I’ve not thought about using quinoa as the vessel for a casserole, like you would rice or pasta. But I came across this recipe a few months ago at Bakeaholic Mama, and it’s become one of my favorites. Simply said, Carrie, aka Bakeaholic Mama, is a genius. A healthy combination of quinoa, spinach, cheddar cheese sauce, topped with a buttery, crunchy panko bread crumbs makes this casserole an excellent choice as a main or side dish.
I really can’t get enough. Last night, I served the casserole along side left over pork ribs. This afternoon, I ate a healthy portion for lunch. And I’ve been sneaking little bites all day long. Oh, man, this is good, gooey, and satisfying.
I’ve changed the ingredients just a wee bit. While at the grocery several weeks ago, I stumbled across a package of fresh baby spinach mixed with arugula. I love arugula, so in the basket it went, especially with this recipe in mind. Last night, I threw in a generous cup of fresh broccoli that I chopped and steamed in the microwave for 1 1/2 minutes. If you’re a kale lover, why not give that a try? Another great addition would be chopped water chestnuts or a handful of toasted pine nuts, or crunchy bacon bits.
Wow! Give this one a whirl!
- 3 Tablespoons butter, melted
- 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1½ cups milk, whole or 2%
- Dash of ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 8 ounces by weight or 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 3 cups cooked quinoa (I used 2 cups of chicken stock and one cup of quinoa)
- 2 bunches fresh spinach, or 2 packages (3.5 oz) fresh baby spinach/arugula mix
- 1½ cups fresh broccoli, steamed in microwave 1½ minutes, drained
- 4 Tablespoons butter, melted
- ¾ cup panko bread crumbs
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Cook quinoa according to package directions.
- In a medium saucepan, melt butter. Add flour. Whisk together to make a roux. Add milk, and stir constantly until the white sauce is thickened. Remove pan from heat.
- Add shredded cheddar cheese in handfuls, stirring until completely melted after each addition. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, mix quinoa, cheese sauce, and uncooked spinach OR spinach/arugula mix. (In addition, I added 1½ cups of steamed broccoli, cooked in the microwave for 1½ minutes, and drained.)
- Pour mix into a 2-quart casserole dish. (Original recipe used 8" cast iron skillet)
- Melt 4 Tablespoons butter in microwave save dish. Add panko bread crumbs. Stir until incorporated. Sprinkle on top of ingredients in casserole dish.
- Bake for 20-30 minutes, until dish is bubbling and bread crumbs are browned.
Kale may be substituted.
Other additions: chopped water chestnuts; toasted pine nuts; crispy bacon bits.