Yes, you read that right. Quinoa and mac n’ cheese join forces in this recipe. Now, the Pinterest post to the blog where I was then linked to the recipe said this recipe is super low on calories. That’s pretty great if you’re counting, but if you’re like Will and I who just eat healthier foods and stay active each day, you probably don’t care so much about the 200 or 300 some-odd calories in this dish. However, if you watch those numbers, then congrats–this is probably one of the few recipes I’ve declared healthy and can actually prove it because of the people who’ve posted about it before!
Anyways, calorie-counting or not, this is a damn good recipe. We were happy as clams to eat this for a few nights in a row and typing about it just a few days later, makes me really want to bake it again. It’s friendly to your wallet and your diet, but does not lack flavor or quality! It’s an interesting idea to substitute the “hot” new grain, quinoa, for pasta and I’m not sure it could work in most cases. However, for this particular recipe, it is genius. This recipe allows you to feel like you’re indulging on mac n’ cheese, but without the guilt of pasta shells oozing with melty cheese!
Cooking Notes: The original recipe called for leeks and red pepper, where we opted for green onions and diced tomatoes. It also called for soy milk and we used 2%. Will probably also tossed in more than 1 1/2 cups of cheddar cheese, because there is no such thing as too much cheese. Will definitely added the optional Panko bread crumbs, to crisp the topping even more-good idea!
Quinoa Mac n’ Cheese (adapted from Moni Meals; serves 6)
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 bunch sliced green onions (white part only for going in the dish; green for topping)
1/2 cup diced tomato
1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed and drained
Fresh ground salt
1 tbsp Tony Chachere’s seasoning
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups of stock
2 large eggs
1 cup 2% milk
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
3/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the green onions (white parts) and tomatoes, covering and cooking for 5 minutes, or until tender. Stir in quinoa and garlic, cooking uncovered for another 3-4 minutes until the quinoa starts to turn opaque. Add 3 cups of stock and season with fresh ground salt and Tony Chachere’s. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Remove from heat and let stand for at least 5 minutes.
While that is simmering, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9×13 inch dish with cooking spray. Whisk together eggs and milk in a large bowl. Once the quinoa mixture is ready, fold it into the milk/egg mix. Add the cheese, stirring very well, letting the warm quinoa melt some of the cheese. Transfer the mixture to the baking dish and top with Panko crumbs, green onions (green parts), and more cheese. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until browned at edges. To crisp, broil on high for 1-2 minutes at very end (watch carefully!). Slice into pieces, top with fresh scallions, and serve by itself or with something else!
Recipe: Moni Meals: Quinoa Mac n’ Cheese