Chicken and Quinoa Casserole with Broccoli

Today I am going to deviate from my own recipe's to share with you a great twist on the traditional chicken casserole. My wife made this dish the other night, and being a big rice and noodle fan myself, I have to say I didn't miss either at all in this quinoa based casserole. 

The two twists she made on this Cooking Light recipe was to bake the chicken first separately and then bake it in the casserole and she did not include the mayo to save on calories.  Either way works great.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1 (12-ounce) package microwave-in-bag fresh broccoli florets
  • Cooking spray
  • 12 ounces skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup 1% low-fat milk
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted chicken stock
  • 2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup canola mayonnaise
  • 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (1 cup)

Preparation

1. Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons oil; swirl to coat. Add quinoa; cook 2 minutes or until toasted, stirring frequently. Add 1 1/4 cups water; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until quinoa is tender. Remove from heat; let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

2. Preheat oven to 400°.

3. Cook broccoli in microwave according to package directions, reducing cook time to 2 1/2 minutes.

4. Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add chicken to pan; sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Cook 5 minutes or until browned, turning occasionally; remove from pan.

5. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion and garlic; sauté 5 minutes. Combine milk and flour, stirring with a whisk. Add milk mixture, stock, remaining 3/8 teaspoon salt, and remaining 3/8 teaspoon pepper to pan. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently; cook 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat; cool slightly. Add Parmesan, stirring until cheese melts. Stir in quinoa, broccoli, chicken, and mayonnaise. Spoon mixture into a 2-quart glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with cheddar. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until casserole is bubbly and cheese melts.