In a house with four children (me + my triplet brother and sisters), my mom was always looking for new ways to 1) feed her children to satiety quickly (we all tend to get VERY grumpy when we need to eat. My sister Paige calls it hangry. Hungry + Angry = Hangry.), and 2) get us all the nutrients we needed to get through our mad rush of daily activities, from swimming to baseball to student council.
As a classic Southern woman in the vein of Paula Deen—minus the Southern drawl—my mom often turned to hearty one-pot casseroles to feed our family of 6. To this day, I still wax nostalgic about my mom’s casseroles, in particular her Broccoli-Cheese Casserole and her Chicken Tetrazzini, which I already updated here. So when I saw a post on Broccoli-Quinoa Casserole on my gal Jessica’s blog, Dishin’ About Nutrition, I knew I had to make my own version!
Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) has gotten very popular in the past few years, and Doug and I have most definitely jumped on the bandwagon. Quinoa looks like a grain, but it’s actually an ancient tiny seed that the Incas used to eat as a primary form of nutrition. Quinoa, unlike wheat or rice, is a COMPLETE protein, which means not only does it have a lot of protein, but it’s also a balanced source of essential amino acids. And, it’s gluten free! You cook quinoa in the exact same way as rice (2 parts water to 1 part quinoa), except you give it a little rinse first.
Quinoa tastes like a nuttier, more delicious version of rice, at least in my opinion. I like to buy it in bulk bags at Sam’s Club or Costco, but you can most definitely find it in well-stocked supermarkets and specialty markets. I like to substitute it for rice in many recipes, this one included. As a nutritional powerhouse, quinoa supplies many of our needed vitamins and minerals, so it’s great for vegetarians and meat eaters alike. (more…)