Baked Marinara Quinoa Casserole

Quinoa. Another one of those foods that became “trendy” in the last 5 or so years and that I didn’t know existed until then. I don’t cook with it too often, though I hope to start using it more (especially since going gluten-free). One of my favorite ways to enjoy it is in salads, or as the centerpiece of salads. But one way I have found that I don’t enjoy quinoa, strangely enough, is quinoa pasta. Something about the nutty flavor just takes over for me. So when I saw a recipe for a baked ziti using quinoa noodles, I got to wondering: Could I make a ziti using quinoa in place of pasta noodles? Well, I tried it, and lo and behold, it worked. It was rather delicious, in fact, and I definitely have a lot of ideas in my head for how I’d like to make some future quinoa casseroles (hmm, mac and cheese perhaps?!).

Serves 8-10
Prep time 35 minutes
Cook time 35 minutes
Total time 1 hours, 10 minutes
Allergy Egg, Fish, Peanuts, Shellfish, Soy, Tree Nuts, Wheat
Dietary Gluten Free, Vegetarian
Meal type Main Dish

Ingredients

  • 4 cups marinara sauce*
  • 4 cups vegetable broth**
  • 2 cups quinoa (rinsed, if instructions on package call for it)
  • 5-6 cloves garlic
  • 1 red onion
  • 4 cups spinach
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes (cut in halves)
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese (shredded)
  • olive oil
  • sea salt

Note

*For the marinara sauce, any will work. I made this one, only I kept it chunky style, by cutting up the tomatoes, rather than using the food processor. I also used one can stewed and one can chopped with green onions and peppers, as it’s what I had on hand.

**A few weeks before making this recipe, I’d discovered a vegetarian bouillon base. In this dish, I think it was central to the taste. However, I’ve found it takes some experimenting to figure out how much to use. When I made this dish, I think it overpowered a bit, whereas I’d rather taste the marina sauce a bit more. Next time, I’d use a little less. I’d recommend about 1-1.5 tablespoons for the four cups water.

Directions

Step 1
If making your own marinara sauce, start this step as you start the quinoa.
Marina sauce
Step 2
In a large pan, bring water with broth and quinoa to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, cover and reduce heat to low. Let the quinoa simmer for 15-17 minutes. Once it's finished, remove from heat and fluff with a fork.
quinoa
Step 3
In a medium-sized sauce pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add chopped onion, spinach, and garlic. Saute until onions are soft and spinach is wilted, about 5-7 minutes.
spinach, garlic, and red onion
Step 4
Add the marina sauce to the chopped spinach mixture. Stir. Then add the quinoa and mix. Add salt to taste.
Quinoa pasta mix
Step 5
Pour the quinoa mixture into a 9x13 pan and spread evenly.
Quinoa marinara casserole
Step 6
Sprinkle shredded cheese and top with tomato halves.
Quinoa with marinara, mozzarella, and tomatoes
Step 7
Bake at 350 for 35 minutes, or until cheese is slightly brown.
Baked Quinoa Marinara Casserole

 

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