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Revenge of the Quinoa

February 22, 2011

I have no idea what that title means…I think all this snow is getting to me.  I have weather whiplash.

Remember when no one knew what quinoa was?  Like, five years ago?  I feel like it’s really exploded over the past few years.  Which is fine by me, now that I’ve finally learned how to pronounce it (keeeeen-wah…the longer you draw out that long e, the better). 

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Nowadays, I feel like I’m constantly reading some new article about how quinoa is a *super* grain—a complete protein source, high in fiber, etc.  This is all good and well, but to tell you the truth—I don’t think it’s very tasty on its own.  I’m not totally adverse to it—I just find it a little…meh.

So, I set out to create a recipe that would take it from drab to fab (I stole that line from Clinton Kelly…but it applies to ancient grains just as much as it applies to donning a flattering wrap dress after years of wearing a raccoon tail, or finally wearing a bra after starring on a hit 90’s tv show during adolescence and then dressing like the fourth wife from Sister Wives throughout the majority of your twenties).

Wait, what was I saying?


As I’ve mentioned before on the blog, I have a slight obsession with vegan “cheese” sauce—sauce made basically with creamy cashews, red bell peppers, tomato paste, and nutritional yeast.  It is SO good—on pasta, on kale, or just on my finger, straight from the vitamix.  I figured, what better way to make quinoa palatable than to smother it in zesty vegan cheese sauce? I threw in some roasted veggies for additional substance and fiber.  And thus, cheesy quinoa veggie casserole was born!

The recipe isn’t hard, but it does involve a few different steps, so I’ll take you through it one part at a time.

For the roasted veggies…

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I tossed 3 cups of chopped broccoli and 3 chopped carrots with 1 tbsp. olive oil, plus a generous shake of garlic salt and herbes de provence. 

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I then baked them in the oven at 350 for about 20 minutes—they’re going to bake a little more in the casserole, so it’s okay if they’re still a little crunchy. 

While my veggies were roasting, I cooked up the quinoa by combining 1 cup of red quinoa with 2 cups of water in a pot, plus about 1/4 tsp. salt for flavor.  I brought it to a boil, then simmered it for about 15 minutes, until all of the liquid was absorbed. 

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This actually make more quinoa than you’ll use for the casserole, but hey—who doesn’t like having a little extra quinoa in the fridge?  As long as there’s extra cheese sauce too.  And speaking of cheese sauce–

I combined in my Vitamix:

1/3 cup raw cashews

1 small red bell pepper

2 tbsp. tomato paste

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

1/2 tsp. paprika

1/2 tsp. turmeric

1/2 tsp. salt

1/3 cup veggie broth (you may need more, depending on the consistency)

dash of red pepper for heat (optional)

3 fresh basil leaves

Blend until creamy and smooth, scraping down the edges and adding more vegetable broth as needed. 

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Mmmmm…it was all I could do to not pour this sauce straight into my open mouth.  Seriously.

To assemble the casserole, I simply combined the roasted veggies with 1.5 cups of cooked quinoa, and tossed all of it with the cheeze sauce. 

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Then, I transferred it to a casserole dish, patting it down with my spatula.  You could top it with bread crumbs for a nice crust, but alas, I had none.  Thus, it went into the oven topless (ha) and baked for an additional 15 minutes at 350 degrees. 

Going in:

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Coming out, toasty and brown:

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All served up:

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I have to say…this casserole is really delicious.  If you think you hate quinoa, or even if you feel indifferent towards it, make this! It will rock your quinworld (HA!). 

Okay.  The snow is definitely getting to me.  Good thing I have to go teach class now. 

Happy Tuesday!

25 Comments leave one →
  1. February 22, 2011 5:32 pm

    That looks delicious! I’ve had quinoa before but I’m not a huge fan of it. I’ve been trying to find a recipe to knock me off my feet. I’ll have to give this a shot.

  2. February 22, 2011 6:06 pm

    Yum! That looks great. I really like quinoa, but I have to agree with you that it is not something I shout about from the rooftops unless it is paired with something else. I’ve never baked it in a casserole and I’ve never used that cheeze sauce recipe before, so I am going to have to give this a try!! Another great way to have quinoa is to add some sauted veggies and then squeeze an entire roasted bulb of garlic in and mix well. I got that idea from Jessica at How Sweet It Is and it is a frequent side dish at our house.

    • February 22, 2011 6:13 pm

      Mmmm…I love ANYTHING with roasted garlic!

  3. February 22, 2011 6:21 pm

    Love quinoa!! This looks so good.

  4. February 22, 2011 6:38 pm

    ah! That looks seriously delicious. I am a huge fan of cashew cream and its many uses….yet I’ve never made this cheese! And I love that you quoted Clinton Kelly. My nightmare is having someone bring me on that show haha.

  5. February 22, 2011 7:04 pm

    YUM I used red quinoa last night in my dinner. Jason prefers the red since it seems to have more texture. I’m totally loving your cheese sauce too.

  6. February 22, 2011 7:55 pm

    Please send this to me…I am hungry and that’s all I want!

  7. February 22, 2011 8:02 pm

    So funny because I made quinoa yesterday and bought my first jar of nutritional yeast this weekend – I’m sensing a new dish that I’ll be trying out this week! I’m obsessed with quinoa too. I like to call it “Ja-quinoa Pheonix.” And I’m totally trademarking that.

  8. February 22, 2011 8:13 pm

    This looks great! I had the opposite problem that you did – I’d heard of quinoa and even eaten it, but couldn’t figure out how to spell it to find some for myself. Keene-wah? Kinewa? Ooooh, quinoa. I see!

    Thanks for the recipe!

  9. February 22, 2011 8:31 pm

    Huge fan of quinoa! It truly is a miracle food and I love that you made it a casserole out of it.

  10. February 22, 2011 8:32 pm

    I guess we both have cheeze on the brain today!! 😉 You sauce sounds AWESOME! No vitamix here, so I’ll have to plan ahead and soak my cashews (thus the utter simplicity of my instant cheeze sauce, lol). This casserole sounds like a real winner to me.

    Since you aren’t wild about plain quinoa I thought I’d share a link to my favorite quinoa side dish, Garlic Saffron Quinoa, YUM!!

  11. February 22, 2011 8:43 pm

    This is perfect! I haven’t made a cheese sauce yet with nutritional yeast, but have been thinking about it…I am making this one!

  12. February 22, 2011 8:56 pm

    I’ll take a bowl full of that for dinner, thanks! 🙂

  13. February 22, 2011 9:05 pm

    Looks so good! We made quinoa last night, too — with sautéed onions, garlic, ginger, carrots, and apples. Yum!

  14. February 22, 2011 9:06 pm

    Those herbs look lovely!!

  15. February 22, 2011 9:43 pm

    I love quinoa so I will definitely be trying this recipe – thank you Anna!

    Stay warm my friend!

  16. February 22, 2011 10:52 pm

    Looks great! I made a new recipe last night that involved quinoa. To spice it up a bit, I cooked 2/3 cup quinoa in one cup water and 1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce. It was great!

  17. February 23, 2011 12:14 am

    Yum, this looks wonderful and I’m a sucker for any sauce I can create in the Vita-Mix – thanks! 🙂

  18. February 23, 2011 2:09 am

    I remember watching Jeopardy a couple years ago and the question was about quinoa and Alex Trebek pronounced it kin-o-wah.

  19. February 23, 2011 3:10 am

    This looks SO good! I’ve never had a good experience with red quinoa but maybe I just wasn’t cooking it long enough. *sigh* if only I had a Vitamix to make processing things easier!

  20. February 23, 2011 4:30 am

    Ive heard some pretty hilarious attempts of quinoa. Im glad were learning as a society how to pronounce it correctly!

  21. greensandjeans permalink
    February 23, 2011 1:28 pm

    if we make an executive decision to just boycott winter do you think spring will come quicker?

  22. JenATX permalink
    February 24, 2011 5:00 am

    you are SO right about quinoa being “meh.” I mean, its whatever but it isnt anything to write home about. I much prefer couscous. Funny thing is, my brother bought me a HUGE thing of it for my birthday because he knows I like health/food products. So now I have a bunch of quinoa laying around… maybe I’ll have to make a huge batch of this casserole

  23. March 1, 2011 10:52 pm

    This is happening tonight. I cannot wait!


  1. Cheezy Quinoa with Roasted Vegetables « The Hoot Eats

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