Chicken Broccoli Quinoa Casserole

I found this recipe on Pinterest a few weeks ago, and I knew I had to try it. Not just because I wanted to start incorporating quinoa into our meals, but because broccoli and cheese go together better than pretty much anything. Jessica, over at The Novice Chef didn’t put chicken in hers, but I like a casserole that I can throw everything into and be done. So I bought a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, already cooked, and then came home and shredded it. I basically just added two cups of the shredded chicken to the recipe, and did the rest as is. It turned out delicious!! The kids cleaned their plates and I was definitely full after one serving.

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Ingredients:
2 cups water
1 cup quinoa
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (depending on your heat tolerance)
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
1 cup 2% milk
1/4 cup fat free half & half
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
salt and pepper, to taste
2 heaping cups steamed broccoli
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease a 9×9 baking dish and set aside.

In a small saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add quinoa and salt. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Cook for 18-20 minutes, or until water is absorbed. Fluff with a fork and set aside. Steam broccoli until tender. Or you could use a steamer bag if you want to.

While quinoa is cooking, melt butter. Whisk in cornstarch, cook for 30 seconds. Add onion and garlic, sauté for 5 minutes – stirring as needed. Stir in seasonings (mustard and cayenne pepper) and cook for 30 seconds more.

Slowly whisk in cold milk and half & half. Simmer for 7-9 minutes, until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in cheddar cheese, stirring until completely melted.

In a large bowl, toss cooked quinoa and steamed broccoli together, and this is where I put the 2 cups of shredded chicken in. Carefully pour sauce over mixture, stirring to coat. Transfer to prepared baking dish and top with grated parmesan cheese.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the top is slightly browned. Serve immediately.

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I usually make a recipe the original way the first time. Then after I taste it and get my families reaction, I go back and change things next time. This one really turned out good, so I’m not sure what I would change. I might make a little more of the sauce, or stir in some extra cheese to make it a little creamier. I will probably use reduced fat cheddar cheese next time, maybe stir in some sour cream. Lots of options, but it was so good, I’ll have plenty of chances to make it again. This recipe makes 6 huge servings. You could easily double it for more people, it would be a great side dish for Thanksgiving or Easter, besides any dinner.

I was really surprised by the nutrition facts on this casserole, because I didn’t lighten up at all, and I added the chicken. Here they are, per serving.

Calories: 366
Carbs: 43g
Protein: 15g
Fiber: 3g
Fat: 15g

So good! Easy and yummy! Kid friendly too. If you try it, let me know what you think!

Happy Valentine’s Day! It is also our anniversary! Married four years and more in love now than before, that’s for sure. The new house is our gift to each other, as well as going somewhere fun this weekend. We did get the kids some goodies, and I’m going to take them somewhere fun to play after the gym. I know some people think Valentine’s Day is cheesy and made up, but I love one more day to celebrate loving my family. Besides, we chose to get married on Valentine’s Day because its a day to celebrate love! That and I knew it would be easier for Brent to remember, ha!

What is your favorite comfort food casserole?

Are you doing anything special today?

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