It’s safe to say that Thanksgiving is not “my” holiday. It can come and go and I barely notice. It’s not that I’m not thankful for the things in my life, it’s just that I’ve never much cared for the turkey/stuffing/white bread combo coming out of these Wisconsin kitchens.
Am I in trouble yet? I’ll move along.
I have one more idea for you to help you fill up your vegetarian Thanksgiving table. This would make a fabulous main dish or even a side dish to serve a crowd.
Really though, this is going to become every day food for you. It’s healthy, filling, and amazingly delicious. The texture? Out of this world.
This Italian quinoa casserole is based on my wildly popular Crispy Quinoa Bake. It’s equally full of veggies and flavor without being spicy. It is easily adaptable to what you have on hand. Add extra veggies, leave a few out, and you’ll be just fine. Leave the cheese off and you have a vegan dinner on hand. You can even assemble the whole thing ahead of time and pop it in the oven when you’re ready to eat (you may just need to add a few minutes to the cook time if it has been hanging out in the refrigerator).
Thankfully everything in here is pre-cooked, you’re just making it all crispy, melty, and delicious in the oven. The strangest thing is that it’s so comforting and satisfying that I don’t even feel like I need to eat dessert afterwards!
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Crispy quinoa and cheese with tons of healthy, hearty veggies!
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa
- Olive oil
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 1 eggplant, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
- Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 zucchini, cubed
- 2 cloves garlic
- 28 ounces canned diced tomatoes drained
- 15 ounces canned great northern beans rinsed and drained
- 1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 2 cups Italian cheese blend
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to broil on high and place an oven rack in the highest position. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.
Arrange eggplant in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Toss with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Broil in the oven until soft and beginning to brown, stirring once or twice, about 5-10 minutes. Keep a close eye on them as oven temperatures may vary, you don't want them to burn. After removing the eggplant, lower the rack to the middle position and turn the oven to bake at 375ºF.
Place the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer and rinse throughly with cool water for at least two minutes. Drain. In a medium saucepan, heat 2 teaspoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the quinoa and cook, stirring, for about one minute. The quinoa should begin to dry out and pop a bit. Add the vegetable stock. Stir and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and cook, covered, for 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and peppers and cook, stirring occasionally until soft, about 7 minutes. Add garlic and zucchini and cook 3 more minutes.
Fluff the quinoa with a fork and place it in a large bowl. Add onion mixture, eggplant, tomatoes, beans, parsley, thyme, rosemary, oregano, crushed red pepper, 1 cup of Italian cheese blend, and salt to taste. Mix thoroughly and transfer to prepared baking dish. Bake 30 minutes, top with remaining cheese, and bake 10 minutes more or until melted and just beginning to brown.
Adapted from my Crispy Quinoa Bake