The big man cooks- Italian chicken and rice casserole

The shivering Winter temperatures here in Australia makes one crave nothing but a heater, searing hot coffee and a warming meal screaming comfort. While many typical comfort foods tend to be high in calories and saturated fats (traditional lasagna, I’m looking at you!), there are a million and one ways to modify a recipe to cut down on both, and the end result can be even tastier than imagined!

Here is a simple recipe for an Italian chicken and rice casserole, packed full of nutrients and flavour, thanks to some hidden vegetables. And no such casserole can be complete without a generous amount of cheese! I make a big batch of this clean casserole, and freeze leftovers for easy meals throughout the week!

Italian Chicken and rice Casserole
Serves- 4
Prep- 15 minutes
Cooking- 50 minutes

  • 500 grams ground chicken (can sub for any ground meat) 
  • 250 grams button mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 1/4 green cabbage, finely chopped
  • 1 head of cauliflower, chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 sticks celery, finely chopped
  • Minced garlic (1-2 TBS depending on taste)
  • 800 gram tin of diced tomatoes in juice (Or 2 x 400 gram cans)
  • 2 cups of cooked rice (I used brown, you can use jasmine/basmati/white)
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded reduced fat cheese, divided (I used 25% reduced fat tasty)
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • Garlic salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp mixed herbs
  • Cayenne pepper/red pepper flakes (optional)
  1. Spray a large pan with cooking spray on a medium heat. Once heated, gently fry the onions and garlic. After 5 minutes, add in the celery and the mushrooms. Stir for about 3-5 minutes until mushrooms and celery are cooked through. Add in the garlic salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. 
  2. Add the ground chicken (or meat of choice) into the pan and crumble to ensure it is broken into pieces. Stir through for approximately 5 minutes, until brown. Add in the tinned tomatoes and the tomato sauce and allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the sauce thickens well. 
  3. In a microwave safe dish, microwave the shredded cabbage and the cauliflower for 2-3 minutes, or until tender. Set aside. Pre heat the oven to 180 degrees. Spray a large baking dish/lasagna dish with cooking spray. 
  4. Take the chicken mixture off the heat and let it stand uncovered. In a  large mixing bowl, place cauliflower, cabbage and cooked brown rice into it and mix until well incorporated. Get the chicken sauce mixture and pour into the bowl and stir well until completely combined. Mix through 1 cup of the shredded cheese and then transfer the whole mixture into the baking dish.
  5. Put the casserole into the oven and allow to bake for approximately 10 minutes. While the oven is still on, take out the casserole and top with the other half cup of shredded cheese and the half cup of parmesan cheese and put back in the oven for an extra 10 minutes, until the cheese has melted. 
  6. Slice into 4 pieces and allow to cool completely, before freezing up the extra portions. 
Note- Feel free to mix and match different vegetables here- you can add in broccoli, diced carrots, peas and corn- be creative and use up anything you have on hand! When reheating leftovers, you can use the microwave, but I personally love putting it in a single serving baking dish (as pictured below) and reheating in the oven. Extra cheese also doesn’t hurt 😉
All four servings in the baking dish

Single Serving in a dish
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