Cheesy Baked Quinoa
I love quinoa.
There, I’ve said it. Back in St. Louis my friends called me the Quinoa Queen because I introduced EVERYBODY to my favorite little seed. Yes, quinoa is a seed. It looks like a grain and acts like a grain, but is actually the seed of a grass like plant from South America. It’s a nutritional powerhouse, loaded with magnesium, folate, phosphorous, maganese AND (as a rarity in the plant kingdom) is a complete protein (that means it has all essential amino acids). For more nutritional information on quinoa, please go here.
There are a few tricks to cooking with quinoa, to make sure people enjoy it. Here are my top tips:
- Soak it first. It doesn’t have to be long, even an hour two will help. Without soaking quinoa can be too chewy for some tastes; by soaking it you’ll get a more soft texture, like us Americans are used to.
- Add flavor. By itself, quinoa isn’t super exciting. BUT it will take on whatever flavor you put it with. You can cook it with broth instead of water to add some flavor. It also goes great with garlic, onions, olive oil & vinegar, spices or any sauce that you’re a fan of.
- Bake it after cooking it. The recipe below has all of the ingredients baking together after the quinoa is cooked, this changes the texture a bit and makes it more appealing (at least to my husband and friends’ kids).
When I first moved in with my husband I introduced him to quinoa. After 6 months, he finally confessed to me that he hated it. He was only eating it to not hurt my feelings. I explained that I can’t fix something if I don’t know about it, so I started looking for ways to change the quinoa. Once I found Cheesy Baked Quinoa I had my solution. Not only does he enjoy eating it, but if we haven’t had it in a while, he ASKS FOR IT (and often cooks it for us).
The cheese is not necessary in the dish, it could be replaced by eggs, or just bake the dish without additives. But I find the cheese adds a bit of a flavor and alters the texture in a positive way.
Cheesy Baked Quinoa
- 1 cup dry quinoa – cooked (makes 4 cups)
- 1/2 cup shredded cheese – a hard, stinky cheese works best
- 2 cups chopped onion (to taste!)
- fresh garlic to taste
- chopped squash, green beans, bell peppers or veggies of choice
- cinnamon, brown sugar, spices to taste
- Soak the quinoa for a few hours or over night. Drain the quinoa, then add 1 ½ cups water to the drained quinoa and bring to a boil (uncovered). Then turn down to a simmer and cover, for 20 minutes or until the water is absorbed.
- While the quinoa is cooking, chop and lightly sauté the vegetables. They should be just soft, especially the onions and garlic.
- Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Mix the cooked quinoa, most of the shredded cheese and sautéed vegetables all together and fill a baking dish. Add spices to taste and mix in. Cinnamon and brown sugar are great for the holidays. Lemon juice and peppers are great other times. Get creative! Sprinkle remaining cheese on top of dish.
- Bake for 20 minutes, let cool a bit and serve. The dish reheats very well.
Last night we used bok choy, onions and a bit of leftover sweet pepper. While sauteing (with coconut oil) I added a bit of soy sauce mixed with water and a dash of hot pepper flakes. My husband DEVOURED the whole dish, we had no leftovers.