This Crispy Quinoa Bake is actual healthy comfort food! Full of vegetables and irresistibly crispy!
It’s casserole season!
You may be excited about that, you may not be excited about that, but whichever side of the fence you’re on I’m here to peddle Crispy Quinoa Bake to fill the need.
This is a recipe I shared almost five years ago (what?!) and it still stands strong today. Thousands of you have tried it, loved it, and made it your own. There’s nothing I love better than when people send me photos of one of my recipes on their dinner table, waiting to be devoured.
I wanted to update this recipe with some new photos (I like to think I’ve come a long way in five years), tips, and substitutions. After years of making this recipe over and over again it’s pretty perfect in all it’s crispy, cheesy, filling glory. It just needed a few tweaks in the recipe writing to ensure you get the same amazing result.
Let’s forget about boring old casseroles filled with condensed soups for a second. This is comfort food. Healthy comfort food. Fill you up, warm you up, and still feel good after eating it food. There are loads of vegetables and just a hint of spice in this crispy quinoa bake. The quinoa gets delightfully crispy around the edges of the pan and anywhere cheese has been browned on top of it.
This started as a stuffed pepper recipe. When my husband asked me if he was supposed to eat the “bucket” it came in, I decided I would be better off hiding the peppers in the savory stuffing. This healthy casserole has quinoa, loads of veggies (zucchini, onions, corn, tomatoes, and more!), lots of meatless protein (hiya black beans!), and a good old sprinkling of Wisconsin cheese.
Crispy Quinoa Bake is so easily customized! Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Make a few simple swaps to change this from Mexican inspired to Italian!
- Lightly spray a large, rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray and spread the mixture thin before continuing to bake as directed for super crispiness all over
- Leave off the cheese for a vegan version
- Use whatever favorite veggies you have on hand such as broccoli, mushrooms, or spinach
- Increase the spice level by adding a chopped jalapeño and using pepper jack cheese
- Fry leftovers in a skillet with a little olive oil over medium heat – this is basically a requirement and even better and crispier than the original – being sure to break up and flip the mixture frequently
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This healthy casserole is loaded with vegetables, cheese, and Mexican flavors!
- 1 cup quinoa, uncooked
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 1 cup onion, diced (about 1 medium)
- 1//2 green pepper, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 cup zucchini, cubed (about 2 small)
- 15 ounces black beans, rinsed and drained
- 4 ounces diced green chiles
- 28 ounces diced tomatoes drained
- 1 cup frozen corn
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 lime juiced
- 2 cups shredded monterey jack cheese
- Chopped cilantro for garnish
Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.
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 chicken stock. Stir and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and cook, covered, for 15 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. 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 5-10 more minutes, until the zucchini is soft and beginning to brown.
Fluff the quinoa with a fork and place it in a large bowl. Add onion mixture, beans, green chiles, tomatoes, corn, cumin, oregano, chili powder, lime juice, and salt to taste. Mix thoroughly and transfer to prepared baking dish. Bake 30 minutes, top with cheese, and bake 10 minutes more or until melted and just beginning to brown.
Adapted from Dough-Eyed Girls
Leftovers can easily be microwaved, but I like them best fried in a little olive oil over medium heat until brown and crispy.
An Italian version of this recipe can be found here.