This is a hoity-toity take on the classic noodle casserole, which I love to eat, but hate to have to work off at the gym. And since I really loathe the gym, I decided to try a healthier version. Now, this isn't exactly diet food, and you will still need to watch your portions, but it's not made from canned fatty soup, and it doesn't contain 2 cups of cheese. So it's a lot lower in fat and sodium, and has plenty of vegetables. The best part is that it's truly a complete meal in one dish.
1 head cauliflower, chopped into bite-size pieces
1 pkg chopped spinach, thawed
2 chicken cutlets, off bone, no skin, cut into bite-size pieces
1 small onion, peeled
5 - 8 whole cloves
1/4 cup butter or olive oil
1/4 cup flour
2 cups lowfat or skim milk
1/3 bag egg noodles, cooked to very al dente
1 cup cheddar cheese (can use lowfat cheese)
salt and black pepper to taste
First, make the bechamel this way: Preheat oven to 350. Melt the butter (or heat the oil) in an oven-proof saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and make a nice, toasty roux. Whisk in the milk until smooth. Stick the cloves into the onion and then place the whole onion into the milk sauce. Place the saucepan into the oven and let thicken about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, saute the chicken in a drizzle of olive oil until cooked through. Remove from pan and set aside. In same pan, saute the spinach and season with salt. Set aside. Cook the egg noodles and drain. You can use the same water to boil the cauliflower, about 5-7 minutes, until tender-crisp.
To assemble: When the bechamel is done, remove the onion and discard. Stir in the sauteed spinach until evenly distributed throughout the sauce. Then, in a large bowl, mix together all ingredients except for HALF the cheddar cheese. Add freshly ground black pepper and more salt to taste. Pour chicken mixture into a lightly greased casserole pan and push down into corners and smooth the top. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Bake 35 minutes at 350.
I'm planning to make this again tomorrow night, and will put up photos then. In the meantime, enjoy!