Quinoa, Cheese and Zucchini Bake

It’s starting to feel more characteristic of winter.

Yesterday was a cold, grey, raw day with steady sleet and  the occasional wind gust that takes your breath away.  It was the kind of day you’d much rather observe from the comforts of your well-blanketed bed.

But, as I trudged out of our apartment building in an attempt to get the kids to school (on time), I started thinking about dinner. I wanted to serve a hearty, comforting dish but, one that also wouldn’t require lots of prep time since I had no time!

Recently I came across a Quinoa, Cheddar, Zucchini Bake that’s very similar to a recipe of Mom’s I tucked away in the Casserole tab of the recipe binder- she used rice as the base versus quinoa.  While I adore quinoa, I had never eaten it outside of a salad dish.  This recipe seemed like the perfect dinnertime solution so  I decided to tweak the recipe to appeal to my kids’ varied palates.

I learned a new trick for cooking quinoa so it isn’t mushy or bitter but rather delicate and fluffy with a slightly nutty flavor!  Apparently, it’s important to first thoroughly rinse the quinoa so its natural coating is removed.  Then sautée the quinoa over medium-high heat in about a tablespoon of olive oil until it’s dry or slightly toasted.   At that point the quinoa can be added to a pot of water for the normal allotted cook time – approximately 12-15 minutes.

Cooked Quinoa – light, fluffy

Remember: quinoa is fully cooked only when it becomes translucent and you can see the tiny spirals (the germ) curling around the outside of the seeds.  And, for additional flavoring, the quinoa can be cooked in chicken broth in place of the water.

Apart from my steep quinoa learning curve, this dish requires no culinary skill.  That’s what I LOVE about casserole-type meals.

You’re simply combining ingredients, pouring them into a dish, and then cooking in the oven.

Make sure you dry out the zucchini with paper towels after it’s shredded

And, much like most casseroles, when I took the quinoa bake out of the oven, it looked completely unappetizing and very non-descript.  Imagine looking at a picture of a dessert when you’re extremely thirsty.  I know that’s the way my kids initially felt when the came barreling into the kitchen starving, only to find a 9×9 square dish in the middle of the table filled with something unknown, lacking color and any sort of enticing aromas.

I won’t lie, I did have a hard sell. But, I pitched the ingredients with the highest kid-appeal: the EGGS,  the CHEESE, and the DICED CHICKEN.  Alas, my kids finally tried the dish with intrigue versus apprehension. They both agreed I probably should’ve added more SALT, and there’s always opportunity to add a ¼ cup more CHEESE but,  it was surprisingly tasty.

I’m  happy to report the Quinoa bake received 1 ½ thumbs up from my panel of kid judges.

And, there’s an added  bonus to the dish: my 7- year old now has an awesome new word for Hangman…..


  1. I am smiling at the sales job on your kids! I am glad this at least received a 1 1/2 thumbs up from some tough critics: ) When I make this with a half cup of ham or prosciutto, that does lend a bit of salty flavor. I do like your idea of chicken, with a little extra salt!


  1. […] of the blog). Some that I will be trying soon are the Broccomole dip, Macaroni and Four Cheeses, Quinoa cheese and zucchini bake, and the Southwestern Quinoa […]

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