Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
22 Aug

Moroccan Chicken Casserole

We all know the saying: variety is the spice of life.

Everyone craves variety on some level, especially when it comes to what we’re eating. What is the easiest way to add variety to your meals? Turn that phrase around and you’ll have the answer: Spice is the variety of life in the kitchen.

Take a look at your spice rack. Salt, pepper, maybe some dried oregano. How about paprika and cinnamon? What about cumin, turmeric, or coriander? These aromatic seasonings can enhance anything you’re cooking. If you’re overwhelmed by all the options in the spice aisle, consider using a spice blend such as curry powder, Cajun rub or Chinese five spice. A tablespoon or less sprinkled over meat before you cook it will add a whole new dimension of flavor. If you’re feeling adventurous, buy a bunch of different spices and play around with combinations.

A blend of cumin, paprika, coriander, turmeric and cinnamon gives chicken and cauliflower a Moroccan twist. The spices mostly add depth of flavor, with just a little bit of heat. If you want a dish that’s truly spicy, that’s where cayenne comes in.

If you’re just starting to add a new variety of spices to your pantry, the spice aisle at a grocery store is a decent place to get started. If you’re really serious about exploring spices, though, you’ll want to look for either a store that specializes in just spices or an ethnic grocery store where you can buy small amounts in bulk. Ideally, buy your spices whole and grind them with a coffee grinder right before use.

Either way, remember this – spices don’t stay fragrant and flavorful forever. They fade over time. If you’ve had a spice for six months or more, stick your nose in the jar. If there’s no aroma it’s likely there won’t be any flavor either.


1 head cauliflower
2-3 pounds of chicken
2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons ginger root, finely chopped or grated
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 tsp cayenne (optional – the other spices will already add a bit of spiciness to the dish, so only add the cayenne if you want a really spicy dish)
1 red pepper, cut into thin strips
28-ounce can of diced tomatoes (do not drain)
1/2 cup minced parsley or cilantro
2 tsp salt
1 lemon


Preheat oven to 375.

The base of the casserole is cauliflower grated into a rice-like texture. Chop the head of cauliflower into small pieces. Push the pieces through a food processor using the grating blade. Spread the grated cauliflower out in a 9×13 rectangular baking pan.

Salt and pepper the chicken. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a deep pan over high heat. Add the chicken, browning well, about 3-5 minutes a side.

Remove the chicken from the hot pan and set aside. Turn heat down to medium and add onion, ginger, garlic and carrots. Cook until the onions are soft. Add remaining tablespoon of butter and all spices. Stir well.

Add red pepper, the can of tomatoes, minced parsley or cilantro and salt. Return the chicken to the pot and simmer for 3-5 minutes.

Pour the chicken mixture over the cauliflower and mix really well, so the cauliflower is completely covered by the sauce. Slice a lemon into thin slices and lay on top of the casserole. Cover the pan with tin foil and bake for 35 minutes. Remove the tinfoil and cook for 25 minutes more.

Garnish with more fresh parsley or cilantro before serving.

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. I’ll have to buy some fresh spices so I can make this dish. It sounds great.

    Ingrid wrote on August 22nd, 2009
  2. It’s about TIME for me to win a contest.

    Kevin wrote on August 22nd, 2009
  3. This looks delicious- well done! Can’t wait to try…

    Andy wrote on August 22nd, 2009
  4. I tried this recipe tonight. It might be improved if the dry spices were toasted first, until fragrant, before the onions and other vegetables are sauteed. And, the tomatoes, with all their juice, plus the rendered juices from the bell pepper and riced cauliflower makes the vegetables watery. Last, unless the chicken pieces are small (I used two breasts from 4.5 lb. chicken, with the bones and cut in half) demands more time in the oven.

    Just saw “Julie & Julia,” which was terrific, and it put me in a culinary perfectionist mode!


    David wrote on August 22nd, 2009
    • I sauteed the spices with the onions, garlic and ginger. I also substituted coconut oil in place of the butter. I read a book on Indian cooking that talked about sauteing the spices in oil. I agree that the vegetables were too watery and I would, like you suggested, cut back on the juice in the tomatoes.

      Heather wrote on August 25th, 2009
  5. You always have the greatest looking food photos…

    Gregg wrote on August 22nd, 2009
  6. Thanks for the inspiration and the recipes (of all kinds) to go with it!

    Donna wrote on August 22nd, 2009
  7. mmmmhhh mmmmmhhh mmmhhhh looks good.

    Got a question for you though – you mention grinding your spices in a coffee grinder. Do you ever run into problems with tastes from the last spice you ground or that of coffee?

    Thanks and peace,

    Stephen Hubbard wrote on August 22nd, 2009
    • Stephen, use a different grinder specifically for spices.
      (I guess this would be a better place to answer than on your FB page.)

      Rachel wrote on February 21st, 2010
  8. Made it and was great. I think more cauliflower would have worked well, it soaked up more juice than I would have wanted. Definitely add the paprika.

    BurritoKid wrote on August 22nd, 2009
  9. That cauliflower-rice looks like a great idea. Great base for curries I bet.

    Tim Lee wrote on August 22nd, 2009
  10. Growing Cauliflower in the garden here .. I can’t wait to try this one.

    Anthony wrote on August 23rd, 2009
  11. Looks like a winner, gonna have to try it later this week.

    Magnus wrote on August 23rd, 2009
  12. I’m new to all this. I’m just learning about cauliflower rice. I will give it a try.

    Pat C. wrote on August 23rd, 2009
  13. That looks great. I have never seen anyone make cauliflower look like rice. I will definately be saving this recipe in my Primal Recipe book. Looks great…

    Pete wrote on August 23rd, 2009
  14. mmmm…spices! i would actually just skip the grocery store altogether. they are always way overpriced and never as fresh and flavorful as buying in bulk. we owe the circumnavigation of the globe to spices…they’re that motivating!

    jennifer wrote on August 23rd, 2009
  15. Wow … I was just thinking what to make with the cauliflower, chicken and peppers I have in my fridge! Weird coincidence, so glad I browsed MDA before going to the kitchen … an alternative to the British Sunday roast :)

    Mark wrote on August 23rd, 2009
  16. Hey I had to Google what ‘cilantro’ is, we call it coriander here, so this has been educational too

    Mark wrote on August 23rd, 2009
    • We call the leaves ‘cilantro’ and the seeds (and ground up seeds spice) ‘coriander’.

      BestSelf wrote on August 23rd, 2009
  17. Ooh – I love it. Love Morrocan food so much!

    BestSelf wrote on August 23rd, 2009
  18. mmm, tasty

    Eric B wrote on August 23rd, 2009
  19. Yum. Always good to see “gourmet” recipes. I eat about a dozen salads every week and on the weekends I like to make something special and homemade. Even non-primals would love this. Last night I made a Shepards Pie and used the pureed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes. Filling was grass-feed ground round, green beans, carrots, onions and peas with some rosemary and beef boullion. Used the “thicken/thin” product to thicken the gravy and it was unbelievable!!

    Cherie wrote on August 23rd, 2009
  20. I think it would benefit from some mint.

    bklnyc wrote on August 23rd, 2009
  21. yummo!!!

    kristen wrote on August 23rd, 2009
  22. Made this. Amazing!

    Only addition was a liberal amount of my new dried heirloom tomato powder.

    Josh roman wrote on August 23rd, 2009
  23. yum this looks good

    roman bartocci wrote on August 23rd, 2009
  24. I love Moroccan food! I usually prepare my tagine this way, although I use the lemons I preserved instead of fresh.

    Shannon wrote on August 24th, 2009
  25. Looks great. Going to try it this weekend.

    Jason wrote on August 24th, 2009
  26. I made this dish last night and it was super good. I would make a few slight changes since it was a little soupy. I would use only about 1/2 the liquid in the canned tomatoes. It would also be great with green onions added. The cilantro really gave it nice flavor and I used full on cayenne pepper so it was a little spicy. It’s definitely a makeover.

    Heather wrote on August 25th, 2009
  27. I made this for company and they all asked (before I told them what it was) how I made my “rice” so sweet. They were flabbergasted when I told them it was cauli rice! Delicious and I will definitely make it again!

    Abby wrote on August 26th, 2009
  28. I made this tonight and it was amazing! Followed the recipe exactly and it came out perfectly – will definitely be making this again soon :)

    – Pete (Melbourne, Australia)

    Pete wrote on August 30th, 2009
  29. This looks great and I plan on making it this week. Has anyone made this the night before and baked the next day? Just wondering if that is an option or if it would get soggy. Thoughts?

    Angela wrote on August 31st, 2009
  30. I love this dish, but found it hard to prepare it all at dinner time with screaming kids. Next time I will prep all the veggies etc ahead of time. Also I made the entire dish in ONE electric skillet. WAY LESS mess and saved a lot of time. Husband is asking for it again.

    Jill wrote on September 17th, 2009
  31. Looks delicious, I wanna try making it soon. Can anyone advise the temperature for baking?

    Jessica wrote on September 21st, 2009
  32. Son-in-law made it for their family. Our grandson asked if the white stuff was rice and my son-in-law said “Sure is”. He ate every bit of it as did my granddaughter. Wife made it for us today, wonderful. We both loved it. Don’t miss the rice at all.

    Thanks a bunch

    withtao wrote on January 14th, 2010
  33. I made this last weekend, and it was amazing! I used shredded chicken instead of whole w/bones, and garnished with a little sour cream, but otherwise followed the recipe exactly.

    This dish is highly recommended!

    benevolentforce wrote on January 18th, 2010
  34. I made this with chicken breast with skin but no bones. I put a little olive oil on the onion and carrot mixture because 1 tbsp wasn’t enough for the whole pot of veggies. My cauliflower was the consistency of couscous because I have a mini food processor and it doesn’t have alternate blades.

    I thought this dish was DELICIOUS! I used cilantro and squeezed lemon juice all over it.

    Rachel wrote on February 22nd, 2010
  35. I made this dish last night, and it was DELICIOUS! Thank you for the recipe. :-)

    Anna Pinsky wrote on April 6th, 2010
  36. YUMMO!
    i know what im making tonight!

    norcalgal wrote on May 12th, 2010
  37. I made this tonight for my little family–I was missing some of the spices, namely tumeric, threw in squash and zucchini with the onions and used salsa instead of tomatoes because that’s what I had. It was AWESOME! My hubby loved it (and he’s a chef, so he normally tells me about eight things to change) and even better, my two year old daughter ate gobs of it.

    Officially added to the roster of things we cook in this house.


    Shay wrote on June 22nd, 2010

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