By now, y'all know I can't go too long without posting some quinoa. I do love it so. Why? Here are some good reasons listed in my original quinoa post. With this recipe, I am especially smitten, because instead of having some carb-y macaroni, you have a nutty, protein-packed substitute. It makes you feel not so bad about all the cheese you are about to ingest (although it's really not too bad per serving).
I was in the mood for a little spice, so I added some sauteed red pepper with jalapeno, although you could add whatever veg you please! Other great variations would be broccoli and onion or tomato and leek, to name a couple. Just make sure to cook the veg before you add it to the mix. After you prepare your cheesy-quinoa-veg mixture, top it off with a little more cheese and Panko bread crumbs. What you end up with is a warm, gooey, and slightly spicy center, with a topping that goes crrrrunch as you make your way through. It's really quite a satisfying experience.
Are you ready for some guilt-free comfort food??
** JALAPENO & RED PEPPER QUINOA "MAC" 'N CHEESE **
Makes about 8 servings.
* 1 1/2 cups quinoa
* 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
* 1 large jalapeno, small diced (if you want less heat, remove the seeds and ribs)* 1-2 red bell peppers (depending on the size and how much you want - I would lean toward 2)
* 2 eggs
* 1 cup milk
* 1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
* 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
* 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
* Optional: 2 large pinches cayenne (if you really want some heat)
* 1 cup Panko (Japanese style bread crumbs)
* Garnish Ideas: chives, green onions, sour cream, more jalapeno, crumbled bacon (always)
* Preheat oven to 350F.
* Cook quinoa according to package directions.
* On medium heat, warm the olive oil in a saute pan, and saute your red pepper and jalapeno for about 3 minutes (until al dente- cooked, but still has some some crunch).
* In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, and spices.
* Gently fold the cooked quinoa, sauteed vegetables, and 1 cup cheddar cheese (reserving 1/2 cup) into your egg/milk mixture.
* Pour your mixture into a buttered baking dish.
* Top with the remaining 1/2 cup cheddar cheese and Panko.
* Bake in the oven for about 35 minutes, or until golden brown.
* Let cool for about 15 minutes before digging in...
And EAT FRESH!
Note: I've seen so many variations of this recipe, it's hard to say where I originally got the idea.