Pizza Quinoa Casserole

It was an action-packed weekend with my friend in town. Her boyfriend surprised her by showing up in St. Louis to pop the question! It was nerve-wracking and exciting being in on the planning and scheming. Everything went off without a hitch and now my friend is happily engaged. Saturday night was spent sipping champagne and celebrating the wonderful occasion.

Since my friend was in town until today, we had every intention of cooking together on Sunday night. But with all the unexpected excitement from the weekend, it was take-out all the way. Had we cooked, I suspect it would have been something along the lines of this Pizza Quinoa Casserole. It seems like 85% of the meals we cook involve this hearty, protein-rich grain in some way, shape or form. The Italian seasonings and sauce-coated quinoa is topped with melty cheese to yield a lighter dish reminiscent of cheese pizza. 

Pizza Quinoa Casserole

What You Need

  • 1 C uncooked quinoa cooked in 2 C water or about 3 1/2 C cooked quinoa
  • 1 6 oz can tomato paste + additional tomato sauce if needed
  • 3-4 large cloves garlic, finely minced, grated or pressed
  • 1/2 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seed
  • 1 tsp marjoram
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 3/4 – 1 tsp sea salt
  • dash black pepper
  • 1/2 C mozzarella cheese, to top

What To Do

  1. Rinse quinoa well and combine with water in a small pot over high heat. Bring to a boil, cover and turn down to low and simmer for 15 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed, the quinoa is tender and completely cooked. Remove from the heat and leave covered in the pot for 5 minutes while assembling other ingredients.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 4 – 1 cup ramekins, 2 – 2 cup dishes or a larger casserole dish, depending on how you want to bake and serve.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the tomato paste with the garlic and onion, water and olive oil. Mix well. Add all the seasonings. Mix well again before adding the quinoa. Once the mixture is completely mixed, taste for seasonings and add more salt as needed. Also, if mixture seems too dry, add 1/4 cup additional tomato sauce. Then divide evenly among the dishes for baking, sprinkle with and place in the oven.
  4. Bake 30-35 minutes until the cheese is golden and bubbly or until the quinoa on top is golden and crispy. Garnish with fresh basil or parsley and serve.

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