Healthy spinach and artichoke combine with cream and chicken in this spinach artichoke chicken casserole! This dish has it all: lots of protein, vegetables, and flavor!
Enjoying vegetables on the keto diet
Some people believe that the keto diet is inherently unhealthy, filled with just eating meat and cheese. One of the most frequently asked questions is: “But what will I eat other than meat and cheese?”, after I explain the general avoidance of carbohydrates from grains, root vegetables, and many fruits. But there is a myriad of vegetables readily available on the keto diet!
Generally, keto-friendly vegetables are cruciferous OR those that are green, leafy, and grow above ground. “Cruciferous” refers to the flowers of plants forming the shape of a cross and will be covered in a separate post. Spinach and artichokes follow the second rule, being green, leafy, and growing above ground. I never thought of artichokes as particularly leafy until I learned that artichokes come from the flowering portion of the plant. What we eat as an artichoke is a tough leafy nest surrounding a future flower. Due to increased architecture compared to the floppier spinach leaves, there is significantly more carbohydrate in artichokes. However, it is still a highly reasonable amount for the volume of food (about 12 net carbs in a 14 oz can of artichokes).
Any leafy part of a plant tends to be low carb. If you buy beets, carrots, daikons, or basically any vegetable with green tops, you can slice them off and prepare them separately. I’ll post a series of easy ways to prep these tops (usually discarded and wasted!) in the future. Other great source of leafy greens are plants which grow just as leaves, like spinach and swiss chard. And generally, cruciferous vegetables (of which there are over 20 distinct plants) grow as mostly leaves (like cabbage!)
Why are bouillon cubes in this recipe?
The recipe which inspired this one uses chicken stock. I don’t like to keep chicken stock or chicken broth around the house – it’s expensive, and it goes bad after opening. Bouillon cubes are cheaper and don’t go bad. While they replace chicken stock here, bouillon cubes are a great way to add flavor to almost any sauce.
How much sauce do you want?
The inspiration for this recipe used less chicken and vegetables by far, with the same amount of sauce ingredients, leading to a much higher sauce to substance ratio. My family enjoys the recipe even more with the recipe as I make it here, but we really enjoy spinach and artichokes. I also wished to clearly distinguish this recipe from both a spinach artichoke dip which happens to have chicken and a spinach artichoke chicken soup. But if you want higher volume of creamy sauce, you can alter the recipe in one of the following ways:
- Add the Parmesan cheese into the sauce before adding the spinach and artichokes. Stir until the cheese has melted.
- Add heavy whipping cream to the sauce before adding the spinach and artichokes.
- Double the cream cheese to 16 ounces.
- Reduce the chicken and vegetables, while keeping the cream cheese content the same.
Spinach Artichoke Chicken Casserole
- 3-4 lb Chicken Thighs, Boneless and Skinless
- 4 Garlic Cloves, minced
- 8 oz Cream Cheese
- 2 Chicken Bouillon Cubes
- 8 oz Water
- 18 oz Frozen Spinach, thawed
- 2 cans Artichokes (14 oz each), quartered in brine
- ¼ cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese optional
- Salt, as desired
- Pepper, as desired
- Heat a large skillet (or Dutch oven) over medium-high heat. Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Place chicken thighs in the warmed skillet, browning on each side for about 3-4 minutes. Season each side with salt and pepper while they are cooking.
- Mince the garlic cloves while the chicken cooks. Then add minced garlic to the skillet once the chicken is browned on each side and sauté for another 2 minutes.
- Add block of cream cheese to the skillet and break up. Wait for the cream cheese to heat through and smooth out any clumps.
- Add bouillon cubes and water to the pan and bring to a simmer. Break up the bouillon cubes.
- While sauce comes to simmer, squeeze the water out of the spinach by compressing in a colander. Chop the artichokes. Add drained spinach and chopped artichokes to the pan once the sauce is simmering.
- Remove from heat. Transfer to oven-safe dish (or leave in Dutch oven). Add shredded cheese to the top of the casserole (optional). Bake for about 35 minutes until the casserole is bubbly.