Happy Labor Day! We are enjoying our weekend so far just relaxing around the house, visiting with family, playing outside in the pool and eating lots of yummy food. I love to cook on the weekends, especially big breakfasts. This morning we had whole-wheat pumpkin pancakes. (yes I’m already getting my pumpkin fix- hah) Mmmm.
For dinner last night I made Cheesy Chicken and Vegetable Quinoa. We’ve had this meal plenty of times not only because it’s tasty and healthy, but also I can usually get little Noelle to eat it! It’s always a win when I can find a healthy vegetable dish she likes. It has just enough homemade cheese sauce and crunchy toasted breadcrumbs on top to make this a mouth watering yet nutritious comfort food.
This meal is pretty easy and can be done in separate steps if you wanted to prepare some of it earlier in the day (or have left over chicken and quinoa). Some of the ingredients could also be swapped to your preference. I adapted this recipe from Damn Delicious. It’s pretty similar, I just added mushrooms, garlic and swapped the butter for olive oil. You could leave out the chicken to make it vegetarian and add other veggies in. Also, I baked it in a large cast iron skillet, however you could use any type of oven proof skillet or transfer it to a baking dish once its ready to go in the oven. In my opinion, the less dishes the better! This could almost be called a “one pot meal” except it takes another small pot to cook the quinoa. 😉
This dish is a comparable to a comforting broccoli, rice and chicken casserole without all the butter and salt! No canned soup! Besides the healthful veggies, it’s packed with nutritious quinoa. If you haven’t tried cooking with quinoa yet, I highly recommend it! It’s a great staple to have in your panty and makes a perfect substitute for rice or other grain. I like to get the large bag at Costco because it costs less and lasts a long time! Plus, it only takes 15-20 min to cook on the stovetop and comes out perfect.
Nutritionally speaking, quinoa is a healthy whole grain, high in fiber and a complete protein (contains all of the essential amino acids). Compared to rice it also has more iron, magnesium, and folate. The possibilities are endless with quinoa….soups, cold salads, scrambled eggs, tacos, stuffed peppers, oatmeal etc. I hope to share some more recipes with it soon!
Here is the recipe for the Cheesy Chicken and Vegetable Quinoa. Feel free to comment if you have any questions or have tried it. 🙂
- 1 cup quinoa, uncooked
- 1 head broccoli, cut into florets
- 6-8 oz mushrooms, sliced
- 4 tbsp. olive oil, divided
- 1/4 cup bread crumbs (Panko or make your own)
- 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 tsp. garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 2 cups non-fat milk
- 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
- 1/3 cup plain greek or plain non-fat yogurt
- Cook the quinoa according to package instructions. Mine says to combine 1 cup quinoa with 2 cups of water in a pot. Bring to a boil then turn heat on low, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
- Meanwhile quinoa is cooking you can complete the next few steps of cooking the veggies, chicken and toasted bread crumbs.
- Steam the broccoli and mushrooms. You could either steam it on top of the quinoa during the last 5-10 minutes of cooking, or in a separate pot until soft.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, warm 1 tbsp of olive oil and add bread crumbs, stirring until browned and toasted for about 3 minutes. Set aside.
- Heat another tbsp of olive oil in the skillet and season chicken breasts with salt and pepper to taste (or any other seasonings you like). Cook chicken in the skillet on both sides until cooked through. Once cooled, dice it into bite-size pieces and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 350 deg F. If your not using the oven safe skillet for the baking, then lightly oil a 9x13 baking dish.
- Add the last 2 tbsp of olive oil in the skillet along with the garlic and cook for a few seconds. Then whisk in flour until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the milk and continue whisking until slightly thickened, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in 1 cup cheese and yogurt and whisk. Add in the quinoa, broccoli, mushrooms and diced chicken. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- If you're using an oven proof skillet, sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup cheese and bread crumbs on top of the mixture and place in the oven. Otherwise pour the mixture in your baking dish then top with the cheese and bread crumbs. Bake until cheese is melted about 5 minutes. Then turn the broiler on high and broil for just a few minutes to get the cheese a little crispier.
- If you want to save yourself some dishes, you could use the same large oven proof skillet for cooking the ingredients and baking in the oven. The vegetables could also be steamed on top of the quinoa during the last 10 minutes of cooking.