Grains

A Quinoa Bake That Lets You Change Almost Every Ingredient

December  1, 2016

If you played host last week, your stash of leftovers is likely nearing its end: The novelty of turkey-and-stuffing sandwiches morning, noon, and night has long passed. Not a lick of cranberry sauce remains to salvage the last of the turkey.

You’ve likely found yourself cooking again, and you may even be gearing up for more guests (‘tis the season!). But what to cook now?

I have a thought: a quinoa bake.

If this genre is new to you, as it was to me just a week ago before I made it, it will quickly feel familiar: It’s a casserole made with quinoa. As you can imagine (and confirm with a quick Pinterest search), the variations are limited only by your imagination. From feta to gouda, ground turkey to chorizo, boiled broccoli to roasted onions, cumin to oregano, the ingredients, seasonings, and combinations can all be tailored to your liking.

Shop the Story

You can use Gruyère, like I did, or consider another good melting cheese like cheddar, mozzarella, provolone, fontina, or gouda. A mix of cheeses could work well, too, like adding a small amount of Parmesan or blue cheese.

And in this quinoa bake, even the quinoa is optional. Other grains could be used in its place, like freekeh, bulgur, steel cut oats, or wheat berries. The key is to make sure whatever grain you use is fully-cooked before assembling the casserole. 

Then, you just need some sort of flavorful liquid to keep it moist and bind everything together. An egg-and-milk custard or a béchamel will make for a richer dish. Use milk, stock, or tomato sauce to keep things lighter.

All this is optional, but highly encouraged. Photo by Alexandra Stafford

Quinoa bakes are often assembled in layers: first cooked quinoa (mixed with any meat, vegetables, and seasonings), next grated or cubed cheese, and lastly a breadcrumb topping. Everything is fully cooked when the dish enters the oven—the final baking serves simply to melt the cheese, allow the flavors to meld, and crisp the topping. One cup of dried quinoa, which yields about three cups cooked, will fill a 9x13-inch pan and, when mixed with various vegetables and cheeses, comfortably feed six people.

There's lots of layers beneath that crispy top. Photo by Alexandra Stafford

For this particular casserole, roasted onions and butternut squash meet Gruyère cheese and a mix of sage, rosemary, and thyme, half of which seasons the breadcrumb topping. Without any meat, it tastes hearty, thanks to quinoa’s high protein content. The whole thing tastes like Thanksgiving without the turkey—but, at this point, no one’s missing it.

Alexandra Staffordd is a writer, photographer, and occasional stationery designer based in upstate New York, where she is writing a cookbook. You can read more of her work on her blog.

What would you put into a quinoa casserole? Let us know in the comments!

Order now

A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

Order now

1 Comment

Fresh T. December 1, 2016
I've made this type of dish before with shiitakes, goat cheese, and herbs. I baked it in a springform pan with a sheet pan underneath and served it in wedges. My favorite part if the crispy top though, so this longer pan version would work better. I looooove quinoa fritters/cakes because of the crispy to soft ration but they are quite a hassle sometimes....hence the 13x9 pan being an excellent compromise. :)