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Santa Fe Chicken and Lentil Casserole with corn, green lentils, chicken, cayenne, cilantro and cheesy lentils baked healthy and kid approved. | ifoodreal.com

One morning I woke up to an email in my inbox – Take the Canadian Lentils Recipe Revelations Challenge and You Could Win $2,000!

Mixed feelings right away. At 6AM. Good morning, Olena!

1. $2,000?! Whoa. Cool! The two week all-inclusive vacation in Mexico suddenly was in front of my eyes – me and Alex sunbathing, surrounded by servers with pina coladas and kids building the sand castles.

2. What on earth do you have to do with lentils in order to win $2,000?! I mean besides slow cooking the heck out of them in a green lentil curry, drowning in spinach lentil soup or “marrying” with spices and coconut milk in Moroccan lentil salad?!

Santa Fe Chicken and Lentil Casserole with corn, green lentils, chicken, cayenne, cilantro and cheesy lentils baked healthy and kid approved. | ifoodreal.com

So, honestly, I decided not to participate and moved on. I guess being an immigrant and always pushed to the limits, I couldn’t get the recipe challenge out of my head. On top, 2 bags of cute organic green lentils kept staring at me every time I opened the pantry. Let me clarify how often I do that – 99 times per day, at least.

Two days ago I was driving somewhere and the lentil casserole idea hit me. I swear, one day I will hit my closed garage door at a speed of 5 mph. Anyways, I was thinking it’s time for a casserole. You guys are sick to your stomach from chocolate chia pudding and I honestly can’t eat Alex’s Ukrainian borscht anymore. It’s delicious, don’t get me wrong, honey! But he learnt how to make it and now nobody can’t stop him. He said we are having it on Friday again and I ate the last bowl on Monday.

Santa Fe Chicken and Lentil Casserole with corn, green lentils, chicken, cayenne, cilantro and cheesy lentils baked healthy and kid approved. | ifoodreal.com

Time for an enchilada casserole. Oh no, time for a Santa Fe Chicken and Lentil Casserole, my friends. Oh-la-la. Hi, beautiful, delicious, healthy and easy lentil casserole. I love you and my kids love you too. And did I tell you my kids do not eat lentils?! Well, now they do.

This lentil casserole will blow your mind, I promise! Even if you are not a huge lentil lover. Like you can’t hate lentils more than my kids. Come on, how old are you?! By the way, I’m 20. Hahaha. Luckily not. I was stupid back then. Haha, no thank you.

Anyways, the casserole. It is very easy to make an unhealthy and healthy casserole, both. Just think what you add. My rule of thumb for a healthy casserole: complex carbs in moderation, more lean protein and veggies, and keep cheese to reasonable amounts. Please do not drown your casseroles in cheese like Betty Crocker. Not good.

The list of ingredients might seem long but really it’s mostly spices that repeat themselves. I just broke down the recipe  nicely for you. Some chicken, of course green lentils, veggies, cheese, spices and cilantro. That’s it.

Santa Fe Chicken and Lentil Casserole with corn, green lentils, chicken, cayenne, cilantro and cheesy lentils baked healthy and kid approved. | ifoodreal.com

First cook your lentils. I added extra liquid for a reason, do not drain it. Make some flavourful golden brown chicken pieces. You could use chicken thighs too.

Then saute the onions, garlic and bell peppers until golden brown. Mix everything together with cheese and spices. Do not thaw the corn. Extra liquid is perfect for keeping the casserole moist during the baking.

Lentil Casserole a la Santa Fe with chicken, corn, green lentils, cayenne, cilantro and cheesy lentils baked healthy and kid approved. | ifoodreal.com

Then bake uncovered for 50 minutes. The casserole will be bubbly, moist and cheesy. Take it out of the oven, cover with foil and let rest for 30 mins. Really you could eat it right away, or photograph like me, if you have nothing to do. But it’s not ideal. You want your casserole to sit, the ingredients to marry each other and soak up the juices. Then it’s the best!

Santa Fe Chicken and Lentil Casserole with corn, green lentils, chicken, cayenne, cilantro and cheesy lentils baked healthy and kid approved. | ifoodreal.com

True Santa Fe Chicken experience – lots of cumin, the cayenne kick and cilantro freshness going on here. Combined with lentils cooked in chicken broth (highly recommended), tender chicken and gooey cheese => mind blowing combination. I promise!

And if you like this casserole a lot, could you please let Canadian Lentils know by liking this recipe on their Facebook page. And share with your friends and family, who you want to be healthy and sexy. Please, and thank you, and I love you, and now I love lentils. And if I don’t win, who cares?! You and me ate some yummy casserole. Although $2,000 would be nice. OK, even $400 Amazon gift card would do it. Enjoy!

Santa Fe Chicken and Lentil Casserole

Santa Fe Chicken and Lentil Casserole

Ingredients

    Lentils:
  • 1 + 1/2 cup green lentils, rinsed & drained
  • 3 cups chicken broth, low sodium
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • Chicken:
  • 2 lbs boneless & skinless chicken breasts, diced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • Cooking spray (I use Misto)
  • Vegetables:
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 5 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 large bell peppers, diced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • Cooking spray (I use Misto)
  • Mix Ins:
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups corn, frozen & unthawed
  • 2 cups (6.5 oz) Tex Mex or Colby Jacks cheese, shredded & divided
  • 2 tbsp jalapeño peppers, seeded & minced (or to taste)
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 cup cilantro, chopped & divided

Directions

  1. In a medium pot, combine lentils, chicken broth and salt. Bring to a boil on high, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 35 minutes. Do not drain excess liquid. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat large skillet on high and spray with cooking spray. Add chicken and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally and draining any liquid if necessary. Add cumin, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper and cook for another 5 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Return skillet to medium-high heat and spray with cooking spray. Add onion, garlic, bell peppers, cumin, salt and cayenne pepper and cook for 7 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally.
  4. Transfer to the bowl with chicken along with cooked lentils, diced tomatoes, corn, 1 cup cheese, jalapeño peppers, garlic powder, cumin and 1/2 cup cilantro. Mix gently with spatula enough to combine. You may want to taste and adjust the spiciness/salt of the dish with extra cayenne/jalapeño peppers/salt.
  5. Transfer the mixture to a 9 x 13 oven proof baking dish and level/press gently with spatula. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake uncovered for 50 mins. Remove casserole from the oven, cover with foil and let stand for half an hour before serving. Garnish with remaining cilantro, cut into 8 slices and serve hot.
  6. Storage Instructions: Refrigerate covered for up to 3 days or freeze in an air tight container for up to 3 months.
http://ifoodreal.com/chicken-and-lentil-casserole/

Nutritional Info

Servings Per Recipe: 8

Amount Per Serving = 1 slice:
Calories: 381.5
Total Fat: 11.9 g
Cholesterol: 76.4 mg
Sodium: 531.4 mg
Total Carbs: 33.4 g
Dietary Fiber: 9.2 g
Protein: 41.5 g
WW Points+: 10

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40 Comments

  1. Aggie

    This sounds amazing. I’m struggling to make dinner during the “witching hours” and have been hunting for healthy casserole recipes I can prepare during day then heat up. I love love love this!

    Reply
    • Olena

      I know. I find school mornings, between 7 – 8 AM and before dinner 5 – 6PM THE WORST hours of the day. Kids are going crazy, you are on a timer and food has to be served. I always come back to casseroles after toying around with fancy salads and stuffed chicken recipe LOL. Enjoy!:)

      Reply
  2. Vera (VerasCooking)

    I really enjoyed reading this post. I liked the phrase “Ingrediends to marry each other” .
    I will try this casserole, it looks really good. I have lentils in my pantry, and the soup is the only thing that I’ve ever cooked with them. Thanks for the idea.

    Reply
    • Olena

      Thank you, Vera. When it comes to soups, stews and casseroles, they do taste better after ingredients “marry” each other.:) I heard that on TV cooking show one day, from that NJ Italian chef Buddy. Let me know how it comes out. I know many people struggle with cooking lentils but they are awesome. Just need more pitching, like quinoa or chia needed.:)

      Reply
    • Olena

      For me, a busy mom, casseroles are a God sent. I need leftovers in my life and casseroles are perfect for that!:)

      Reply
  3. Julianne

    This was a delicious dish. My one worry is that somehow mine was heavy on the liquid? I followed the recipe to the ‘T’… but I wasn’t so much serving slices, as scoops. Lol. It was still very yummy. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Olena

      I had some liquid on the bottom right after cooking which got soaked up a lot after half an hour of letting the casserole cool. The casserole won’t be holding exactly in slices because there is not that much cheese in it for health reasons.:) You can add 1 more cup cheese or 1/2 less chicken stock to lentils next time. Glad you enjoyed it!:)

      Reply
  4. Olga G.

    Just made this today for dinner and it was so so good! It had the perfect amount of spice! 🙂

    Reply
  5. Mary

    I made this for dinner and it was delicious. I had extra liquid but carefully poured it out. The flavor was wonderful. Thanks for the recipe!

    Reply
  6. Sarah

    Omfreakingod. We LOVE your recipes at my house; I am such a fan of your website. Although at my house, I cannot get ANYONE to eat cilantro, so I’ve started substituting fresh baby spinach and parsley. And if I want the freshness, I use a bit of really fresh mint from the farmers’ market. Your recipes are really making a difference; I am waiting for a cookbook! Thank you!

    Reply
    • Olena

      Hi Sarah. Oh, thank you.:) You made my day. Parsley is a great alternative to cilantro or dill would work in some recipes. Haha, cookbook, maybe one day. But thank you for your kind words.:)

      Reply
      • Sarah

        Hey I mean it; it’s amazing and awesome and fun. Also oooo dill I didn’t even think of that. I will have to try it! Thank you! Please keep up the good work!

        Reply
  7. Lyuda

    Made this for dinner last and night EVERYONE loved it. Thank you so much!
    Love your blog!

    Reply
  8. Alicia

    This was amazing!!! So flavorful and filling. So far I have made 4 dishes from your website, this one, the cauliflower cheese bread, eggplant fritters, and the grilled Balsamic veggies. Thanks for sharing your awesomeness..LOL. I plan on making the layer greek dip and greek fish kabobs for the 4th. You rock!!!

    Reply
    • Olena

      Awe. Thank you so much for your comment! I wish I had more time to share. I have so many ideas…Anyways, so glad to hear you enjoyed my recipes.:)

      Reply
    • Olena

      You can leave the cheese out but the casserole would not stay as well together. Or you can use any cheese alternative but I haven’t tried. I know there are many soy and vegan cheeses.

      Reply
  9. ashley g

    trying for dinner tonight! pretty excited, I was curious if you think Id be able to add minute brown rice to it?

    Reply
    • Olena

      I never cooked with it so don’t know if it soaks up a lot of liquid or not. If not then more likely yes but you might need to add extra water in any case.

      Reply
  10. Haley

    sounds delicious! I have precooked lentils on hand from Trader Joes. Any idea how much liquid I should add to the dish?

    Reply
  11. Sheila

    2 thumbs up! I made this for lunch today. We were having our daughter and her boyfriend over for the game and I wanted something healthy. For you lentil haters out there you can hardly even tell they are there!!! There is still half left and 4 adults ate lunch so plenty for lunch this week which is a TOTAL bonus. Does take a bit to prepare, but totally worth it!!! Thank you Olena!!!

    Reply
    • Olena

      You are welcome, Sheila. Glad I could help you impress the most important people – those are hit and miss and nerve wracking to deal with at times lol.

      Reply
  12. Kristen

    You are wonderful!! Thank you so much for this recipe! I am a huge lentil lover and I am looking to eat them more often and in new ways. I can have them alone and be fine, but my husband is a meat lover, and he always loves my casseroles (that never involve goopy canned coups), so he will love this too. Can’t wait to try it!

    Reply
  13. Deb

    Help! Ive made this for the second time and it’s been mush both times(basically a stew consistency).
    You say to keep excess liquid. My lentils are mushy, maybe that’s it?
    Tips?

    Reply
    • Olena

      Hm. This casserole is on a liquidy side. Do you mean mush casserole overall like too liquidy or that you want firmer lentils? If you want firmer lentils do not keep extra liquid and see how that works.

      Reply
  14. Cassia

    Olena, this recipe is incredibly good! I was trying to find lentil recipes and you saved me! Im so in love with your recipe that this is my second time making it in 1 week! Thank you very very much!

    Reply
  15. Meemo

    I just made this for dinner. It was absolutely freaking delicious! I only had red lentils, so I used those and it turned out great! Very flavorful and comforting. Thank you!

    Reply

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