New Thanksgiving Tradition? (Quinoa Mac & Cheese with Greens)

“I need to try cooking quinoa.”

I’ve probably been saying this for two years. A couple weeks ago I finally got up the courage to try it.

Why quinoa? Well, for one, it’s a bit of a superfood—high in awesome protein, rich in nutrients (such as calcium, iron, vitamin B), full of fiber and complex carbohydrates, easy to cook, hearty, versatile, and quite tasty.

For my first foray, I went with a delightful-sounding quinoa mac & cheese recipe. Spoiler alert: it was awesome, easy, and delicious!

Most commercial quinoa is pre-rinsed, but if you’re buying in bulk or not sure, rinse it ahead of time to get the bitter powder coating off. Then cook it according to the directions.

I used my rice cooker (maybe use a little extra water), but you can also cook on the stove.

Slice the very bottom of the leek off (where the roots come off), then thinly slice and chop the white part of the leek, into the pale green.

Put the leeks, greens (I used turnip and kale), and a tablespoon or two of olive oil into a saute pan. Saute on medium (5-6 on my stove) for 3-5 minutes, seasoning slightly (I used a little bit of sea salt, fresh ground pepper, and garlic powder). Set aside.

Crack the eggs into a large bowl and whisk together with the milk. This is also the part where you put the seasoning in. Yeah. I kind of forgot about that. Put the salt and seasoned salt in at this point.

Stir in the cheese. I used quite a bit less than what the recipe called for, 1) because it’s healthier, and 2) because I was almost out of cheese. It turned out just fine, just a little less cheesy than regular mac & cheese.

Add in the hot, fluffy quinoa and stir everything together.

Add your greens as well, and stir everything until fully combined.

Spray a 9×13 pan with non-stick spray, then put the cheesy quinoa mixture into the pan, spreading evenly. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and bake for 30-35 minutes, until golden brown on top.

Serve hot, but it’s also great leftover. This would make a great side dish for any meal, even a nice twist on a Thanksgiving tradition. It’s hearty, healthy, and includes cheesy awesomeness.

Mmm cheese…

This would make a great side dish (or vegetarian main dish) any night, but would be a great alternative Thanksgiving dish as well.

Quinoa Mac & Cheese with Veggies

  • 1 1/2 cups of quinoa (before cooking), rinsed and drained
  • Veggies of your choice (optional)
  • Good pinch of salt
  • A few grinds of seasoning salt
  • Chopped leeks (or 2 cloves of minced garlic if you don’t have leeks)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup of non-fat milk
  • 1 1/2 cups of grated cheddar cheese, more for sprinkling
  • Optional:  crushed red pepper, panko bread crumbs for topping
  • Toppings (also optional):  salsa, hot sauce, sour cream, scallions

Lightly saute any veggies for 3-5 minutes. Cook the quinoa according to the packaged instructions until fully cooked (15-30 minutes, depending on your method; I used a rice cooker).

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Coat a 9×13 pan (or around 8 individual ramekins if you prefer) with cooking spray. Whisk together the eggs and milk in large bowl, then add the cheese and fold in the quinoa mixture. Stir well, letting some of the cheese melt as you stir. Transfer the mixture to the pan and sprinkle on the bread crumbs or panko crumbs if desired. Bake 30-35 mins, until the bread crumbs are crispy and golden.

Original recipe here:  http://aroundthetableri.blogspot.com/2012/02/cheesy-quinoa-mac-cheese.html

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