Friends, do you remember when quinoa got, like, HUGE? I do. My super-healthy friend was all about putting quinoa in her chili and I thought that was the most disgusting thing ever and NO WAY would I ever eat this weird, hippy seed. Well guess what. I eat it now. And I love it. And it’s the perfect carb and you should be eating it too!! Yeah, I get it, it’s been presented as a fad (unfortunately, right there with kale), but quinoa has some serous perks, those fluffy, little nuggets!
All About Quinoa
First of all, it’s a seed, so it’s gluten-free. Please watch this clip Jimmy Kimmel does and asks pedestrians what gluten is–you’re welcome! It has more fiber, protein, iron, and calcium than your typical rice, and all of the 9 essential amino acids. It’s simple to cook (about 15 minutes), and aren’t you just a little tired of the status-quo? Quinoa takes on whatever flavor you cook into it, has a great texture, and kids love it!
I took a little twist from the retro Chicken Broccoli Casserole I grew up eating. Chicken, broccoli, cream of chicken soup, and rice. Instead I did a homemade creamy lemon sauce, quickly sautéed some fresh veggies and chicken, cooked up some fluffy quinoa, and threw it all together to bake. And topped with cheese, naturally. The chicken, veggies, and a layer of the quinoa stay nice and creamy while the rest of the quinoa on the bottom keeps its fluffy, perfect little texture.
Bakes are great because they feed a crowd–or these leftovers are perfect for healthy lunches. Plus you can generally pack in lots of veggies and other things your kids might not be soooooooo apt to eat. And they’re forgiving. Also, you can make them ahead of time (in the morning, night before, nap time) and then throw it in the oven shortly before dinner time.
Try out this bright and cheery dinner this week!
- 1 c uncooked quinoa
- 1 1/2 c chicken broth or water
- 1/2 t salt
- 1 T butter or oil
- 2 chicken breasts seasoned with salt and pepper
- 3 T butter or olive oil
- 1 c sliced carrots
- 2 c broccoli
- 1/2 large onion diced
- 3 stalks celery chopped
- 3 T butter
- 1 T minced garlic
- 1 1/2 c half and half
- 1/2 c lemon juice
- 1 c parmesan cheese
Bring 1 1/2 c chicken broth or water and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Rinse uncooked quinoa very well under running water--this helps prevent bitter quinoa. Add rinsed quinoa to boiling water, bring to boil again, cover with lid, reduce heat to a simmer, simmer covered 15 minutes. Leave covered for 5 minutes, then remove lid to let steam escape.
Heat 1 T butter or oil in large frying pan over medium heat. Season both sides of chicken breasts with salt and pepper, cook chicken breasts over medium heat about 5 minutes each side. Remove from pan, let cool slightly, shred with two forks or in your stand mixer.
In same pan, add 3 T butter or oil and all of the veggies. Sauté over medium heat, covered, until veggies have softened a bit. Remove from pan.
Layer quinoa, shredded chicken, and veggies in 9x13 pan. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
In large frying pan, make creamy lemon sauce. Melt butter over medium heat, add garlic. Cook 1 minute. Add remaining ingredients and whisk intermittently until thickened. Pour sauce over chicken and veggies, top with additional parmesan if desired.
Bake about 20 minutes, or until sauce is bubbly and top is browning. Garnish with fresh basil.