Quinoa Mexican Casserole

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I have been trying to use up food we already have in our pantry and freezer recently- why keep buying when there are so many things we haven’t even gotten around to eating yet?  This has led to some extra creativity: let me introduce you to my new simple, vegetarian (but doesn’t have to be!), inexpensive, Mexican flavor favorite:  Quinoa Mexican Casserole.  I took this idea from a web search that turned up this Mexican Quinoa Bake idea- I thought it had good bones, but had room for some improvement.  I did use canned tomatoes and canned black beans, unfortunately, as I said before, saving money using what we already have.  In the future I will use salsa and cooked dried black beans to avoid BPA exposure.  Le sigh.

Totally delicious!

 

Quinoa Mexican Casserole:

2 cups of boiling water
1 cup dry quinoa
1 can Mexican diced tomatoes (or 1 jar of salsa)
1 can black beans (or use cooked dried black beans)
A couple tablespoons cumin (to taste)
A couple tablespoons chili powder (to taste)
A couple tablespoons cream (optional)
A couple cups of shredded cheddar cheese (could add Mexican blend cheese, or preferred cheese as well)
1-2 eggs (to bind)
Handful of Panko (optional)
Baking dish (I used my 8×8)

Preheat oven to 350F

Bring water to boil, add quinoa.  Let sit for 15 or so minutes until water is absorbed and quinoa is tender with white spirals coming off.  Add tomatoes (or salsa), black beans, cumin, chili powder, eggs, cream, some of the cheese, mix well.  Pour mixture into baking dish and top with a generous amount of cheese and sprinkle with Panko.  Bake until bubbly and cheese is golden.  Makes eight entree size helpings or sixteen or more sides.

Mmmm Crunchy Golden Cheese and Panko

This was delicious and satisfying just the way it was.  I used the cream just to add a little more richness to the dish and I like to add some crunchy texture with Panko for very little guilt.  Next time I might add ground beef or turkey to up the protein even more (heck, shredded chicken would be excellent!).  I also might add sauteed onions and peppers.  Perhaps some fresh cilantro.  Probably some more cheese in the mixture itself and one more egg (I only used one).  I do love the way the cheddar sort of balances the Mexican flavors and adds more interest.  I never skimp on cheese, cheese is awesome.  In case you’re wary, my fiance is never a big fan of “vegetarian” fare (unless it’s pasta or egg based!) but he ate two helpings without griping.  Give this a try, it’s an AWESOME way to change up quinoa.

Nutrition (to the best of my figuring ability):
For 8 equal servings
Protein: 18.3
Carb: 12.8
Fiber: 4

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