Zucchini and Chicken Rice Skillet is a creamy and flavorful recipe filled with different textures. It’s incredibly easy to make as it all comes together in one skillet. The dish has earthy mushrooms, aromatic onions and garlic, fresh and bright zucchini, hearty chicken, and rice. The cream sauce is light and creamy, but there is actually no heavy cream at all; instead almond milk, broth, parmesan, and cornstarch create the perfect amount of creaminess. And it’s Gluten Free!
Zucchini is so Good For You!
Zucchini is super good for you (see below for benefits) and when it’s in season during the summer, it’s in abundance and the price is right! Some other great ways to use zucchini are Parmesan Zucchini Chips, layer it into an Enchilada Casserole, roast it with Red Pepper & Corn and top with an Egg, add it to a Quinoa Crust (or any other) Pizza, make zucchini noodles or just grill it. So many options!
I feel like Zucchini gets overlooked in the health department, but pay attention, because it is really good for you! Zucchini is low in calories, carbs and sugars, so it is a great option for Low-Carb eaters or those looking to cut back on calories. BUT, and here is the part many may not realize, it is high in essential nutrients like potassium, manganese, and antioxidants like vitamin C and vitamin A. So if you are looking to replace high calorie or carb ingredients in your meals, look no further, because Zucchini is your man – or woman! Several of the options I mention above are great for just that.
Do I have to use Almond Milk?
This recipe uses Almond Milk, but you can use any milk that you prefer, as long as it is unsweetened. I started drinking almond milk a few years ago when my daughter needed dairy free. I was worried about the taste having grown up on regular cow’s milk all my life. But, I can tell you I love the taste! Also, unsweetened almond milk is lower in calories than other milks, it is cholesterol free, free of saturated fat, and is naturally lactose free. Most brands supplement with calcium, so be sure to check labels for content. For this recipe, be sure to buy the unsweetened plain/original almond milk as you do not want sweetened or flavored.
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PREP-AHEAD STEPS TO MAKE YOUR ZUCCHINI AND CHICKEN RICE
You are busy, so these are the steps you can do a day or two in advance to prepare food ahead! (See the recipe below for more details)
In terms of prepping ahead for this recipe, its just really getting the veggies ready…dicing the zucchini, dicing the onion, cleaning and slicing the mushrooms.
For the chicken, you can roast this ahead, but my TIP: buy already grilled chicken from the deli counter or a rotisserie chicken for super easy prep.
Cooking this meal is simple because everything goes into ONE skillet in stages.
In the skillet, you will want to start with the mushrooms, onions, and garlic. These are the backdrop flavors for this dish and you want to get the flavors and aromas going early. The Zucchini is added as the last veggie and only cooks for a couple minutes before adding the sauce, so that it doesn’t turn to mush.
TIP: When coating the skillet with oil, I love using an Olive Oil Sprayer! You can coating a pan with oil using much less and getting an even distribution without having to brush it around. Store-bough aerosols contain chemicals and toxins, but a fillable sprayer sprays out exactly what you put into it, so you can feel good about what you are putting on your food.
Now comes the sauce, which includes broth, almond milk, and a gluten free thickener. Instead of making a roux with flour, I went the gluten free route here by making a slurry of cornstarch and almond milk. For this recipe, be sure to buy the unsweetened plain/original almond milk as you will not be pleasantly surprised if you get sweet vanilla!
Note, just like any thickener you want to make sure you are stirring as it warms up so that when it starts to thicken it is even and not clumpy. You want to be able to see the pan when you scrape the liquid with a spoon.
After making the sauce, add the diced chicken, the parmesan cheese, the cooked rice, and some of the parsley to taste. Mix to combine.
Serve, garnish with fresh parsley.
That’s it! ENJOY! 😍 Carrie
Zucchini and Chicken Rice Skillet
Zucchini and Chicken Rice Skillet is a creamy and flavorful recipe filled with earthy mushrooms, aromatic onions, fresh and bright zucchini, hearty chicken, and rice. It's incredibly easy to make as it all comes together in one skillet. The cream sauce is light and creamy, but has no heavy cream at all. This is a summer recipe that's a gluten free, easy recipe, and a one pan meal!
- 8 oz Cremini Mushrooms, sliced (white button are fine too)
- 1 Zucchini, Medium
- 1 Onion, Small (yellow or white)
- 1 Clove Garlic
- 1 Tbls Salt (to be added as a dash here and a dash there)
- 1 Tbls Fresh Ground Pepper to be added as a dash here and a dash there
- 3 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 cup White Long Grain Rice, uncooked
- 8 oz Chicken Breast
- 1 cup Chicken Broth
- 1 cup Plain Unsweetened Almond Milk you can substitute regular milk
- 2 Tbls Corn Starch
- 1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
- 3 Tbls Italian Parsley, Chopped
Preheat oven to 400 F degrees.
Dice the zucchini by cutting it in half lengthwise, then into quarters. Slice into 1/2 inch sliced triangles.
Dice the onion. Mince the garlic. Rough chop the parsley to get 3 Tbls.
Pre-Cook the Chicken: Put the chicken breast on a baking sheet and rub with a drizzle of Olive Oil and dash of salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until internal temp reaches 165 degrees F. When the chicken is done, dice it into bite-size pieces.
Make the rice according to package instructions. NOTE: You could do this step in advance and just reheat at this point.
Preheat a large frying pan on high heat. Add 2 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil to coat the bottom and then add the sliced mushrooms with a dash of salt and pepper. Spread the mushrooms into one layer and cook for 5 minutes to get a brown sear on the bottom. Then stir and cook for another 2-3 minutes until reduced in size by half. Transfer the muschooms to a plate.
Add another tsp of olive oil to the pan and add the Onions to cook for 6-8 minutes until the onions are soft and translucent, stirring every few minutes so that the onions don't burn. Then add the Garlic to the onions and cook for another 1 minute.
Turn the heat back up to high heat and add the diced zucchini with a dash of salt and pepper. Cook just until you get a sear (just a few minutes), no further. Then add the mushrooms back to the pan.
Add the cornstarch to 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk and whisk until fully dissolved.
To the veggies in the skillet, add 1 cup of chicken broth. Then add the Milk and Cornstarch mixture and bring to a simmer in the skillet, stirring as it starts to thicken.
Add the diced chicken, the parmesan cheese, and some of the parsley to taste (save some for garnish). Mix to combine. Finally, mix in the warm rice. NOTE: If all of your rice does not fit into the skillet, you can place some of the rice into the servings bowls/plates and pour the Zucchini & Chicken Rice mixture on top.
Serve, garnish with fresh parsley, and ENJOY!