Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Quinoa Mac & Cheese

Ok, so there is actually no "mac" in this mac & cheese recipe, but it is legit comfort food with a twist. The quinoa pairs nicely with the flavors - as most things do when you are dealing with melted cheese and spices. It also gives the dish a wonderful texture and bite.

Quinoa is a high-protein whole grain (well, actually it's a seed) with a mild, nutty flavor. It is versatile and easy to prepare. And, as a bonus, quinoa is a good source of manganese, magnesium, phosphorus and copper, and it is high in lysine and iron.

Every now and then, I can successfully sneak a "weird health food" staple into the mix. Jared used to protest a lot more about eating grains and green things. But I don't know how much of that was him not liking certain vegetables, or just never having tried them. So, now I like to throw random things on our menus to see what sticks. And quinoa is definitely staying around after this dish landed on our plates.

  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1 1/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon (or 1 tablespoon - if you want more kick) hot sauce
  • 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • cooking spray

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Prepare the quinoa according to the package instructions. Typically, you combine 1 part quinoa and 2 parts water to a sauce pan and bring that to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 10-15 minutes until the germ separates from the seed (which looks like a white thread curling around the seed).
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, and hot sauce.
  4. Fold in the cooked quinoa and 1 cup of the grated cheese. Mix well.
  5. Transfer the mixture into a greased 8x8 baking dish.
  6. Top with the additional 1/4 of grated cheese and panko bread crumbs. Sprinkle on some red pepper flakes for a little more heat.
  7. Bake at 375 degrees F for 20-30 minutes until the toppings are golden brown.
* This recipe is adapted from Around the Table.

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