Southwestern Quinoa Casserole

southwest quinoa bake

In continuing the theme of meatless recipes, I thought I’d start with one of the Mexican-themed recipes I’d promised. This may not be true for everyone, but I’ve always found Mexican dishes one of the easiest types of Cuisines to make vegetarian. With all the beans, veggies, and cheese, it is easy not to miss the meat!

This dish mixes all those above things with none other than quinoa. No meat certainly does not have to mean no protein! I have definitely caught the quinoa “bug.” What is not to love about those little curly cues it sprouts after it’s cooked? 

The idea from this recipe comes from Not Rachel Ray. She used the filling both for southwestern stuffed pepper and in casserole form. We just made the casserole variety, but I am sure stuffed-peppers would be delicious (I also seem to have a “thing” for different types of stuffed peppers). I made a few changes to Rachel’s original recipe mainly leaving out the chicken, upping the amount of beans (hate having random half cans of stuff in the refrigerator), and adding a chopped bell pepper to the mix. We just planted several of these ingredients in our garden last weekend. Can’t wait until we could make this with the goodies from our garden!

You’ll find a lot of different ways to cook quinoa. I’ve tried quite a few different ways, but the method that has worked well for me is a ratio of 2:1 liquid to grain. Any more liquid, and I find the quinoa ends up too wet even after cooking. You can use all water, a mixture of water and broth, or even all broth if you’d like. If I have it, I like using half broth, half water. I haven’t tried this, but I think you could prepare most of this dish the night before (minus adding the bread crumbs). Add the bread crumbs and bake the next day. Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Southwestern Quinoa Casserole
Adapted from Not Rachel Ray

Ingredients:
1 cup uncooked quinoa
1 cup water
1 cup low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 can (14.5 oz) black beans, rinsed
1 cup frozen corn or corn cut from 2 cobs
1/2 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
2 Tbsp. cilantro, minced
1-2 Tbsp. taco seasoning (make your own)
1-1/2 cups reduced-fat shredded Mexican cheese
1/2 whole wheat Panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Rinse the quinoa and shake strainer to drain off any extra liquid. Place in a medium saucepan. Add broth and/or water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 13-15 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed. Remove from the heat. Let sit and remain covered for about 5 minutes. Remove lid and fluff with a fork.

Combine the cooked quinoa, bell pepper, onion, beans, corn, tomatoes, cilantro, taco seasoning, and 1 cup of cheese. Pour into a 2-quart baking dish. Combine remaining 1/2 cup of cheese and Panko bread crumbs. Sprinkle over the top of the dish. Bake 45-50 minutes or until the bread crumbs are golden brown.

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