Ever take a look at non-Paleo cookbooks or Instagram feeds and see all those delicious looking grain salads and curse the day you learned grains don't do you any favors? Ugh. I get it. Those things are just perfect too for picnics and all the nice warm weathery things we are getting excited for as spring progresses and it's so hard to stop yourself from a bit of grain-envy at that moment.
However, us sneaky grain avoiders CAN have something kinda similar. I mean, it's not grains. And it's made of chicken. But really, it kind of gets the same idea across.
Picnic worthy? Check.
Ability to eat cold? Check.
Ability to eat warm? Check.
Ability to add all sorts of yummy things to it? Check.
Enter meat “grains”.
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So I wish I could take credit for this genius idea, but all credit for it goes to Rachel Bryant in her cookbook Nourish: The Paleo Healing Cookbook. She has a recipe in there for a Warm Chicken “Grain” Salad where she cooks ground chicken and then pulses it in the food processor a few times to break it up and voila, it resembles grain!
I loved the idea so much that I decided to make my own recipe using the same concept. It is super duper flavorful with all the roasted veggies and feels all bulky and filling from the meat “grains”. This has quickly become a favorite in our house.
It's also quite simple to make. First of all, look at this huge colorful pan of veggies that goes into it. So beautiful!
And then the finished product.
This dish is also one of the featured meals in my new Paleo meal plan!
- 1/2 Butternut Squash, peeled, deseeded, and cut into bite sized pieces
- 2 Zucchini, cut into thick rounds
- 2 Bell Peppers, cut into bite sized pieces
- 3 tbs Olive Oil, divided
- Sea Salt
- 1 bunch Asparagus, tough ends removed and cut into small pieces
- 1 cup Pecans, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup dried Cranberries (fruit-juice sweetened for Whole30)
- 1 lb Ground Chicken
- 1 tsp Garlic Powder
- Preheat the oven to 425 F. Put a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet. Cut up the squash, zucchini, and bell peppers as listed to the left and then spread out on the baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tbs of olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cut the asparagus and roughly chop the pecans. Then heat a frying pan over medium heat and add the remaining 1 tbs of olive oil. Add the ground chicken to the pan, breaking it up into several large pieces with your hands. Sprinkle the garlic powder and another 1/2 tsp of sea salt over the chicken and using a spatula, mix it into the chicken gently without breaking it up too much more. Cover the pan and cook for 3 minutes, then turn the chicken over and cook for 3 more, or until the chicken is no longer pink. Note: If making a double batch of this the cooking time for the chicken will be longer. Once the chicken is done, remove with a slotted spoon onto a plate covered with a paper towel.
- When the 20 min is up for the veggies, add the asparagus and pecans to the sheet pan and put back in the oven for 10 more minutes.
- Put the ground chicken in a food processor and pulse 5-6 times, until the chicken is broken up into little “grains”. Don’t over process! If making a double batch, do this in two batches. When the veggies are done, mix in a large bowl with the chicken and the dried cranberries and serve.