Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Real Food Wednesday: Cozy Quinoa Casserole

I was surfing the web for quinoa recipes, and I found this great one at the Men's Health website. I had no idea they had recipes there! called for Acorn Squash, which I have actually never cooked with before (I know, I is that even possible?). So, I gave it a try. The only thing I wish I had known beforehand was how hard Acorn Squash is to cut. Otherwise, it was smooth sailing.

If you are unfamiliar with Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah), it is a great addition to your pantry. Quinoa is a South American grain (sort of, it is not a grass plant like other names, so it is not a true grain) that is very unique in that it is a complete protein all by itself. Most grains need to be paired with some legume in order to be a complete protein. Another great advantage is that it is very low in phytic acid compared to other grains, so if you decide to soak it, it only needs to be soaked for 2-4 hours (if at all). It cooks up pretty quickly without soaking. Quinoa was grown and harvested by the Incas, who named it Quinoa because it means "mother grain." Though they may not have had the means to break down its nutritive components, they knew that eating it kept people healthy. Now we know that quinoa is very high in vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber.

Quinoa can seem expensive, but just a little bit cooks up to be quite a lot. This casserole calls for a cup, and a black bean and corn meal I do with Quinoa only uses 1/2 a cup and we have sooooo much food left over! So, while I would not necessarily say it ends up being just as cheap as other grains, it does seem a little more reasonable than it did in my first moment of sticker shock. Actually, the link posted above for the phrase "mother grain" is the least expensive place I could find it online (if anyone knows of a better price, go ahead and let me know, I'm always looking).

Without further ado, here is the recipe (as seen on this page in Men's Health):

* 1 large onion, peeled and diced
* 1 tbsp olive oil
* 6 cremini (or white) mushrooms, thinly sliced
* 1/2 C acorn squash, sliced
* 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
* 1 lb ground dark turkey meat
* 1 1/2 tsp poultry seasoning (or dried sage)
* 1 tsp sea salt
* 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
* 1 1/2 C low sodium chicken stock
* 1 C quinoa, rinsed
* 1/4 C parsley, minced
* 6 oz reduced fat monterey jack cheese, shredded

1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
2. In a skillet, saute onion in olive oil on medium high heat for 2 to 3 minutes or until translucent.
3. Add mushrooms, squash, and garlic and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
4. Add turkey, breaking it into small pieces as it browns, about 3 to 4 minutes.
5. Add poultry seasoning, salt, pepper, stock, and quinoa and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.
6. Transfer ingredients from pan into a 9 by 9 inch casserole dish or baking pan.
7. Mix in parsley and 3 ounces cheese.
8. Sprinkle remaining 3 ounces cheese on top of casserole.
9. Bake in oven for 30 to 35 minutes.

They also have nutritional information for the recipe on the site.


We use homemade mozz instead of the cheddar they recommend, mostly because Mozzarella is a raw cheese, which means Jeff can have it, and I don't know how to make cheddar. Otherwise I made no other substitutions.

I did notice that the color washes out of everything, so you may want to sprinkle with fresh herbs on individual servings to give it a little bit of color.

Check out more Real Food Wednesday Posts here, at Kelly The Kitchen Kop.


  1. We love quinoa so I has to stop in and see your creation. It looks so good. I've never thought of putting meat in it but, it sounds great.

    Found you through Real Food Wednesday - glad you joined in the fun!

  2. Yeah, I think the fact that there is meat in the casserole has something to do with the fact that it was on Men's Health. Being a complete protein, it really doesn't need the meat, but I know my husband doesn't like to have dinner that does not include meat in some fashion; which is one reason why I loved the idea of that recipe right is kind of the middle ground. The meat isn't the star of the show, but it is there.

    Thanks for stopping by! I'm on my way to check out your blog now :)