One of my favorite comfort foods my mother made for us growing up was her Chicken Rice Casserole. I craved it yesterday but decided to put my own twist on it and make it a bit more healthy and created a Cheesy Chicken Broccoli Quinoa Casserole. For those of you who haven’t heard of Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) it’s a nutritional powerhouse that can be used in place of rice. If fact, Matt and I never cook with rice anymore, having replaced Quinoa with rice in every recipe. Quinoa has a bit more of a nutty flavor than rice, is a bit chewy, and very very healthy. It’s full of protein, in fact I’ve read that a cup of Quinoa has more protein than an egg. It’s low in cholesterol, rich in fiber, and gluten-free, so really there is no reason not to at least give it a try!! I also have to express my dislike for MSG (Monosodium Glutamate). We try to avoid it so I was super excited to find an organic cream of chicken soup that does not contain it (because most do!!)
Cheesy Chicken Broccoli Quinoa Casserole
3 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (cut into bite size pieces)
2 cups of quinoa (check your bag/box of quinoa, you may have to rinse it first)
2 cups of milk
1 box, 12 ounces of Organic Cream of Chicken Soup (we used Pacific Natural Foods brand)
1 cup of vegetable broth (if you like a creamier casserole then use another Cream of Chicken soup in place of the broth)
3 cups of frozen broccoli
1/4 of a teaspoon of ground black pepper
1/2 of cup of cheddar cheese or more if you want it extra cheesy!
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. Combine the milk, quinoa, soup, vegetable broth, broccoli, and black pepper. Mix the ingredients well.
3. Pour the mixture into a l9x13 inch glass baking dish.
4. Add the chicken pieces.
5. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake for about 90 minutes. I stirred the mixture about halfway through. Cook until quinoa is fully cooked, it will be moist and sticky, similar to cooked rice.
6. Remove the aluminum foil and cook for an additional 15 minutes
7. Remove from oven, add cheese on top and let stand for 10 minutes.
Now you have a delicious meal that includes meat, grains, and veggies. Enjoy!