Cheesy Greek-Style Baked Quinoa
FYI – I’m back on my quinoa kick.
And it’s bigger and badder than ever.
Starting off January with some sort of healthy initiative is totally cliche, so I don’t blame you for your judgy eye rolls. But after weeks of inhaling a literal mountain of holiday sugar, it’s time to press the re-set button… stat. So I’m scaling back on my carb game, hittin’ the gym like my thighs depend on it (they do), and noshing on delightfully healthy eats like this cozy baked quinoa – Let’s tuck into it.
Quinoa is a great complex-carb for when I’m trying to eat clean, and I’m betting it’s one of yours, too. By now the internet has undoubtedly assaulted you with all of quinoa’s superfood merits, so I won’t bore you with the whole filling/versatile/healthy-as-hell schpeal. What I WILL say is that quinoa is at it’s best when baked, hands down. When prepped into a casserole quinoa takes on a pasta-like quality that’s insanely satisfying, hearty, and delicious. I’ve been experimenting with baked incarnations like crazy recently, among them Italian (think marinara sauce), Asian (shrimp, soy, & ginger? yes), and even Tex-Mex (taco seasoning = life). But my favorite baked quinoa to date, hands. freakin’. down?
You guessed it – Greek.
I was inspired to create a Greek-style quinoa because Greek food is just SO fresh and summery, it’s an easy mental escape from this brutal winter weather. The bright and cheery colors are a superficial (and pleasing) plus, but the real driving force of this dish is the intensely crisp flavors – Spinach, artichoke, and tomatoes are all major players here, and the stellar combination of their textures and tastes is simply undeniable.
The process for putting this together is fairly seamless, so I’d suggest making this on a Sunday or Monday and then enjoying it all week long. We begin with quinoa, which I prefer to cook in chicken broth for added flavor and intensity. The veggies we’ve addressed, but the sauce?
An insanely yummy combination of reduced-fat feta cheese + skim milk + lemon + garlic + parsley, it is SO luscious and sinful, you won’t believe that it’s not full-fat. Smother its silky deliciousness over the quinoa and veggies, top the thang with more cheese (mozzarella baby), and… that’s it! 15 minutes in the oven later and you’ll be shoving your face with the cheesiest healthy dish on earth.
I love this as a side-dish with chicken or steak, or even as a vegetarian main, so choose whichever suits you best. It’s beautiful to be served for a crowd, and it refrigerates/freezes well, so don’t be shy about making a whole big batch – I promise, it won’t go to waste.
And most importantly – WINE. Drink this with a cold glass of pinot grigio, and thank me later.
Cheesy Greek-Style Baked Quinoa
- 2 1/2 cups Cooked Quinoa
- 1 1/4 cup Reduced-Fat Feta Cheese
- 1/2 cup Skim Milk
- 1 tsp Crushed or Minced Garlic
- 1 – 2 tbsps Lemon Juice
- 1 tsp Parsley
- 1 cup Cherry Tomatoes, diced
- 1 cup Spinach, chopped
- 1 cup Marinated Artichoke Hearts in Oil, drained & chopped
- 1 tbsp Artichoke Oil (from jar of artichoke hearts!)
- 1 tsp Onion Powder
- a few pinched Salt & Pepper
- 1/2 cup Part Skim Shredded Mozzarella
- Prepare the quinoa as directed. While quinoa cooks, in food processor combine the feta, skim milk, garlic, lemon juice*, and parsley, blending well until smooth. Set aside until needed.
- Pre-heat oven to 400F.
- When ready, in large mixing bowl combine the quinoa, cherry tomatoes, spinach, artichoke hearts, and artichoke oil, stirring well. Pour over with feta sauce, then season with onion powder and salt & pepper, combining thoroughly.
- Transfer mixture to oven safe casserole dish, spreading evenly. Top with mozzarella, then bake for 15 minutes until top has melted and begins to lightly brown – Immediately plate and serve.
>> Prepare quinoa with chicken broth instead of water – it retains more flavor.
*for more tang to your feta sauce, use 2 tbsps lemon juice