Monday, February 4, 2013

Cheesy Broccoli-Quinoa Bake

My husband and I really loved this one.  For some reason, quinoa in any form is a hard sell with my kids, even if it is covered in cheese.  I don't make it nearly often enough, and maybe that's why.  Although, we were making quinoa (occasionally) years ago before it was popular!  My husband worked in a natural food store in high school and became familiar with quinoa and other "health foods".  He sometimes makes a breakfast quinoa; I will have to share that recipe sometime. 
Cheesy Broccoli-Quinoa Bake
adapted from Annie's Eats

1½ cups quinoa
1 head broccoli, cut into small florets
3 tbsp. unsalted butter
3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 shallots, diced
2 cups milk (low-fat is fine)
¼ tsp. garlic powder
¼ tsp. dry mustard
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper, to taste
8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded*
2 cups shredded cooked chicken

1.  Cook the quinoa according to the package directions. Meanwhile, steam the broccoli using a steamer basket, until the broccoli is crisp-tender.  Set aside.

2.  Preheat the oven to 400˚ F. To make the cheese sauce, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour, shallots, garlic powder, dry mustard and cayenne. Continue whisking the mixture until it is light golden, about 1-2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the milk. Allow the sauce to simmer, stirring frequently, until the mixture bubbles and thickens, 5-8 minutes. Remove from the heat. Whisk in the cheddar until melted and smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. In a large bowl, combine the cooked quinoa, broccoli florets, shredded cooked chicken and the cheese sauce. Fold together gently until evenly combined.  (Or you can mix all ingredients right in your large casserole dish.)

3.  Transfer the mixture to a lightly greased casserole dish. Bake until the top is lightly browned, about 20-25 minutes. Serve warm.

*For best results, always use freshly shredded cheese. Pre-shredded cheese comes coated in things such as flour, cornstarch to prevent clumping and results in an unpleasant, gritty texture when melted. 

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