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Vegetarian King Ranch Chicken Casserole? Yes!

This fall I challenged myself to make a vegetarian King Ranch Chicken Casserole after coming across the dish several times on various food blogs. People rave about this recipe and being a Midwesterner, I’m always up for a good cheesy casserole. But how could I make it meatless? Without resorting to faux meats?

I found the answer in cauliflower.

Vegetarian King Ranch Chicken Casserole
Cauliflower stands in for many a starchy carb these days, but I’ve been using cauliflower florets as a swap for chicken for years. It doesn’t work in every scenario but for casseroles? It totally works. Especially one with a creamy sauce like this one. If you’ve had cauliflower “mac” and cheese before, it’s kind of the same thing as in this vegetarian King Ranch Chicken casserole—the cauliflower is folded into a creamy green chile-infused sauce with torn corn tortillas and, of course, cheese.

I wanted to make this vegetarian King Ranch Cauliflower Casserole sans canned soup, so I adapted my version from A Spicy Perspective’s fabulous soupless recipe. (Spellcheck thinks I want to say “soulless” here rather than soupless, but I promise you this recipe has soul.)

What I love about making a big casserole for dinner is that it feeds my family for two days. I know some people have aversions to leftovers, but my opinion is that those are not the people who are doing the cooking. Because if you’re doing the work, why wouldn’t you want a night off?! I want a night off! Dangit! This is why when I’m putting together vegetarian meal plans for Green Plate Club, I put leftovers to good use.

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King Ranch Cauliflower Casserole

Vegetarian King Ranch Chicken Casserole

A vegetarian version of the potluck classic, this creamy, cheesy casserole is one of my family’s favorites.

  • Author: Green Plate Club
  • Prep Time: 10mins
  • Cook Time: 30mins
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x
Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 (16-ounce) container sour cream
  • 1 (16-ounce) jar salsa verde (mild or hot)
  • 3 (4-ounce) cans diced mild green chiles
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 5 cups steamed cauliflower florets (about 1 medium cauliflower)
  • 3 cups shredded Mexican-blend cheese
  • 12 white corn tortillas, torn into bite-sized pieces

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400ºF. Grease a large rectangular baking dish with oil or cooking spray.
  2. Melt the butter in an extra-large skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are softened, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat.
  3. Stir the sour cream, salsa, chiles, cilantro and cumin into the skillet with the onions. Fold in the cauliflower and season to taste with additional salt and pepper.
  4. Spoon a third of the cauliflower mixture into the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Top with 1 cup of cheese, then one-half of the torn tortillas. Repeat with another third of the cauliflower mixture, 1 cup of cheese, and tortillas, then spoon remaining cauliflower mixture over the final layer of tortillas and top with the remaining 1 cup of cheese.
  5. Bake uncovered for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown on top and bubbling on edges. Let the casserole cool for 5 minutes, then serve.

Photo by Sunny Frantz

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