Recipe of the Month: Quinoa Casserole

Now that the wedding has come and gone; the honeymoon has come and gone; and the move has come – but not yet gone – it is time to pick up my “Things to Manifest in 2010” list. One of the things I wanted to make a habit in 2010 was to cook a new recipe each month.  It is probably easier to accomplish now that Dave and I are married, and I can’t get away with having a salad every night.

It was perfect timing to start this tradition when yesterday I stumbled upon my friend Kate’s blog – Vegetarian Mama.  I was in the Peace Corps with Kate in Thailand.  Kate is a very sweet girl who now resides in Seattle.  She is raising the newest addition to her family, Nora, to be a healthy eater. I’m so excited Kate and Robert are now parents.  Since I met Kate, she always said she wanted to be a Mama.

I’ve been wanting to try a casserole recipes since Dave and I got a beautiful Casafina casserole dish for a wedding present, but I just haven’t found the right one… until last night.  Kate blogged about “Quinoa Casserole” and I thought – this will be March’s Recipe of the Month.

Here is the recipe, re-posted, with my modifications noted in parenthesis.

Quinoa Casserole
1 T canola oil (I used 1 T Olive Oil)
1 medium onion, diced (I used 1 large onion)
2 cloves garlic, minced ( I used 3 gloves)
1 red or green bell pepper, diced (optional)  ( I used 1 red bell pepper)
1 cup dried quinoa, rinsed in a wire strainer under cold running water for 2 minutes (We don’t have a wire strainer yet, so I didn’t rinse the quinoa.)
1 can black or pinto beans, rinsed and drained ( I used Eden’s organic black beans)
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes (Dave doesn’t like to use canned tomatoes, so I used 2 1/4 cup diced tomatoes and roughly 1/2 cup water as a replacement)
1 T chili powder (optional) (I used 1 T chili powder)
1 tsp ground cumin (optional) (I used 1 tsp ground cumin)
2 cups vegetable broth – approximately ( I used 2 1/4 cups vegetable broth)

NOTE: I also added 1/2 cooked potato – diced – that we had leftover from last night’s dinner when I checked on the dish after 45 minutes.

OTHER POSSIBLE ADDITIONS:  I would have liked to of  added fresh corn, cut off the cob, but I didn’t have any. Also, diced carrots would have been a nice touch and maybe some spinach stirred in at the 45 minute check to get some greens in there.   And the most needed addition – more spices!

1. Saute the onion, garlic, and pepper (if using) in oil until softened.
2. Mix all ingredients except the vegetable broth in a casserole dish.
3. Add the vegetable broth until the mixture is a couple of centimeters from the top of the dish.
4. Bake in 375 degree oven for 1 hour. Check after about 45 minutes, stir, add more broth if needed.
5. The quinoa is finished when it is puffy and translucent.

THE VERDICT:
My initial reaction was the dish was too bland.  However, I’m a person who carries cayenne pepper in my purse, so take what I say with a grain of salt.  After I added some avocado, cayenne and s&p, the dish was more my style.  Dave doctored his up with some pepper and he thought it was good.  It definitely wasn’t his favorite, but he thought it was good.  This recipe is a keeper.  Easy and Delicious.  I will make it again, but with some more modifications as noted above in the “other possible additions.”  Also the leftovers will make a great taco stuffing.

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