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
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- 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).
- In a large bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, and hot sauce.
- Fold in the cooked quinoa and 1 cup of the grated cheese. Mix well.
- Transfer the mixture into a greased 8x8 baking dish.
- Top with the additional 1/4 of grated cheese and panko bread crumbs. Sprinkle on some red pepper flakes for a little more heat.
- Bake at 375 degrees F for 20-30 minutes until the toppings are golden brown.
* This recipe is adapted from Around the Table.