinis
  • 2 TBSP grass-fed butter, melted
  • 1.5 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 4 oz. chicken breast, shredded*
  • 6 oz. broccoli or broccolini florets, uncooked
  • 2 TBSP plain, non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 2 oz. green onion
  • Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

 

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Cut zucchini in half lengthwise. Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds and insides until you’re left with a shell between ¼ - ½ inch thick.
  3. Pour or brush melted butter on the inside (bowl side) of each zucchini boat and season with sea salt and black pepper. Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes.
  4. While zucchini is cooking, shred your chicken, grate your cheese, cut broccoli florets into smaller pieces, and chop your green onion. Set grated cheese aside. Set green onion aside.
  5. Combine shredded chicken and broccoli florets in a bowl with the Greek yogurt. Season with black pepper.
  6. Once the zucchini has finished cooking, remove from the oven, and fill boats with the chicken and broccoli filling.
  7. Sprinkle grated cheese on top and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes; until the cheese is melted and beginning to brown.
  8. Garnish with chopped green onion, and enjoy!

 

Servings: 2 | Serving Size: 2 “boat” halves (or one whole zucchini) | Replaces: 1 protein, 1 vegetable, 1 healthy fat

 

*A note about shredded chicken: making shredded chicken at home is easy – not to mention less expensive and healthier than store-bought rotisserie or pre-packaged varieties! You can save the leftovers for up to 4 days in the fridge or freeze to use later!

The first step is to poach your chicken breasts. This 3-step process (plus a 4th to check for doneness) is about as easy as it gets!

  1. Place boneless, skinless chicken breasts in the bottom of a large pot and season them. A generous pinch of black pepper, a pinch of sea salt, and a bay leaf or other dried or fresh herbs work great!
  2. Cover the chicken breasts with one inch of water.
  3. Place the pot on the stove, and bring the water to a gentle boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat and let simmer for 8 to 16 minutes.
  4. You can remove the chicken when it’s cooked to 160 degrees F. Place on a plate, cover it, and let rest for five minutes. The carryover cooking will bring your chicken to fully cooked 165 degrees F as measured by a meat thermometer.

The easiest way to shred poached chicken is with a hand mixer! Place the chicken in a large mixing bowl, then use a hand mixer on low speed to break the chicken into shreds. If you don’t have a hand mixer, then you can shred the chicken the old-fashioned way by using two forks to pull it apart. Don’t mind getting your hands a little dirty or want something fun the whole family can help out with? Use your fingers to pull apart and shred the chicken! Just be sure that the chicken has rested until it’s cool enough to handle first!

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