I'm trying to get more super-healthy ingredients into our meals. Things they call super foods like quinoa, kale, and broccoli. They're so good for us, and they taste great, too, yet it's easy to skip over them.
When I was looking around for a quinoa casserole, I found Lindsay's recipe for Creamy Chicken, Quinoa and Broccoli Casserole at Pinch of Yum. It caught my interest right away because the quinoa and chicken go into the casserole uncooked. Not only is that fast and easy, but it means less cleanup, too. I wondered, though, about the raw chicken and uncooked quinoa. Would the chicken turn dry? Would it cook enough?
So I tried it. Delicious! Lindsay skipped using canned soup and opted for a homemade sauce. She blanched the broccoli just enough to cook it so it's lovely and fresh instead of cooked to death. She also wisely put cheese on top. Don't skip that step. The cheese doesn't overpower the casserole. There's just enough to give it a lovely bit of indulgence.
I noted that someone else who tried this recipe opted to use uncooked asparagus instead of the blanched broccoli. Honestly, we enjoyed the broccoli, but it's an option to keep in mind. I went largely by Lindsay's recipe except for a few little changes. I used sage, marjoram, pepper, and just a pinch of nutmeg instead of poultry seasoning. And I scattered some Parmesan cheese over the whole casserole before I popped it into the oven. Parmesan is kind of like bacon, it makes everything better. Right?
Speaking of bacon, there's a little bit in the casserole. I used four strips of bacon. If you make bacon for breakfast, just hide four strips to use in the casserole later on.
butter for greasing the pan
1 cup milk, divided 1/2 plus 1/2 (I used fat free, Lindsay used 2%)
1/2 teaspoon sage
1/2 teaspoon marjoram
a pinch of nutmeg
pepper to taste
½ cup flour
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups water, divided
1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
¼ cup cooked, crumbled bacon (4 slices)
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 teaspoons seasoning (I used Northwoods Seasoning from Pensey's )
3 cups fresh broccoli florets
¼ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (Lindsay used Gruyere)
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 400. Grease a 9x13-inch baking pan very well.
Whisk the sage, marjoram, nutmeg, pepper, and flour in 1/2 cup of the milk. Combine the chicken broth and the other 1/2 cup of the milk in a saucepan and bring to a gentle boil. Whisk in the seasoned 1/2 cup of milk and continue whisking until a smooth sauce forms.
In a large bowl, mix together the sauce, 1 cup water, the quinoa, and bacon. Pour into the baking pan. Slice the chicken in very thin strips and lay over the quinoa mixture. Sprinkle with the Northwoods Seasoning. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil. Cook the broccoli in it for about one minute. Remove and run cold water over it. Set aside.
Remove the casserole from oven. Check the consistency. Is the chicken cooked through? Has the quinoa popped the cute little curls? (I went ahead and baked it another 10 minutes, just to be sure.)
Spread the broccoli florets across the top. (Lindsay says you can add water at this point, up to 1 cup but I didn't add any. It didn't seem necessary but your mileage may vary.) Sprinkle the cheddar cheese across the top and the Parmesan cheese on top of that. Bake another 5 minutes or so, until the cheese has melted.
|Smells so good!|