I’m not sure if it’s a Midwestern thing, but there is a classic cheesy broccoli rice casserole that definitely made the rounds in our area throughout my childhood. Recently, it occurred to me that I could resurrect that dish with a fresh, whole food spin. I swapped out the white rice for quinoa and used a delicious homemade cheese sauce. I have to say, I was thrilled with the results. Our whole family loved this meal and it made for great leftovers as well.
Broccoli Quinoa Casserole
Yield: about 8-10 servings
1½ cups quinoa
1 head broccoli, cut into small florets
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 shallots, diced
2 cups milk (low-fat is fine)
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon dry mustard
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 cups (8 ounces) sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded*
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
Cook the quinoa according to the package directions. Meanwhile, place the broccoli in a saucepan and add a couple inches of water. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Let boil just 1-2 minutes more, until the broccoli is crisp-tender. Drain immediately and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Set aside.
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, about 5 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.
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, use freshly shredded cheese. Pre-shredded cheese comes coated in things such as flour, cornstarch to prevent clumping, which can affect the texture of the sauce.
broccoli, casserole, easy dinner, quinoa, whole grain
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