The semester is already starting to get crazy (three exams this week.. yikes), and I'm constantly feeling busy, busy, busy. Easy meals are pretty much the only way a meal is going to happen, at this point, while we're still getting used to the new routines. Alex loves casseroles, so I figured I would make a bit healthier casserole than what he's used to. Quick, easy, and delicious!
One of my favorite casseroles that often shows up at family gatherings is a cheesy broccoli rice casserole. I wanted to do a healthier twist on that by using quinoa, no cream soup, and loads and loads of veggies. Because we had a yellow squash, I used that with the broccoli, but you can easily use all broccoli depending on what's in season.
I always seem to forget how much I love quinoa - you can easily substitute it for rice in any number of dishes, and it packs a great protein punch! Now, I made this a bit healthier, but I did not skimp on the cheese by any means. I used a combination of smoked gouda (one of my favorites) and cheddar, freshly shredded. The smoked gouda doesn't melt as well, but it adds such a great flavor that I couldn't help but use it.
This casserole makes a good bit, so we had leftovers for a few days with just the two of us eating it, which works really well for us, so we don't have to cook as much! It would be wonderful as a side dish at a family gathering, but it can also hold its own as the main meal for those busy weeknights, with the complete protein from the quinoa, fiber and vitamins from the veggies, and a bit of fat from the cheese.
Instead of whirling the bread through the food processor for bread crumbs, I just tore a slice of sprouted wheat bread into pieces for a bit more bite. Do whichever you want for how you like your topping!
Cheesy Broccoli Quinoa Casserole
adapted from Edible Perspective
1 cup dry quinoa, well rinsed
2 cups veggie stock
2 cups broccoli, chopped
2 cups yellow squash, sliced & halved
4 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
4 oz. smoked gouda cheese, shredded (or more cheddar)
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T olive oil
1/2 t dried parsley
1 t dried oregano
1/4 t red pepper flakes (optional)
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1 slice bread, ground
1/2 cup cheese (from the shredded cheese above)
salt, pepper, to taste
1/4 t garlic powder
Place the rinsed quinoa in a medium pot, pour the veggie stock over top, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Once boiling, stir and cover. Cook for 15-20 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed. Turn off the heat and allow to sit, covered, for about 10 minutes, and then fluff with a fork.
While quinoa is cooking, toss the broccoli, squash, olive oil, 1/4 t salt, pepper, garlic, and onion together on a baking sheet. Roast at 400ºF for about 20 minutes, until just starting to brown.
In a large bowl, stir together the roasted veggies, cooked quinoa, parsley, oregano, red pepper flakes, and 1/4 t salt. In a small bowl, whisk together the cheese with the egg (reserving 1/2 cup cheese for topping), and then add it into the quinoa veggie mixture.
Spread into an 8"x10" baking dish, and bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes, until starting to brown on top.
For the topping, combine the crumbled bread (either whirl it in the food processor for fine crumbs, or tear in small pieces) with the 1/2 cup reserved cheese, 1/4 t garlic powder, and salt/pepper to taste. Sprinkle the topping on the casserole, and return to the oven for about 5 minutes, until the topping it browned and the cheese melted. Allow to cool slightly and serve.
*The leftovers can be stored in the fridge and enjoyed for up to three days.