cheesy broccoli and quinoa casserole

So you know how I’ve said before that I’m not really sold on quinoa? Scratch that! One bite of this casserole, and I was head over heels in love with it. I guess my theory holds true that adding cheese to anything makes it taste delicious! What’s more, I served this to my family and not a single person complained about the quinoa. (The broccoli was a different story, but I’m still counting it as a victory.) This was so amazingly yummy! It tastes like a cheesy ricey casserole, but has all the awesome health benefits of quinoa. And it’s gluten free, for those who swing that way. But really, I would make it again anyway, even if it wasn’t healthy, just because it tastes so darn good. I served it with some baked salmon and fresh fruit salad, and it was a delicious healthy dinner.

Cheesy Broccoli & Quinoa Casserole
adapted from The Novice Chef

2 cups water
1 cup quinoa
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
salt and pepper, to taste
2 heaping cups steamed broccoli (I did mine in the microwave)
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

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.

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 mustard and cayenne pepper, and cook for 30 seconds more. Slowly whisk in milk. 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. Carefully pour sauce over quinoa/broccoli, 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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