Monday, December 03, 2012

cheesy broccoli quinoa casserole

Raise your hand if you are always seeing recipes with quinoa these days and hearing about how nutritious it is! I've known how healthy it is for some time now (amongst other things it is the most complete protein of any grain and a good source of vitamins and is an article I found on its many benefits, if you are interested), and wanted a good recipe to try for nights when we have vegetables and need something with protein. This recipe looked good, and it was! I didn't even add the cooked chicken since we were having a meatless meal, and it was great. My whole family liked it, and I have already made it twice this past month. This was a great casserole type dish, but it is healthy, and loaded with protein. It has a great flavor. The first time I made it, I only had half the amount of quinoa I needed, so I used a smaller amount, omitted the chicken, and used the full amounts of other ingredients. It gave me a lot of cheese sauce, but it was still really good! This is a great healthy alternative to broccoli chicken casserole, or a good meatless dish if you omit the chicken.

Cheesy broccoli quinoa casserole
Makes about 8-10 servings (I usually divide this recipe in half and it more than enough for the four of us to have at dinner)

I N G R E D I  E N T S :

1½ cups quinoa
1 head broccoli, cut into small florets
3 tbsp. unsalted butter
3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 shallots, diced (I didn't have any-you can substitute with onion or even a dash of onion powder)
2 cups milk (low-fat is fine)
¼ tsp. garlic powder
¼ tsp. dry mustard
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper (I omitted)
Salt and pepper, to taste
8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded*
2 cups shredded cooked chicken

D I R E C  T I O N S :

Cook the quinoa according to the package directions.  Meanwhile, place the broccoli in a saucepan and add a couple inches of water.  Cover and bring to a boil over high heat.  Let boil just 1-2 minutes more, until the broccoli is crisp-tender.  Drain immediately and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking.  Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 400˚ F.  To make the cheese sauce, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Whisk in the flour, shallots, garlic powder, dry mustard and cayenne.  Continue whisking the mixture until it is light golden, about 1-2 minutes.  Slowly whisk in the milk.  Allow the sauce to simmer, stirring frequently, until the mixture bubbles and thickens, about 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat.  Whisk in the cheddar until melted and smooth.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  In a large bowl, combine the cooked quinoa, broccoli florets, shredded cooked chicken and the cheese sauce.  Fold together gently until evenly combined.

Transfer the mixture to a lightly greased casserole dish.  Bake until the top is lightly browned, about 20-25 minutes.  Serve warm.

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