Fake Fancy: Cheesy Quinoa Casserole with Broccoli and Asparagus

Last weekend, I asked Tim what he thought we should cook for dinner Sunday night, and he chose cornish game hens.  When I was trying to think of what to cook with them, I remembered some quinoa I bought a while back and hadn’t done anything with.  I figured I could incorporate a vegetable somehow and ended up at quinoa casserole with broccoli and asparagus, which was delicious!  Quinoa sounds fancy, but it’s really not that hard to cook.  This recipe was pretty easy and extremely tasty.  The hens weren’t that hard either, but that’s for another post. 😉

So, I’ve eaten quinoa plenty of times, but I’ve never cooked it – until now.  Quinoa is a grain that is high in protein and can be used much like rice.  I found this recipe to use as a guide.

First, there are some things to know about cooking quinoa.  You have to soak the quinoa for at least fifteen minutes (up to an hour) and then rinse it three times before cooking it, or it can be bitter.  I sent Tim to the store for a strainer that would be small enough to strain the tiny grain, and he came back with one by Oxo that was perfect!

Quinoa is generally a 2:1 ratio of liquid to grain, so I used 3/4 c. of quinoa and cooked it in 1 1/2 cups of chicken stock.  You can use water, but I like to cook my rice in chicken broth or stock, so I used that method here and it worked great!  Once the liquid comes to a boil, add the rinsed quinoa and cook for about 20 minutes.  I’ve read that if you cook it slower and use less liquid, it will be fluffier.  If you’re in a hurry, you can apparently cook it on a higher temperature and it will be done more quickly. I cooked mine as low as I could, and it sucked up all the liquid and was very fluffy after 20 minutes!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I chopped a small onion and 2 gigantic (I mean these things had to be genetically engineered) cloves of garlic because, like Rachael Ray, almost everything I cook has these two ingredients.  We love veggies, so I wanted to use both broccoli and asparagus in this dish.  I blanched the broccoli and asparagus by cooking them in boiling water for a minute or two and then putting them in ice water to stop the cooking.

Lite mayo and fat free sour cream kept the dish nice and moist, and the lite/fat free worked great in this.  I couldn’t even tell!

And of course, there had to be cheese.  Sharp cheddar and parmesan/romano/asiago blend to be exact, but feel free to use whatever kind you like!  There can never be too much cheese.

Next, I threw in about 1/4 c of bread crumbs.  (I didn’t measure this stuff, I just eyeballed it.)  The original recipe called for 1/4 c. of milk, but I forgot it didn’t feel I needed this because there was still a little water on my veggies.  Finally, I added the cooked quinoa, stirred everything until it was well mixed, and topped with more bread crumbs.  All in all, pretty easy and really delicious!

Ingredients:

About 2 cups cooked quinoa (3/4 c dry with 1 1/2 c. liquid)

1 small onion, diced

2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped or grated

1/2 c. mayo

1/2 c. sour cream

1 small broccoli crown, cut into florets and blanched

1/2 bunch of asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces and blanched

1 c. sharp shredded cheddar

1/2 c. shredded parmesan/romano/asiago blend

3/4 c. breadcrumbs, divided – 1/4 c. and 1/2 c. (plain or seasoned, whichever you prefer)

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Mix ingredients in 1.5 or 2 quart casserole dish and top with approximately 1/2 c. of bread crumbs.  Bake at 350 degrees or until bread crumbs begin to brown.

23 thoughts on “Fake Fancy: Cheesy Quinoa Casserole with Broccoli and Asparagus

  1. Hey cara I love the blog! Where did you fine the quinoa? I looked all over at schnucks recently and could not find it. I figure food fantasies would have it but have not taken the time to go there.

  2. This is crazy delicious and so easy to make. I needed to use up asparagus from my garden. I didn’t use broccoli, used fage 0% instead of the sour cream, and sauted the garlic and onions first in pan I then added chicken broth to cook the quinoa. Used a mix of panko and whole wheat bread crumbs. Thanks for the great recipe and fun pics. I linked to you on FB.

  3. Brought it to work and my boss said it was the best tasting recipe she’s had in a while and we both cook a lot.

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